Donkey Diseases
Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre

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Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre

Holistic Vet - Homeopathic Vet - Acupuncture Vet - Herbal Vet - Natural Vet

Diseases of Donkeys

Building this page is an ongoing work.

Here we describe various donkey diseases, with reference to acupuncture, herbal treatment, homeopathic treatment, chiropractic manipulation etc., where appropriate. We invite and accept referrals for complementary and alternative medicine treatments.

see also: Donkey Cases

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Herbal Acupuncture Homeopathy Chiropractic Nutrition Natural Holistic

Donkey Disease List

 
Abscess Arthritis   Back & Neck Problems Colic
COPD Dermatophilus Dysautonomia Grass Sickness Hoof Abscess
  Hoof Deformity   Hyperlipaemia  
Kidney Disease Laminitis Liver Disease Skin Problems Stress & Mental Conditions

 



ABSCESS

Abscesses occur most commonly in the hoof, either following injury, puncture wound or laminitis degeneration. We have found from experience that antibiotics have not been necessary to treat hoof abscesses, so long as the abscess is properly opened and good homeopathic prescribing is used (e.g. Hepar sulphuris in the acute phase) to help drive out infection. We believe, and experience bears out the theory, that the body is sufficiently well equipped to deal with such infections if it is both healthy and well-managed. Relying on antibiotics to treat a hoof abscess can lead to less careful management and poorer or slower resolution (see also: Hoof Care).

Puncture wounds should be treated with homeopathic Ledum and the wound should be opened to allow drainage.

A poultice or dressing may be necessary to prevent mud from being forced into the wound. As a poultice for the foot, we favour the old Mag. sulph. paste (aka Morisons Paste) to expensive prepared starch-type poultices, which can struggle to keep close contact to the required area. This is a powerful and very effective means of drawing out lymph and, with it, the infection.

Abscessation of lymph glands can follow infection of a tooth root or can result from Strangles. Again, skilled homeopathic prescribing can usually deal with Strangles or a tooth abscess.

An abscess can develop elsewhere on the body but that is not a common call on our time. Treatment with appropriate homeopathy and warm bathing is usually adequate.

Copyright © AVMC November 2011

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ARTHRITIS

What is it?

The term ‘arthritis’ implies inflammation of a joint or joints. Taken literally, this can include a simple sprain but it is more often used to describe osteo-arthritis, in which long-term bony changes occur in the skeleton, around the joints. These changes can result in swelling and deformation of the joint, with reduced range of flexion and extension. The resultant pain and altered movement can cause lameness or can, in bad cases, be quite crippling. This is possibly one of the the most common reasons for a lame donkey (limping donkey).

What causes it?

Arthritis can result from a poorly healed injury, ruptured ligaments, developmental problems such as OCD, infective damage, surgery, repetitive strain injury, degenerative joint disease (DJD) or auto-immunity. The chronic inflammation around the joint stimulates new bone formation, which alters the shape of the joint, restricts the range of movement and gives rise to pain. Diet itself may play a part in aetiology.

Is it treatable?

By and large, the answer is yes. A cure may not be possible but positive responses can result in reduced symptoms or even apparent disappearance of symptoms in the best cases. Mobility and quality of life can generally be improved or restored and drug usage can be reduced or removed.

In conventional medicine, it is usual to try to suppress the inflammatory reaction and block the pain response with pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), steroid/cortisone or a combination of these). This is a life-time task and not every donkey can tolerate these drugs. Progression of the disease is not altered by these drugs. Surgery may be offered, to alter the structure of the joint or to stabilise the increased movement.

In natural medicine, at the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre, we try to stimulate healthier and more normal skeletal remodelling, aiming for long-term improvement in joint shape and structure. This is achieved using homeopathy and diet. We try to rebalance the body’s inflammatory responses, thus reducing or removing pain. In difficult cases, lameness and pain may be more directly controlled by acupuncture or by specific homeopathic or herbal medication. LASER therapy may also play a part. Magnet therapy shows great promise, in some cases (it is not usually possible to predict which cases) and can alter the whole situation over a period.

