Older donkeys require a bit of extra care, particularly when it comes to their teeth. Read on to learn about Bella’s recent trip to the dentist and the teamwork that goes into keeping our resident donkey herd fit and healthy.

Bella has been with us for 13 years now and resides at Brookfield Farm, one of our outlying farms in Devon. Recently. One of our grooms had noticed that she had a couple of loose incisors, which can be a painful experience.

At 23 years of age, Bella is classed as one of our geriatric donkeys. Old age in donkeys brings additional care requirements, particularly when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth. Healthy teeth help donkeys maintain their health and body condition as the teeth grind their feed down to make it digestible. Incisor teeth are located at the front of the mouth and are used to help pick up the food.

With her companion donkey Lou Lou by her side, we took Bella to our veterinary hospital to have a closer examination under sedation. Sedation is really useful when carrying out a thorough dental examination, as loose teeth can be quite sensitive and make the donkey nervous about us looking in their mouths

Two of our vets examined her mouth and found that all of her lower incisors were a little bit loose. It was decided that the best course of action was to extract the loose teeth. Over a couple of hours, our two vets used local anaesthetic to numb the nerves around her teeth so that she couldn’t feel anything and then carefully extracted each incisor, making sure they did not break and leave the tooth roots behind.

Bella coped very well with the procedure, and as soon as the sedation and nerve blocks had worn off, she was out eating grass straight away alongside Lou Lou.

Bella stayed at the hospital for a week after her procedure so that the vets could flush the sockets and our nursing team could keep an eye on her to make sure she ate well and didn’t have any complications from the extractions. Fortunately, the cheek teeth at the back of her mouth were in very good condition, which is a positive sign that she will be able to maintain her body condition.

Bella is now back at Brookfield Farm in her group and our farm vet is continuing to provide the aftercare and check-ups she needs.

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