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Questions answered by our Donkey Doctors

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  • I’m making a donkey rub for face flies, horn flies and such - I have been told to use 13.3% permethrin diluted with mineral oil - I was told diesel at first, but then they said that could harm or even kill them. Is mineral oil ok? Or is there something better?
    I would definitely go with the mineral oil, rather than diesel. The fuel oil has additives, is flammable, and really smells bad, making the donkeys unlikely to use it, even if it wasn't poisonous. They do make Permethrin liquid for livestock repellent oilers which you can buy premixed. We have also used Neem Oil, which is a non-permethrin or pesticide, and non-toxic product that works on lice and may also work on flies.
  • I just bought a 2 year old donkey (size is between a mini and a standard). We just found out she is about 5 months pregnant. They told me she has never been wormed or vaccinated. Am I ok to give her all of her shots and dewormer now or should we wait until a certain gestation for the fetus?
    There is no problem with deworming or vaccinating her at 5 months of pregnancy. In fact you should do that right away. I would add that in the last (12 th) month of pregnancy, I would give her another booster shot (you are going to do 2 now, about 3 weeks apart). That will maximize the immunity that she will pass to her foal in the colostrum milk. Good luck!
  • I have a female minature donkey she is about to turn 2 years old in April, she is my first donkey and I don't know much about what regular vaccines she will need as the other donkeys she is with don't receive any, I want to make sure she receives the best possible care and is properly vaccinated and dewormed but I don't know where to start if there is any help/advice that can help me she gets her hooves regularly trimmed and has been handled more than the other donkeys but I don't know her weight
    Great! Glad you have a well handled mini and you are getting her hooves trimmed. The basic vaccines are similar to those used for horses: Tetanus (this is probably the most critical), Eastern and Western Equine encephalitis, and influenza (which is a much more serious disease in donkeys than it is in horses). These come in a mixed vaccine, which decreases the number of shots that your donkey will need. In some areas West Nile Virus is also recommended. If you are in a rural area, particularly in the northern half of the USA, rabies is a good idea. Some owners vaccinate for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), but it is unclear as to whether or not donkeys make a response to this vaccine. Unless your donkey is exposed to a lot of horses, it is probably not necessary. You will need to go through an initial two shot series (spaced 2-4 weeks apart) to establish initial immunity if your donkey has not previously been vaccinated or if the vaccination history is unknown. Then you can do a yearly booster, usually in the spring or at the start of mosquito season (these insects are the vectors for EEE, WEE, and West Nile). For deworming, it is best to have some of her manure checked for parasite eggs, in fact doing this at least every spring is best for all your donkeys and horses. Checking every 3 months is better. It is difficult to give accurate worming advice without knowing geographic location and exposure to pasture. However, the minimum is usually deworming in the spring after frosts stop and grass is growing, and then again after last frost in the fall to get the "bot" (Gastrophilus) larvae in the stomach. Ivermectin, Fenbedazole, and Pyrantel Pamoate are all effective dewormers in donkeys. They are also very safe, so if you overestimate her weight a little it won't hurt anything. You can get a good estimate of donkey weight by using a weight tape and a chart provided by The Donkey Sanctuary (look at their web site for weight estimation). I hope this helps
  • I gave my 1 1/2 year old donkey a shot of penicillin for a cough and I think I might have done the injection to low on her neck…will this hurt her?
    IF you gave the penicillin injection at the lower border of the neck muscles or over the cervical (neck) vertebrae you could cause your donkey to have a stiff neck , which you would have noticed soon after the injection. These will resolve with hot compresses and an analgesic like phenylbutazone ("bute") or Flunixin ("Banamine"). Very occasionally an injection between two vertebrae can enter the vertebral artery and cause severe neurologic damage. Neck injections should not be give more than 4 finger widths below the top of the neck in a standard donkey. You should also learn to palpate the cervical vertebrae to be sure that you are in the right place, because the widest part of the neck is not where injections should be given. Your local veterinarian can help you learn to feel the exact position of the vertebrae.
    Do you know why your donkey was coughing? Some causes will respond to penicillin treatment, but many will not. Some common reasons for a cough are influenza virus, lung worms, and a dental problem. None of these will respond to an antibiotic, like penicillin, and besides problems associated with injections in the wrong place, using antibiotics are not a "no downside" approach. Using antibiotics, when they are not absolutely necessary, promotes antibiotic resistance in bacteria and may also cause changes in the intestinal microflora that can result in diarrhea or endotoxemia. Generally, to be successful as a treatment, penicillin needs to be given twice daily for 5 days to two weeks. That is only if the cough is caused by bacteria that are sensitive to penicillin. We would recommend getting a diagnosis of the cause of the cough before using antibiotics.
  • My grandma have a donkey and she has not been able to take care of it. I was just asking a question this donkey has a sore in the neck from the rope that has been in it and for years and I just don't know how to take care of it right now the cut is smelling very funky so I don't know if you can help me. I can tell me now to take care of the wound.
    The first step is to remove any rope or halter from the donkey. It sounds like you need to contact your vet immediately, as your donkey probably needs antibiotics. Until the donkey can receive vet care, you need to clean the wound a minimum of two times a day with betadine or chlorhexidine and apply an antimicrobial ointment to the wound.

