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Questions answered by our Donkey Doctors

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  • I have a 4 week old mini baby jack that is shaking his head and itching his ears against everything he can, including us and only stops if we rub his ears for him. At that point he is in total heaven. I believe he has mites. How can I treat them?
    Before I thought about mites, I would think lice. Bovicola equi is common in donkeys and can cause considerable itching. The parasite is hard to see and often lives in the mane and on the ears. There are a number of treatments that range from Equispot to Neem Oil. Flea sprays that are used on dogs and cats will also work. You can look for the lice eggs in the mane and on the hair. They are tiny (pin head sized) grayish ovals that are attached to the hair. Whatever treatment you use, repeat in 1 week or a new "hatch" of lice will come right back again. Also, if one donkey has lice they probably all do. Mites (Sarcoptes) can occur in donkeys. If you swab the inside of the ear or take some crusts off the skin to your veterinarian they can identify these rare parasites. In some parts of the country there is also a "spinous ear tick" (Otobius megnini) that can live and reproduce down in the ear canal. This is easy to treat with a commercial tick spray, Neem oil, or a pyrethrin. To find these you would need an "otoscope" to look down into the ear canal. I have never seen ear ticks in donkeys but they do occur in horses and cattle, and there is no reason why the might not get into donkey ears. Again, these are rare, and usually cause a little head shaking and no itching.
  • Is there a particular Strongicide Based wormer that you recommend for donkeys?
    Ivemectin, Pyrantel Pamoate (Strongid), and Fenbendazol (Panacur, including the Panacur "power pack") are all safe and effective in donkeys. Unfortunately, this is not based on the same sort of research as has been done in horses, but that would require killing experimental animals and counting worms in their intestines, which I will not do. This is based on a lot of experience doing the next best thing: counting parasite eggs in the manure after deworming. Remember that deworming programs only work if you take the environment, climate, and individual immunity of the donkeys into consideration. This is best done by fecal analysis and good manure control, followed by the use of dewormers when necessary.
  • Question on worming

    Jan/July you use Ivermectin
    I have 5 Australian Shepherds and they can’t be exposed to that wormer due to drug sensitivities.
    If they eat livestock poop treated with ivermectin they can become very ill.
    What else can I use comparable to Ivermectin???

    I’ve used the other products as those are not a problem
    This is a question I get fairly frequently at the lab, and I’ve spoken to our Toxicologist about it extensively. The maximum excretion of ivermectin in the feces of horses happens around 24 hours but it can then linger for several days—up to 9 days or so. That said, for a 50 lb dog, it would have to consume about 2 kgs of manure (at peak levels of excretion) to get a toxic dose. That’s a lot of poop that would have to be eaten! The bigger, and more common occurrence (and I have seen this happen!), is dogs consuming de-wormer that has fallen from a horse’s mouth. So it is definitely a good idea to keep your dog in the house while you are actively de-worming your horses at the very least.

    While individual collie breed dogs can be sensitive to ivermectin, there are no reported cases of intoxication from eating the feces of herbivores that have been treated with ivermectin. It is likely that the concentration is just too low to be a problem. Other anthelminthics can be used for all parasites except bots, which will require treatment with ivermectin. This should be done after the first hard frost in the winter. As always, deworming plans should be based on regular fecal analysis to insure that treatments are at the right time and neither done too frequently or not often enough. All anthelminthics can have effects on environmental invertebrates such as soil nematodes and dung beetles. So over worming not only wastes money, but affects the environment.
  • Should donkeys be wormed every month?
    The most important part of a deworming program is the analysis that you do by running a fecal analysis, from time to time on your animals. Worming every month may be too much or just right depending on the microenvironment on your pasture. This is almost impossible to evaluate in every individual case. So collecting a few fecal samples, and having them analyzed for worm eggs (which are microscopic) is essential to getting parasite control right. You should be able to get with your vet about doing the analysis. The analysis does not require expensive equipment: basic microscope (the kind they use in elementary or HS biology labs will do), some glass slides, and kitchen salt (and a few measuring tools).
  • I have two donkeys and three goats with plenty of room to roam on five acres. There is also plenty of weeds/grass to browse in Spring and early Summer.

    Per your website, I have been diligently deworming them every three months. However, with such a small population over such a large area, I’ve heard that this frequency is not necessary.

    Your comments?

    The most important part of a deworming program is the analysis that you do by running a fecal analysis from time to time on your animals .Both donkeys and goats are sensitive to what are called "strongyle" parasites. However, they do NOT cross infect each other (goats get goat worms, donkeys donkey worms and "never the twain shall meet"). Worming every three months may be too much, not enough, or just right depending on the microenvironment on your pasture. This is almost impossible to evaluate in every individual case. So collecting a few goat & donkey fecal samples and having them analyzed for worm eggs (which are microscopic) is essential to getting parasite control right. You should be able to get with your vet to do the fecal analysis. The analysis does not require expensive equipment: basic microscope (the kind they use in elementary or HS biology labs will do), some glass slides, and kitchen salt (and a few measuring tools).
  • How often do I need to deworm my donkey?
    It is always best to check with a veterinarian in your area.

    At PVDR, we deworm twice per year in the Spring and the Fall as the weather changes.
  • How do I know which dewormer is right for my area?
    PVDR performs fecal parasite studies prior to dewormer to determine what is required. We then retest a few weeks after application to ensure we have a "good kill".