Diet is an essential component of holistic treatment, in that the immune system will heal much more quickly and more effectively if given a natural, healthy, unprocessed diet. Healthy skeletal structure depends upon feeding healthy raw materials, thus exploiting the opportunity presented by the inevitable constant recycling and replacement of the skeleton. The activity of inflammatory mediators can be modified through diet. Certain supplements may have a beneficial effect (e.g. vitamins, essential fatty acids and cartilage precursors (but most are not 'vegetarian'), alfalfa etc.). Furthermore, some arthritis occurs solely as a result of an unhealthy processed diet.

In order to try to optimise the way in which the donkey uses his skeleton, we use chiropractic manipulation in each case. There are usually multiple skeletal misalignments in arthritis cases. Some of these may be part of the ‘cause’ and some may be part of the ‘effect’ of the disease. In either case, better movement results in better healing capability.

Many cases attest to the benefits of this approach.

Copyright © AVMC - August 2002

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BACK & NECK PROBLEMS

What is it?

Back problems can be extremely disabling for a donkey. Problems can vary from simple soreness, with sensitivity to pressure, through spinal and pelvic misalignments to a full-blown injury. There may or may not be chronic pathology.

You can recognise back problems by the donkey’s reaction to grooming and manual pressure. He may not have a symmetrical hind limb action and his tail may be held to one side. He may hold his head too high or even lift his head sharply during upward transitions. Neck problems can often be recognised through abnormal head movement.

The existence of back problems appears to have been largely ignored or denied by the veterinary profession, over the years. More recently, however, there is greater recognition of the existence of problems.

Is it responsive to treatment?

The conventional response to this disease is to use anti-inflammatory agents. These will sometimes reduce symptoms but will do little to address the cause.

Proper resolution of back problems cannot take place, however, until any spinal or pelvic misalignments are corrected (McTimoney Chiropractic). The Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre performs chiropractic manipulation work, alongside the healing stimulus of acupuncture, LASER and homeopathy. This integrated approach is usually enough to correct most back problems. Advice is also given on therapeutic and preventive static or dynamic exercise programmes. We have a special interest in back work, at the AVMC.

Even the independent NHS watchdog, NICE (N.I.C.E. - National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), has recognised the potential benefit from acupuncture and manipulation in the relief of human back pain (as of May 2009 -

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6368290.ece).

 

However, many conventional vets appear to be very suspicious of the practice, to the potential detriment of many of their patients.

'The Back Man'

There are many ‘back people’ who ply their trade. Animal-qualified chiropractors are examined by the McTimoney Chiropractic Association. These are genuine. Of those without this qualification, some will, of course, also be genuine but caution is advised in using someone without the qualification. Some self-appointed back people are frankly dangerous.

Physiotherapists work on the musculature, which can be very valuable in suitable cases, but most with whom we have had contact do not acknowledge spinal misalignment.

All chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists and other manipulators are required, by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, to work only on the recommendation of a vet and under the supervision of a vet.

Gadgets

Many pieces of equipment are recommended, by salespersons or practitioners, for back problems. Ultra-sound, LASER therapy, Magnet, Faradic and TENS are but a few of these. Before embarking on such programmes, which can be expensive quite apart from safety and welfare considerations, please consult your vet, to enquire about suitability or safety for the particular donkey. You may need to consult a vet who is experienced in a full range of holistic therapies for donkeys, to access the necessary expertise to evaluate these tools.

See also: Pelvic misalignment article

See also: http://www.chiropractic-vet.co.uk

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Copyright © AVMC August 2002

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COLIC

Homeopathy has been very successful in the treatment of 'non-surgical' colic in donkeys, rare though it is. We are willing to discuss first aid remedies that should be in every medicine chest.

This section is in preparation. Meanwhile, visit: www.alternativevet.org/horse_diseases.htm#colic

We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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COPD

What is it?

The acronym stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is the modern name for ‘broken wind’ or ‘heaves’.

