In order to control any lice infestation in your donkey you will need to keep on top of clipping, bathing and the general grooming of your donkey.

The Donkey Sanctuary has found that there is resistance to the effects of the common anti-lice wash Deosect, so we find that clipping and bathing is an effective alternative. The clipping allows the shampoo to reach the skin and the bathing literally drowns adult lice. However, the lice eggs can still remain viable and this is why we advise a repeat bath after a couple of weeks by which time any eggs will have hatched but hopefully not had time to lay further eggs.

We have not found any particular shampoo to recommend. Those claiming to be anti-parasitic tend to have very low levels of the active ingredient and this can have the effect of promoting resistance to the effects of the product. We would therefore advise a perfume-free baby shampoo, which is not too harsh to cause damage to your donkey's eyes and sensitive tissues.

Top tips

Warm water in all but the hottest of weather should be used. The key to successful bathing is to be prepared, take your time and reassure your donkey at all times. Collect your equipment and decide where you are going to bathe your donkey.

You will need:

  • Several watering cans with a rose type sprinkler head or a hose with hot and cold water
  • Several large old bath towels and one small towel for the ears and face area
  • A hose connected to the water supply, close at hand
  • Two small sponges (baby sponges are ideal) or cup for the ears and face
  • Preferably a friend/family member to help occupy and reassure your donkey and to run and get more water.

How to bathe your donkey

  • Fill the watering can half full with hot water and add cold water from the hose to a comfortable warm temperature. This saves you carrying heavy watering cans from the kitchen to the yard
  • Wet the donkey’s body all over using the watering can leaving the head and ears to the last. Pour the water slowly and do not drench in one go. Your donkey will be finding this new sensation very strange
  • Use the shampoo sparingly and massage into the body. Remember the more you use the more there is to rinse
  • Start from the neck down, paying attention to the mane, the withers, the armpits and the groin area (lice love these areas)
  • With the small sponge, wet the face and areas behind the ears and hollows above the eyes (other favourite spots for lice). Use your spare hand to protect their eyes
  • Squeeze a little shampoo on to the sponge and work the shampoo into these areas
  • With clean warm water, rinse your donkey thoroughly, use a clean sponge or small cup for their ears and face area
  • Do not get water in your donkey's ears
  • Pat dry with towels, this is the bit that your donkey will like. Use the small towel to gently dab dry the ears and hollows
  • Give lots of praise once you have finished bathing your donkey.

Donkey rugs, grooming tools and tack should all be thoroughly washed as well.

Want to know more?

Information for donkey owners