Respiratory disease in the donkey

The donkey suffers from a similar range of respiratory diseases as the horse; however, there are a number of subtle variations, knowledge of which can influence the success of treatment. As an animal adapted to a semi-arid terrain, there are variations in physiology, anatomy and disease susceptibility. The nonathletic nature of the donkey means that delayed presentation is common with many diseases and, while there may be enhanced resistance to some transboundary and parasitic diseases, there may be equal or increased severity of illness to some endemic diseases, e.g. equine influenza. Donkeys frequently live to geriatric ages and the clinician should be aware of the increased risk of conditions such as tracheal collapse, fibrosing pneumonia and neoplasia in this age group. As with any condition that causes stress and inappetance, respiratory disease in the donkey may be complicated by hyperlipaemia and good nursing care is an essential component of treatment.

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Common dental disorders in the donkey

Normal dental anatomy and the range of dental disorders found in donkeys are largely similar to those described in horses. Recent studies have shown dental disease to have a high prevalence in donkeys. Some dental disorders, such as diastemata, displaced teeth and wave mouth can have serious clinical consequences by causing oral pain and weight loss and even predispose to colic. Many of these signs can be prevented by regular dental treatment that can slow down or even prevent the progression of these disorders.

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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‚Äźquality 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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