Each month we hope to tell you about some of the many areas of veterinary care our hospital deals with on a daily basis, and how important a new hospital is to the welfare of our donkeys. This month our topic is respiratory disease…
Donkeys are susceptible to the same respiratory diseases as horses. However, as donkeys are very stoic and tend not to be athletic, it is easy to miss the signs and disease might progress significantly before it is noticed.
The respiratory system starts at the nose which leads to the windpipe (trachea), which branches into bronchi leading to each lung. Tiny hairs in the nasal passages trap dust and other particles that would otherwise irritate the sensitive lining of the lungs.
Causes of respiratory disease can vary from; infections, allergies, fibrosis, tumours and tracheal narrowing.
It is essential to know what the normal respiratory rate is for each donkey. The rates are variable but on average a donkey breathes in and out between 13 and 31 times per minute, with an average of 20 times a minute.
There are a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk of a donkey suffering. Ensure donkeys are vaccinated against Equine Influenza – which requires an annual booster, have the vets test for worms and make sure bedding and feeding straw/hay is good quality and is as dust free as possible.
Donkeys thrive on an enrichment programme. Highly intelligent and inquisitive, they greatly enjoy being taken out for walks and the exercise provides real health benefits. It will also be much easier for grooms to spot abnormalities when walking the donkey as their respiratory apparatus is put to the test!
This means treatment from out veterinary staff can be sought faster and donkeys in our care can be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Here at the Sanctuary we have nine Veterinary Surgeons and two Equine Dental Technicians, along with a fantastic team of veterinary nurses and grooms.
Sadly, our current hospital has become outdated, and we are limited in terms of the number of donkeys we can treat at any one time.
We are building a new hospital facility at our outlying Brookfield Farm in order to meet the needs of the growing number of donkeys and mules in our care.