It is characterised by a chronic tendency to cough and to breathe with forced expiration, on account of the narrowing of bronchioles. The resting respiration rate is usually markedly increased from the normal rate, which is below 12 per minute. Exercise tolerance is reduced.

How does it occur?

There is an allergic element, usually with pollen or mould spores acting as an aggravating stimulus. Viral infection can alter immune responses, as can vaccination.

Are there preventive measures to take?

It is wise to ensure good ventilation, with freedom from draughts. It is also advised to restrict or remove access to hay and straw moulds. Hemp bedding may help prevent dust and ammonia from the floor. If the donkey can out-winter, so much the better. If Spring-time pollens are the trigger, there is little that can be done to prevent or limit exposure. Tree pollens, especially elder, are very allergenic.

Is it responsive to treatment?

The conventional response to this disease is to use broncho-dilating drugs and sometimes anti-inflammatory agents. These will reduce symptoms.

Using natural medicine methods, especially homeopathy, we aim to cure the disease or at least reduce the tendency. Happily, we succeed in these endeavours in most cases. The prescription is chosen on the basis of constitutional features, since this is a chronic disease, and there may be a need for symptom-based prescribing in support.

Common homeopathic remedies, that have worked in past cases, are Thuja, Arsenicum, Calcarea, Silica, Lycopodium, Nux vomica, Natrum muriaticum, Natrum sulphuricum, Spongia, Cuprum aceticum, Tuberculinum, Phosphorus, Bryonia, Pulsatilla.

Copyright © AVMC August 2002

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DERMATOPHILUS - RAIN SCALD

Rain scald is the term given to describe the crusty, flaky skin condition, usually over the back, which affects horses and other equidae, usually associated with Dermatophilus infection. It can tend to follow a pattern similar to that caused by pouring scalding water over the back, i.e. descending streaks of lesions running down the sides of the donkey. It usually responds well to homeopathy.

This is usually a treatable condition, using homeopathy.

*This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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GRASS SICKNESS

Equine Dysautonomia

This is a serious and life-threatening disease of equines, usually affecting grazing animals, hence its name. The exact cause has been very obscure but theories now point towards botulism toxin as a trigger.

This is not a disease in which we can say homeopathy is the complete answer but we have seen a proportion of cases recover, albeit with devoted nursing over an extended period to keep them alive and to help them to pull through.

The disease is characterised by a paralysis of the entire digestive system. Even with homeopathic help, a good outcome is not assured.

If homeopathic help is wanted, we recommend that an experienced homeopathic veterinary surgeon should be consulted without delay, to work alongside your conventional veterinary surgeon.

*This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC - August 2009

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HOOF ABSCESS - FOOT ABSCESS

See: Abscess

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HOOF DEFORMITY

Hoof deformity arises from laminitis or from consistently allowing the hooves to become overgrown. Regular foot trimming is essential, unless the donkey is exercising on an abrasive surface, for a significant time each day.

There are extreme dietary factors which can affect hoof growth, such as zinc or sulphur deficiency. These factors are unlikely, under normal circumstances.

Copyright © AVMC August 2002

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HYPERLIPAEMIA

This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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KIDNEY DISEASE

This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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LAMINITIS

Case history

What is it?

This is an extremely distressing and painful condition for a donkey. The problem is usually seasonal, in the spring and summer months, although it can occur at other times (in fact the cited case did arise just after Christmas)

It is characterised by heat in the feet, obvious signs of pain, unwillingness to move and a characteristic backward-leaning posture, relieving the front feet.

Affected donkeys often have an enlarged crest (an early-warning sign) and will often show a pronounced pulse in the lower limbs.

How does it occur?

The condition is usually triggered by excessive access to rich spring grass or rich concentrate feeding. It has been seen as a result of steroid (cortisone) treatment, ingestion of nettles sprayed with herbicide (including even so-called livestock-safe herbicides) and the application of artificial nitrogen during or before turn-out.

Over-feeding is a common ingredient in causality. Donkeys will often do very well on little keep and having a plump shape can bring susceptible donkeys into danger.

