Colic in the donkey

The donkey is a unique species of equine, with certain specific variations and adaptations that differ from its cousin the horse. The donkey is used by humans as a pack and draft animal in areas of the world where its ability to cope with low‐quality fiber and harsh conditions have excluded the horse. This chapter highlights the differences in anatomy and particularly physiology that have enabled the donkey to fulfill these roles. One of the consequences of being equipped to survive in areas of food scarcity is the tendency to deposit adipose if conditions are reversed. This fact, combined with insulin resistance, leads donkeys rapidly to become metabolically compromised and develop hyperlipemia as a response to stress and sudden reduction in appetite. The consequence is that many donkeys with colic must also be treated for hyperlipemia, which may have a higher mortality rate than the primary condition. Pain behaviors in the donkey may be more subtle than those in the horse and therapeutically there are differences in drug metabolism between donkeys and horses. This chapter summarizes the types of colic that occur in the donkey in relation to anatomic location and as a consequence of management and environmental factors.

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