As well as food, shelter and quality time here are several items that would be at the top of your donkeys' health care wish list.
If in doubt, or need further advice, please seek advice from your veterinary surgeon.
- Have an annual MOT with a vet who is knowledgeable about donkeys. This could be at the same time as annual vaccinations, but ask your vet to give your donkey a full examination and assessment. Chronic conditions can often sneak up on owners, and as donkeys are notorious for suffering in silence, may go unnoticed for some time.
- Learn how to condition score accurately, and do this once a month for ever. Again, weight gain can be insidious and an overweight donkey is just as much a welfare issue as an underweight one. Excess weight can predispose donkeys to joint pain and illness, digestive and metabolic disorders. Try to keep your donkey as close to a healthy body condition score 3 as possible.
- Discuss faecal egg counts and targeted worming strategies with your vet. Old fashioned 'blanket' or interval worming is not good enough anymore as we have so much drug resistance among the parasites infecting our donkeys. Faecal egg counts help to identify the type and number of internal parasites your donkey may be carrying, and they can be used to assess effectiveness of any treatment you are giving your donkey.
- Engage the services of a qualified Equine Dental Technician (EDT) at least once a year. Just because your donkey is not bitted doesn't mean it doesn't need dental care. Approximately 90% of elderly donkeys have some degree of dental illness, causing pain and possible trouble chewing and swallowing. The vast majority of these dental issues could be prevented if picked up at an earlier stage.
- Review your feeding programme regularly. Adapt the quantity and type of forage available throughout the year, according to fluctuations in quality of grazing and your condition score records. As donkeys move from one life stage to another more major changes may need to be implemented.