The condition may be caused by a sudden change in bowel flora populations, rather in the way that clostridial diseases affect sheep. The disease can also arise through metritis (womb infection), liver disease, respiratory infection, shock or chronically overgrown feet.

Are there preventive measures to take?

It is wise to restrict access to grass, for susceptible donkeys. Artificial nitrogen fertilisers should never be used in donkey pastures, or in hay fields. None of the changes in grass, brought about by nitrogen application, are beneficial to donkeys and most are frankly harmful. We explain the main aspects of this to clients. Weed killers are ALWAYS dangerous, whatever it says on the label. This is especially true when nettles start to wilt after treatment and are then eaten. Donkeys should be kept slim. No ‘hard feed should be given and sugars (e.g. molasses) are definitely to be avoided. Some of the commercial foods that are 'recommended' for laminitis-susceptible donkeys and ponies surprisingly contain molasses, which, in our opinion, renders them highly unsuitable. Sadly, sponsorship deals and advertising contracts can take the place of best practice, when offering advice on feeding products.

Is it responsive to treatment?

The conventional response to this disease is to use anti-inflammatory agents. These will sometimes reduce symptoms.

Using natural medicine methods, especially homeopathy, acupuncture and herbs, we aim to cure the disease or at least reduce the tendency. Diet work is also vital, since bowel function has a massive effect on metabolism and health. At the AVMC, we have succeeded in the vast majority of cases. This is sometimes only by satisfactorily ‘controlling’ the problem, not ‘curing’ it, but a cure is possible in some cases. A homeopathic prescription is chosen on the basis of constitutional features, since this is a chronic disease, and there may be a need for symptom-based homeopathic prescribing in support. Acupuncture can be very helpful for acute severe cases, to bring rapid pain relief at the outset of treatment.

Common homeopathic remedies, that have worked in past cases, chosen according to signs in the individual patient, are Aconitum, Belladonna, Nux vomica, Natrum muriaticum, Phosphorus, Bryonia and Pulsatilla.

Chronic laminitis

Donkeys who have suffered repeated attacks, or a single severe attack, can show foot deformities (including rotated or dropped pedal bones). Their feet can often become very overgrown. At the AVMC, we aim to restore a near-original hoof shape and structure. The situation is rarely hopeless and efforts should always be made to restore correct shape and function. Sometimes, the methods that are most suitable appear to be counter-intuitive, but the rewards make the effort worthwhile in most cases. It is certainly not good to accept a worsening foot shape, albeit disguised by heavy ‘dumping’ of the toe, since this will eventually lead to disaster. We are always happy to discuss this important aspect with the farriers who attend our patients.

The outlook

The donkey world tends to be very pessimistic about laminitis but the outlook does not have to be bad, in all but a very few cases. While lifestyle and welfare can inevitably be compromised during the early stages, restoration of more normal grazing capability and exercise tolerance can bring back a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Copyright © AVMC August 2002

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LIVER DISEASE

This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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SKIN PROBLEMS

This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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STRESS & MENTAL CONDITIONS

This section is in preparation. We have a policy of ongoing improvement, augmentation and updating, so that our website is constantly changing. We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and found it helpful, so that you will revisit us soon, to see the latest developments. Put the home page in your 'bookmarks'/'favourites', for ease of revisiting.

Why not take a few moments to send us your comments and feedback, along with requests for new pages, to let us know what we have done well and to help our policy of constant improvement?

Thank you for spending some time with us.
Best wishes from the webmaster and team.

Copyright © AVMC November 2002

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Herbal Acupuncture Homeopathy Chiropractic Nutrition Natural Holistic

Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre

Holistic Vet - Homeopathic Vet - Acupuncture Vet - Herbal Vet - Natural Vet

Copyright © AVMC - March 2007

 

AVMC - 25 years old in March 2012!

Having used alternative medicine since 1972, Chris Day established the AVMC as a dedicated Holistic Veterinary practice in March 1987.

With 40 years of experience in the field, Chris is the UK's longest serving homeopathic vet and holistic vet.

 

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