How to care for your donkeys or mules if you become ill or have to self-isolate due to Covid-19.

The impact of the coronavirus continues to be felt by many communities around the world. Governments and health authorities are the best sources of advice on measures people should take to reduce transmission and risk of infection in their areas.

Any easing of restrictions are conditional and may vary between regions so it is important that you refer to both national and local guidance.

Our welfare team is still on hand to offer support and guidance. We have developed a variety of digital solutions to help us stay connected with donkey owners.

You can contact our welfare office on 01395 578222 or via email welfare@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk if you want to discuss any aspects of your donkey’s care.

Advice for Donkey Guardians

If you are well and your donkeys are kept at home

  • Continue to interact with your donkeys as normal
  • Apply good hygiene and biosecurity practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching your animals
  • Wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly before and after handling tools and equipment. This is particularly important where there is shared use eg wheelbarrows, field gates
  • Ensure you have enough supplies of bedding and forage. Place orders in advance of these running out to allow for unforeseen delays
  • Check current supplies of essential medication and speak to your veterinary practice to ensure requests for repeat prescriptions are made in good time
  • Ask any visitors to follow good hygiene measures. This includes your vet, farrier, equine dental technician and other professionals
  • Speak to your Donkey Welfare Adviser if you have any concerns or worries
  • Develop plans to ensure your donkeys are cared for in the event you became ill or need to self-isolate
  • Consider adapting your donkeys’ usual routine now so their management is realistic for those who may need to care for them if you are unable to do so.

If you need to self-isolate or find yourself unable to attend to your donkeys

  • Remember it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing
  • Let us know – your Donkey Welfare Adviser can provide advice and support your planning
  • Carefully consider if you are well enough to care for them yourself
  • If you need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys at your address it is important that this is kept to a minimum and they have access without meeting anyone who is unwell or self-isolating
  • Adapt your donkey’s usual routine to suit their needs and be realistic for those caring for them during this period
  • Think creatively about how you can monitor them remotely – we have seen novel use of CCTV cameras and other monitoring equipment
  • Make sure that contact details of your vet, farrier and other professionals are available to those caring for your donkeys and that they know who to contact in an emergency
  • Consider additional enrichment opportunities, which will help keep your donkeys entertained during this period.

If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19

  • Stay at home. You must not leave your house, unless you are being moved to hospital
  • Remember it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing
  • Let us know – your Donkey Welfare Adviser can provide advice and support your planning
  • Inform your local health protection team that you have pets at home. They will inform the relevant animal health authorities. Given their limited resources it is unlikely they will be able to provide practical help, so you will likely need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys
  • If your donkeys are kept at your address it is vital the person caring for your donkeys has access without meeting anyone who is ill or self-isolating
  • Be realistic about the level of care your donkeys will receive during this period and adapt their usual routine accordingly
  • Think creatively about how you can monitor your donkeys remotely – we have seen novel use of CCTV cameras and other monitoring equipment.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What do I do if my donkeys are not kept at home?

A: Travel to provide basic care to your donkeys is considered ‘essential’ travel. When caring for your donkeys it is important to comply with all other government advice, especially around social distancing and hygiene practices.

Action: It is important to develop contingency plans in case further travel restrictions are implemented, or there is a change in your own circumstances. The advice in the guidance above may help you do this and remember to contact your donkey welfare adviser if you need advice. Consider friends or family who may be able to care for your donkeys if you are unable to. Contact other donkey, horse or pony owners in the local area and develop shared contingency plans and share emergency contact details.

Q: Is the advice different depending on where I live in Great Britain?

A: There may be considerable differences in guidance (or regulation in cases) depending on where you live. Please follow the latest advice from the English Government, Scottish Government or the Welsh Government.

At any time, the Government may make changes that apply to a specific region of the country so it is important to check and follow any local guidance. Remember that restrictions may have an impact on business and the services which are provided by vets and farriers for example.

Q: How will the restriction on non-essential travel impact on my vet and other professionals?

A: Vets and other professionals such as farriers and equine dentistry technicians will continue to provide treatment in an emergency. Official bodies such as The British Equine Veterinary Association and Farriers' Registration Council have provided guidance to professionals who may need to make changes to their services to comply with the latest advice. This may include the delay of non-emergency veterinary care and the use of telemedicine in replace of physical visits. There may also be delays in the supply of some medications.

Action: Keep a look out for updates from your vet and other professionals for changes to their services and follow any advice they issue in relation to non-urgent cases.

Q: What do I do if my donkey’s medication is running low and I need a repeat prescription?

A: Speak to your vet and order repeat prescriptions in good time. Please bear in mind that vets may need to make changes to their usual services at short notice as they respond to the latest government advice. There may be longer waiting times for deliveries and challenges with the supply of some medications.

Action: Work out how long your donkey’s current supply will last, make a note on your calendar and set an early reminder to make sure you don’t forget to give your vet a call.

Q: What do I do if my donkeys are due their vaccinations?

A: Contact your vet for advice in good time. Please bear in mind that vets may need to make changes to their usual services at short notice as they respond to the latest government advice. This may include the delay of non-emergency veterinary care and the use of telemedicine in replace of physical visits.

From Tuesday 14 April 2020 your vet may consider attending non-emergency visits, including routine vaccinations. Your vet will risk assess each case individually and follow strict hygiene measures to keep you and their teams as safe as possible.

Action: Look out for any updates from your own vet on their latest way of working. If changes to veterinary services have resulted in your donkey's vaccinations lapsing during this period, please speak to your vet on how best to address the missed vaccines.

Q: What do I do if it is time for my donkey’s worm egg counts?

A: Your vet will be able to advise whether dung sampling is necessary and where to send your samples to. Our Veterinary Team will be happy to discuss the results with your vet. Our UK lab once again have the capacity to offer faecal worm egg counts for your donkeys. We will return the results to your veterinary practice who will provide advice on treatment if necessary. Please refer to our worming your donkey advice for more information about sending faecal samples to us.

Action: Please speak to your vet if you require advice about worming. Please bear in mind that vets are making changes to their usual services as they respond to the latest government advice so you may not be able to speak to a vet immediately.

Remember that removal of dung from pastures, at least twice weekly, will help break the lifecycle of some parasitic worms.

Q: Will I still be able to buy feed and supplies?

A: Most shops and animal feed stores are open for trading.

Action: Identify what supplies you need. Remember to order in good time to account for delays in supply. Only order what you need. If you do need to travel to a shop, call ahead to check that they have what you need to avoid unnecessary journeys. Practice good hygiene and social distancing at all times.

Q. Can I still take my donkeys out for a walk?

A: Walking with your donkeys is a great way to provide exercise and enrichment opportunities but at this time it is important for us all to avoid taking any unnecessary activity that may place additional burden on the emergency services. Before going ahead with an activity such as walking, it important for donkey owners to consider all the risks and only go ahead if confident and safe to do so.

Action: Consider other ways in which you can offer your donkeys opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation.

Q: What do I do if I can no longer be a guardian for my rehomed donkeys?

A: Please speak to your Donkey Welfare Adviser or contact our welfare office. 

Q: What do I do if I can no longer afford to care for my rehomed donkeys?

A: Please speak to your Donkey Welfare Adviser or contact our welfare office.