Last month an exciting new Centre for Animal Welfare Education was officially opened at the University of Edinburgh’s, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The Donkey Sanctuary and the Royal (Dick) Vet School have collaborated on several animal welfare research projects in the past and we have ongoing projects at the moment as well.
The donkey is often thought of as a stoic, hardy animal which rarely shows signs of pain as a horse or pony would. Pain management and assessment is particularly difficult in donkeys due to their stoic nature and physiological and metabolic differences when compared to other equids with research in this area being limited.
Dental disease and abnormalities are common in donkeys, particularly in elderly animals. This research project aims to establish the rates of dental disease and abnormalities in the UK and overseas. We also hope to assess why these problems arise and how best to treat them.
Parasites are of major importance to the health and welfare of donkeys and mules in the UK and overseas. Traditionally parasites have been tackled by using anthelmintic drugs. Unfortunately resistance to many of the drugs available has developed in UK equids and it is important to understand and respond to this problem.
Impaction colic is one of the most common causes of illness in UK donkeys, unfortunately it also has a high mortality rate of over 50%. Impaction colic is a condition seen frequently in elderly donkeys and is often associated with dental disease. The aims of this project were to identify risk factors for the development of impaction colic in order to suggest management practices which may reduce the incidence of this common problem.
Gastric ulcers are commonly found in racehorses and have often been associated with stress and strenuous exercise. It is perhaps surprising that donkeys can also suffer from this problem too!