    No donkey or any other animal should ever have a rope around its neck long enough to cause a wound like this.
  • I live in Florida and would like to know how often my donkeys should be vaccinated and what type of vaccine is best to give them?
    The basic vaccine for all equids is Tetanus Toxoid and this should be given as a two shot series, spaced 2-4 weeks apart. After that the particular diseases are somewhat location dependent. For instance, in Norther California where I used to practice or in the northern tier of Midwestern states, Rabies is also a necessary vaccine. Further south the risk of rabies in equids is lower. Donkeys should be vaccinated yearly or even twice a year for influenza, because it is a more serious infection in donkeys than in horses. So donkeys that live in a group, especially if that includes horses that travel to shows or trail rides must be regularly vaccinated for influenza. All the virus encephalitis diseases: Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus should all be part of a vaccination program in Florida, which is far south and has mosquito vectors that these diseases require for transmission. Finally, Equine Herpes virus 1 and 4 are a consideration. They can infect donkeys, though donkeys have their own Herpes viruses, for which there are no vaccines, and occasionally cause disease in stressed animals. The efficacy of Equine Herpes vaccines in donkeys has not been studied and may or may not give any protection. So that is controversial. In summary : In Florida I would make sure that donkeys are vaccinated for Tetanus, Influenza, EEE, WEE, VEE, and WNV yearly after an appropriate two shot initial series spaced 2-4 weeks apart. Vaccination for EHV 1 and 4 is a consideration but you should ask your local veterinarian about their opinion. I 'high traffic' situations, vaccinating twice a year for Equine Influenza is a good idea. All these vaccines come in a mixed "shot", which minimizes injections and , therefore, donkey unhappiness. There is absolutely no evidence that multiple antigen vaccines "overload" the immune system. Do not pay attention to misinformation in this area.
  • My female jenny has just had a foal and can't get near either. Female hasn't got near since I got her 5 months ago.. the baby needs shots...
    The foal does not need its initial vaccinations until it is 6 weeks old (some would say 8 or 10). So you have some time. It will be harder to train the jennet with a foal, but it can be done. It will take time and patience. You will need to herd her into a pen that is maybe 12'x20' or 20'x20'. You can set that up with some panels from the feed store. Then you need to start by "hanging out": just be in a corner of the pen until the jennet or foal or both start taking an interest in you. Have some treats (we use slices of carrot) so that you can offer them if they come close. The foal will probably be easier, because you don't know the jennet's background and she may have had traumatic experiences with humans. It may be necessary to feed carrot slices in a rubber pan with you further away until she figures out that they taste good. Depending on the animal this can take a long time, but we have used the slow approach with some really wild donkeys, horses, and mules, and you can get there. Eventually, you will want to just carry a halter and a rope. Don't try to put them on, though, until they are really comfortable with you. We recommend Ben Hart ( as an advisor. He has a lot of good training plans and a ton of experience with difficult animals. If you can get the foal to eat out of your hand it will be easy to catch, but you should have somebody with experience handling foals to help you. There is a technique for holding them without a halter, which will allow vaccination, and you can easily get that done in 6 weeks. You then need to go ahead and get the pair trained to catch, halter, lead, and allow hoof trimming. None of this is "rocket science" it just takes time and patience....and what could be better than hanging out with donkeys?
  • My donkey is about 25 years old. He lives in New Mexico with a mare. Does he still need spring shots at his age. They make him very sore.
    IF your donkey has been regularly vaccinated for tetanus he can probably skip vaccination at his age and still be protected. Equine Influenza would be the other concern, as this is a more severe disease in donkeys than in horses. If you do not take the mare to places where she might become infected (and she is vaccinated) or have "horse traffic" on your premises the donkey should be pretty safe. The other diseases of concern are transmitted by mosquitos ( encephalitis and West Nile Virus). If your area is arid and mosquitos are not a problem you would, again, be pretty safe. When we have a donkey that gets sore from vaccinations, we treat them ahead of time, with flunixin (Banamine). This prevents the soreness from developing. So a little NSAID pre treatment can make vaccination a lot easier.
  • Can I give my 6 month old donkey it's first shot?
    That depends on the state. I believe you can no longer do that in California, for instance. As to what vaccines ("shots") to give it also depends on the part of the country. The basic and most important vaccine is for Tetanus. Donkeys, like all other equines, are very sensitive to the tetanus bacterium and its toxins. In other parts of the country, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, Rabies, West Nile Virus, or Lymm's Disease may also be necessary. Because donkeys are very susceptible to Equine Influenza that should be included, as it occurs everywhere. Equine Rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1 and EHV-4) is not protective in donkeys and should not be used. When it all shakes out, the best thing to do would be to consult with your local veterinarian, as it is their job to know these things. It would also be good to establish a relationship with a local veterinarian at least so you know their level of comfort with donkeys.
  • My donkey has developed pimples the whole of its body,kindly assist.
    There are a number of possibilities that could cause small lumps or pimples: bacterial infection called "dermatophilus" or "rain rot", skin fungus, or allergic reaction, usually to some kind of arthropod (insect or mite). Washing the affected areas with a cold tar shampoo and then thoroughly drying the hair and doing what you can to keep the donkey dry during the winter would be a potentially successful approach. Rinsing with a mild disinfectant: white vinegar, or dilute betadine or chlorohexidine would work. However, neither of these will treat an allergy. So the best thing to do is really to get a diagnosis, which would involve your veterinarian taking a skin scraping or skin biopsy to identify the actual cause. That would be the best approach.