Hoof and Leg Issues


  • Not sure if this is a tooth issue. This morning I noticed a small lump on the left side of one of my mini donkey's face. It is about 1.5" long. It feels rock hard, not soft at all. Does not appear to hurt when I pushed on it. She is eating her hay as normal and also her small piece of alfalfa cube treat. Other than the lump she appears her usual self. My vet coming Monday. Anything you can suggest I can or should do until then?
    No this is not something requiring immediate treatment. If the donkey is chewing normally, there is no blood coming from mouth, and no excess salivation it is VERY unlikely to be a foreign body. As teeth erupt sometimes the pressure on the inside of the alveolus (the hole that the tooth originates from) will cause bone on the outside of the face or jaw (usually the jaw) to grow abnormally and form a bump. These are usually not a problem for the donkey and often resolve as a young animal gets older and the deciduous "cap " comes off the growing tooth, relieving the pressure. Your veterinarian can look in the mouth and maybe take an x-ray and diagnose this pretty easily. Very very very rarely bone tumors can develop in the jaw and facial bones. I would not worry about this, but do get the cause diagnosed.
  • How often should my donkey have his teeth checked?
    Here is PVDR Policy:

    108.4 Teeth_rev_Jul_5_2016
    A donkey's teeth can acquire sharp edges from years of grinding their food. These edges can cut the inside of the mouth making it difficult for a donkey to chew properly. A warning sign is wet clumps of undigested hay laying in the feeding area. A procedure known as "floating" grinds the sharp edges down and creates a more even bite. The procedure is usually done under a light sedation and the donkey must be immobilized.

    All donkeys teeth will be checked annually by our in-house medical staff, this can be done in conjunction with annual vaccines. Any donkey over the age of 10 should be checked annually for teeth problems by a certified professional. Aside from sharp edges, another major problem is lost teeth. Old Age, poor food quality and fighting are the most common causes of tooth loss. Without the upper and lower tooth working together, a donkey cannot chew food properly. Weight loss is a sign of chronic tooth problems.

    All senior donkeys 20+ should have their teeth checked every six months by a certified professional. They should also be assessed for additional feed requirements. Sweet feed is a good choice as it is easy to chew. All dental work must be recorded on Lightspoke.


  • I brought my donkey to our summer home a week ago. Has been here before. Dry lot with limited grass hay as usual. 3rd day he was laying down alot and not interested in humans like normal. Resting right hind leg alot when standing. Very little interest in eating. Drinking ok, not as much as normal though. Pooping and peeing ok. Took him to the vet yesterday. Kept overnight. Treated for dehydration and floated teeth. Still not much interest in eating and laying down with front legs straight out. Any ideas? Thank you!
    In the absence of more information there are a lot of possibilities. It would be nice to know a little about what part of the country and any laboratory tests that the veterinarian ran (even if the results were normal). It would also be important to determine if the owner's excellent observation of resting a hind leg went along with any signs of lameness when the donkey was asked to walk. Vaccination history (viral neurologic diseases can present like this)? If the donkey was actually dehydrated, how was that determined? Dehydration doesn't just happen if adequate water is available, meaning that abnormal water balance due to kidney or intestinal problems should be considered. ALSO, maybe it just because I used to practice on the coast, I would definitely investigate the possibility of sand accumulation in the large colon (which can cause abdominal discomfort and colic). This can be done easily with a stethoscope (put on lowest part of abdomen and listen for 5 minutes for sounds that mimic the tide running through sand on a beach), though ultrasound and x-rays are more definitive and gives you an idea of exactly how bad the problem is. Hyperlipemia would always be a concern in a case like this.
  • My donkey has his GGT result st 75 ? What would be the normal range ? And what could cause such a high result ? Thank you
    As is so often the case, the numbers behind donkey blood values tend to be small, and the establishing of normals is often not done. The important question is: does this donkey with a GGT of 75 have OTHER abnormalities? Is it eating? maintaining weight? or showing any signs of discomfort, lethargy, or inflammation? Generally, a single abnormal value, even when significantly high as in this case, doesn't mean much in the absence of any other identified problems. While it could mean liver disease, it might also be the result of an animal being out "on the end of the bell shaped curve" of normals (especially since the donkey curves are bit fuzzy), OR there might have been some problem with processing the sample (blood cells ruptured in transport, for instance). I would recommend doing a very thorough physical exam, looking at a complete blood count and chemistry panel, AND repeating the GGT for confirmation. A liver ultrasound wouldn't be a bad idea either.

    if there aren’t any concerning clinical signs and this is the only elevation seen on bloodwork, I probably wouldn’t panic, but I’d certainly recommend following-up to look at trends over time. I’m also a huge believer in trying to establish normal values for individuals, realizing that there is a pretty wide bell shaped curve for many of these indices. Given the lack of current knowledge of normal blood values in donkeys coupled with their stoic nature, I think it would be a great idea to run more routine blood chemistries, like at the time your veterinarian is doing annual vaccines and coggins tests so that you can pick up on changes that may be happening over time. Or, bank serum from routine coggins tests in the freezer so that you can always go back and compare chemistry values from when the donkey was apparently healthy, to that when he is ill.
  • A neighbor tossed insulation in their yard and their pet donkey is eating it. Will it hurt them?
    The exact problem that may be caused by the insulation will vary on what it is made out of. HOWEVER, all of these materials are indigestible and capable of causing intestinal blockage which can be fatal Donkeys chew on all sorts of thing, but synthetic fibers or rubber should be avoided.





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