Recent research suggests that guidelines for laminitis treatment and prevention in horses cannot necessarily be extrapolated to donkeys.
The study found that laminitis is common in donkeys, but factors associated with laminitis in donkeys differ from those reported in horses.
Nicola Menzies-Gow and colleagues checked the medical records of all 707 donkeys living on eleven farms run by the Donkey Sanctuary in the south-west of the UK. They found that over a period of 42 months, nearly half (48.5%) of donkeys experienced at least one bout of laminitis. Most (65%) of these episodes involved chronic laminitis.
The researchers compared the medical records of donkeys that did or did not experience laminitis, to identify factors that differed between the groups.
They found that affected animals were:
1) less likely to have had concentrate food
2) less likely to have another medical condition
3) less likely to have undergone dental work, diagnostic imaging or surgery in the month before developing laminitis
4) more likely to be younger when they first had laminitis
A full report of the research is published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.
The authors conclude that factors associated with laminitis in donkeys cannot necessarily be extrapolated from horse and pony studies.
However, they caution that these results may not apply to the wider donkey population and they suggest the need for further investigation in animals kept under different management conditions.
For more details, see:
Cross-sectional study to identify the prevalence of and factors associated with laminitis in UK donkeys
Nicola J. Menzies-Gow, Frederica Wakeel, Holly Little, Jesus Buil, Karen Rickards
Equine Veterinary Journal (2021)