  • My donkey is 3-4 years overdue for shots because he threw a fit the last time we had the vet out and she refused to vaccinate him. He had a reaction to shots, but we found that he does not react to intervet, so we can use that brand. Is there a hands-off way to vaccinate donkeys? I am now hesitant to handle him because his rabies vaccine is so overdue, so it is a vicious cycle. I've contacted every local vet I could find to see if there were any chap chur tranquilizer gun type vaccination options, but everyone just tells me to bring him to their vet clinic, which we can't do. Does anyone do hands-off vaccines? What options might I have? Thank you.
    You can administer vaccines remotely by blow dart or capture dart gun. These are used for wild animals and in zoo environments. It may be a short term solution. However, your donkey really needs to be trained to accept vaccines and medical handling. Relying on darts for the rest of the donkey's life is not a good idea and will not endear you to them. Further, if there is an emergency or if the dart equipment is unavailable or malfunctioning, there will be negative consequences. Assuming your donkey is basically trained (leads, ties up, and accepts hoof care), start by pushing into their neck with your finger and giving them a reward (we like carrot slices). Do this harder and harder until the donkey is used to pressure. Then take an empty syringe (without a needle) and do the same thing. You may have to just touch the donkey's skin the first time, but be patient, use rewards, and gently increase pressure until donkey will accept the syringe tip pushed into its skin. Then you need to get other people to do the same thing so that the donkey generalizes the fact that it does not need to fear the syringe and procedure. Eventually, using proper injection technique, a veterinarian will be able to vaccinate you donkey. We do this all the time and it works quite well. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! However, if you figure that your donkey will likely live another 30 years, this training will alleviate a lot of potential problems and welfare issues. Donkeys can be restrained more easily than horses. Using two panels or gates to "pin" them against a fence and just giving them a quick injection will also work, as will simply "snubbing" them to a strong post so that they cannot rear or back up can be done without injury. One would NEVER do this with horses. However, this sort of force should only be used in emergency situations, when there is no time to do the training. We really encourage you to work with your donkey. It will get over its aversion to vaccines given patience and enough time ("donkey time"). This has worked with donkeys and mules that are absolutely wild. We hope to get a video up in the next month demonstrating the technique.
  • Our 20 year old Donkey received vaccines a few days ago, because of a rabid Bat within 7 miles of our location they asked to ad Rabies to his vaccines he is also compromised with PPID , he has had severe reactions within the day of his vaccines, he became dripping wet within a short time as well as weakness in his back limbs, we were told that its because vaccines make the immune system work overtime and this is not unusual. I do not think this is the case, I have had horses for 40 years and not have seen this before, is it the Rabies shot..we have a horse also 20 wh had the same shots, he is also not himself but nothing like our Donkey
    It would be helpful to know what brand of rabies vaccine was used. GENERALLY, rabies vaccine (which in all cases is a killed vaccine, that is there is no living virus in the vaccine) is one of the ones that are least likely to cause a reaction. I would not say that vaccines of any kind make the immune system "work overtime". They do expose the immune system to a foreign material that may, in the animal's future pose the threat of infection, thus readying the immune system for a normal response. When reactions to vaccines occur it is because the donkey (human or any animal) has developed a hypersensitivity (or allergy) to some part of the vaccine. this could be the killed virus, the carrying agent, or the adjuvant (something that is added to improve the normal immune response). You can test the donkey for its level of immunity to rabies. This would be a good idea rather than repeating the vaccination (usually done in 1 year). Vaccine reactions are very rare but any animal can develop a hypersensitivity to just about anything. The reason for this the subject of a large amount of research, and the causes are controversial. The most important vaccinations for donkeys are tetanus and influenza, followed by virus encephalitis (West Nile, EEE and WEE) in some parts of the country.
  • Hi, I own a mini mare hinny that was used for roping, she is affraid of human's. I purchased her and her sister from a local rescue. I've been rehabilitating my two hinnies for about 3 months. The sister is coming along nicely I can pretty much do anything with her. The hinny I'm writing about is very, very slowly learning to trust me. My question, the hinny has slip her halter off of one ear and the halter is rubbing her skin in front of her ear and behind the other ear, she came with the halter on. She needs to be sedated to remove her halter. My vet has tried 3 different type sedations. Using a blow gun, Doseamine IM, orally Acepromazine 1 1/2 ml in grain didn't work gave her another 1 1/2 ml with grain 40 minutes after the first dose, no effect. Today, 50 mg's of Aceprom tabs in her grain, no results. My vet is and equine vet, but because she is a hinny and weights about 275 pounds he's at a loss of what to give her and the dosage. Do you have any suggestions? The medication needs to go in her grain.
    Thank you
    For mules you need to go with 1 1/2 to 2x the dose of Detomidine (Dormosadan). We would use 0.02 -0.08 mg/kg in a horse. So I would go at least 0.08 - 0.12 mg/kg IM or orally in a mule. Then you need to wait 40 minutes without ANY stimulation. Acepromazine will never adequately sedate a significantly scared animal. It just 'takes the edge off' and prevents windup anxiety. Detomidine gel is available and can be mixed with grain. Some will eat it, some won't. As with any sedation in a really wild or frightened animal you may get what appears to be profound sedation, only to have it spook and run off when approached. Personally, i would construct an alley with a side gate chute, as you see at rodeo arenas. Then habituate the mule to this restraint with feed. Allowing the mule two walk through the chute for several days. Once that is done using treats and calm words (and maybe a little Detomidine in the feed) you can slip the halter off or readjust it. You can also use the chute to help gentle the mule. The chute can be made with four 6" posts set in concrete so that the top rail is 5-6 feet high. Use 2x6 planks for the sides and put it together with screws, not nails. You will need a gate at the front, one at the back, and on at least one side, and an "v" shaped alley at the back to make it possible to get the mule in to the chute. All this minimizes trauma to the animal and makes it possible to quietly restrain them.

