Learning About Vet Care For Pets And Farm Animals

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Getting A Pet That Brays? Care Tips For A Happy, Healthy Donkey

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After years of being overshadowed by their equine relatives, donkeys are now enjoying increasing popularity as pets or even as helpful pasture mates for other animals. In fact, if you are a donkey enthusiast who has not already acquired one of your own, you may want to consider adopting one of the many currently in need of a great home and some tender loving care. Known for their ability to thrive in harsh conditions on poor-quality feeds, donkeys that are adopted into new homes can sometimes develop hoof and other health issues when fed rich food or allowed to eat more than they need. If you currently share your life with a lovable donkey friend or hope to do so in the future, the following care tips will help you keep them healthy and happy.

Equid or ruminant?

While the donkey digestive track is physically similar to that of horses, technically classifying them as equids, their ability to efficiently utilize fiber as food is ruminant-like, much like a goat or cow. It is this efficiency that causes them to be extremely susceptible to overfeeding when their diet is too plentiful or too rich, resulting in hoof and other health issues.

Feeding for Health

Donkeys are wonderful foragers, often being quite happy to nibble on bushes, weeds, and brushy vegetation that most other grazing animals avoid. This type of eating provides them with the fiber they need to maintain proper digestion. If your donkey has access to this type of pasture, they will be able to successfully forage for their food throughout much of the year.

However, if you must keep your donkey penned in a small area without fiber-rich vegetation to browse, you will want to provide them with straw to nibble on each day along with a small amount of grassy hay. In addition, make sure that you avoid feeding them grains, pellets, or other foods that may be too high in protein or carbohydrates for their systems. Donkeys also need constant access to fresh, clean water, although you will find that they drink far less than most other equines.

Veterinarian and Farrier Care

Donkeys also benefit from a periodic physical assessment by a reputable equine veterinarian who can assess their body condition and make recommendations for any feeding or care needs they may have. It is important to also have the veterinarian examine your donkey's hooves to determine if they need to be trimmed by an equine farrier and to make sure that no hoof health issues are developing that could cause lameness or pain.