Pain behaviour in donkeys is more subtle than in horses and ponies. Pain responses to dental conditions may be absent or go unrecognised. Yet dental disease is recorded as the second most common condition found in donkeys and can cause considerable pain.
In the majority of cases donkeys rarely have regular dental check-ups. This is due to economic reasons in the case of working donkeys, and possibly due to a lack of available experience in some communities. In the companion donkey it is often due to a lack of education regarding the need for regular preventive treatment and care.
The self-perpetuating nature of dental disease, in addition to the potential for serious juvenile dental pathology, means that regular prophylactic treatment from a young age is essential to reduce the incidence and severity of dental disorders in older animals.