    There are protocols for dart immobilization of mules, donkeys, and horses. As with any sort of drug based approach there are always going to be risks.
  • What do recommend for vaccines annually?
    While necessary vaccines differ depending on management system and part of the country, the Core vaccines are:

    - Tetanus (tetanus toxoid)

    - Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE and WEE)

    - Equine influenza (this is different from horses where influenza is not necessarily a core vaccine. "Flu" is a much more serious disease in donkeys.)

    - West Nile Virus (WNV) (in most parts of the country)

    Note: all vaccines should be properly started with a single injection, followed by a second ('booster') injection 2-3 weeks later. Failure to do this may result in incomplete immunity. Further booster vaccinations should be given on a yearly basis. EEE, WEE, and WNV should be boostered before the spring mosquito season starts. In parts of the country where mosquitos are active year around, repeating the EEE, WEE, and WNV vaccines every 6 months may be a good idea. If donkeys are transported frequently, or exposed to a large, transient horse population influenza vaccine may need to be given more than once a year.

    Other vaccines that may be important:

    - Rabies: in some parts of rural USA rabies is common in the raccoon, skunk, fox, or bat populations. In these areas equines, including donkeys should be vaccinated for local rabies recommendations.

    - Potomac Horse Fever : donkeys are theoretically susceptible to this disease and in parts of the country where the disease is common (east and south east) vaccination should be considered. This vaccine can be purchased as mixed with rabies vaccine.

    - Streptococcus equi or "strangles" : donkeys are susceptible to this equine disease. Control methods are controversial and should be discussed with your local veterinarian. Quarantine and Hygiene will generally keep this contagious disease out of a herd. Both live and killed vaccines exist, but they are associated with complications and should only be used in special situations.
  • What vaccine should I give my donkey?
    It is always best to check with an equine veterinarian for any specific needs in your area.

    At PVDR, we use the following:
    Vetera Gold XP + VEE is a combination vaccine for use in healthy horses 4 months of age and older as an aid in the prevention of disease caused by: Equine Influenza Virus (type A2), Equine Encephalomyelitis (Eastern, Western and Venezuelan), Equine Rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1 and EHV-4), Tetanus and West Nile Virus. Vetera Gold XP + VEE aids in the reduction of severity of clinical disease caused by West Nile Virus. It protects against the Ohio/03 (Clade 1), Richmond/07 (Clade 2) and Kentucky/95 Equine Influenza Virus strains. Available in 1 dose/1 ml syringe or 10 dose/10 ml vial.


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