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

  • Wet the donkey’s body all over, preferably using a watering can with a rose type sprinkler head or a hose from mixer taps with hot and cold water. Pour the water slowly to introduce this to your donkey slowly and give them time to become used to it. Do not drench in one go and leave the head and ears to last.
  • 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; these are the common areas for lice.
  • Use a small sponge to wet the face and areas behind the ears and hollows above the eyes; this is another common site for lice. Use your spare hand to protect your donkey’s 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.
  • Pat your donkey dry using old towels, this is the bit that your donkey will enjoy. Use a small towel and dab gently to dry the ears and face.

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

Want to know more?

Information for donkey owners