Key Concepts for Managing Donkey Feet

Researchers looked at donkeys’ unique hoof care needs. Here’s what they recommend.

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Key Concepts for Managing Donkey Feet
A donkey's foot is narrow and conical, and can absorb excessive mositure. These 'wet feet' make the hooves of donkeys prone to infection. | Photo: iStock

With more than 40 million donkeys populating the world, and most of them involved in work rather than showing or recreation, these animals’ health is important to many countries’ productivity. Like other ungulates, including horses, donkeys frequently suffer from hoof disease and hoof-related lameness. In many cases these hoof disorders are preventable, but they necessitate veterinarian, farrier, and owner cooperation.

In a recent published review on donkey hoof disorders, Alex Thiemann, MA, Vet MB, Cert EP, MSc, MRCVS, and colleague Luke Poore, MA, Vet MB, Cert EO, MRCVS, from the Veterinary Department of The Donkey Sanctuary, in Devon, U.K., explained that donkeys and horses have distinct behavioral and anatomic differences. Appreciating these differences will help caretakers improve the treatment of donkey feet, allowing them to perform their work with minimal to no discomfort, Thiemann said.

“The stoic nature of donkeys compared to horses often delays the recognition of pain stemming from the feet,” Thiemann said

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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