A donkey suffering from a bout of gingivitis is currently receiving regular tooth brushing by staff at the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary.
13-year old Ella, taken in by the charity in 1998 for being lonely, has gingivitis, a form of gum disease. The condition causes the gums around the teeth to become very red and swollen and over a number of years the bone supporting the teeth can be lost.
The most effective treatment of this condition is to regularly clean the teeth. Maxine Hoad, the veterinary nurse brushing Ella's teeth says: "We use a normal- sized toothbrush and an antibacterial liquid to clean her teeth.
"We can treat donkeys with gingivitis by flushing out the mouth with an antibacterial wash and putting them on a course of antibiotics, but brushing is the most effective way and although unusual for a donkey, Ella really doesn't seem to mind the toothbrush - she is a perfect patient."
Ella is one of thousands of donkeys currently being cared for by The Donkey Sanctuary. The charity makes great efforts to care for every donkey's individual needs. Barns are fitted with heat lamps and rubber matting for the elderly, those with respiratory problems enjoy airy stables and dust free bedding, and blind donkeys, who are accompanied by their sighted friends, have padded shelters for further protection.