Laminitis may affect smaller and less hypertrophic donkeys – the horse

Donkeys don’t neigh. They bray. They prefer to live in pairs rather than large flocks. And now, researchers have found another key difference between horses and their long-eared cousins: They have an entirely different risk of laminitis.

According to the results of the recent study, donkeys – unlike horses – most susceptible to hoof disease are younger than those who are not, do not necessarily receive additionally concentrated feed, and do not always suffer from other health problems, said Nicolas Menzies. -Gow, MA VetMB, PhD, DipECEIM, CertEM (IntMed), FHEA, MRCVS, Dipl. ECEIM, Lecturer in Equine Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK

This is contrary to the standard risk factors for ponies and horses (Equus). In horses and ponies, laminitis is more likely to affect animals that are overweight, receive a lot of concentrated starches, undergo certain medical treatments or deal with lameness. This study highlights the importance of identifying donkeys (donkey horseMenzies-Gow said) as a unique type of horse with its own set of risk factors.

“Unfortunately for many conditions, including laminitis, donkeys are just supposed to be little horses or ponies,” she said.

Comparison of records of polished donkeys and horses

Menzies-Gow and fellow researchers investigated 42 months of records for 707 donkeys living at Donkey Sanctuary, which looks after 35% of all donkeys in the UK at 11 sites across the southwest of the UK. at least one bout of laminitis — compared to up to 34 percent found in studies involving horses and ponies, she said.

Just over 40 percent of those donkeys suffered at least one recurrent episode of laminitis in the same time frame, Menzies-Gu said — similar to recurrence rates in horses. Overall, 65% of donkeys with laminitis had chronic, rather than acute, disease. About 9% died as a result of laminitis during the study period.

Menzies-Gow said the donkeys that had their first episode of laminitis in this study were smaller than those that didn’t. She explained that while the study population was relatively old — since it was a haven — age outcomes were important nonetheless. Donkeys with laminitis – an average of 19 years in this study – were older than the average age of horses and ponies with laminitis – an average of 14.8 years in previous studies.

Furthermore, in contrast to the findings in horses, donkeys with acute laminitis were “less likely to get more food than their nutritional needs, have another medical condition, undergo dental work, or motion, or diagnostic imaging in the month prior to the lamellae ring compared with the control group,” Menzies-Gow and fellow researchers reported.

Donkey management considerations in the study

“It is not surprising that donkeys differ from horses and ponies,” said Menzies Gao. the horse. “Evolutionarily, they were designed to live in very different environmental conditions than those kept in the Western world. Food is plentiful, and they do minimal physical exercise.

“Before the study was done, I thought that the risk of laminitis might be related to insulin dysregulation. However, it was not significant when doing the statistical analysis,” Menzies Gao continued. “However, it should be remembered that the dynamic test for insulin dysregulation was not performed in None of the donkeys, and basal insulin concentrations were not measured in all animals, so further studies are warranted.”

As for the effect of intermediate pituitary gland dysfunction (PPID, also known as Cushing’s disease), 20% of study donkeys and 22% of study donkeys had PPID based on basal adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations, Menzies-Gu said.

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While horses usually suffer from laminitis in the spring or late summer, when grass has the richest sugar content, the researchers saw the most cases of laminitis in donkeys in January, February, October and November, Menzies-Gao said. Because this corresponds to the period when many donkeys come to the stables off the pasture for the winter, the episodes may be related to dietary and management changes, including spending more time standing on concrete, she said. Menzies-Gau added that laminitis-related lameness was probably easier to detect once the donkeys walked on the concrete.

Moreover, since donkeys were generally euthanized in January, she hypothesized a possible link between gut microbial changes associated with worms and the development of laminitis in donkeys—a theory she said merited more in-depth research.

Because donkeys tend to be more sedate in reaction to pain, it’s possible that the experienced vets managing these donkeys in the study may have missed some cases of laminitis, Menzies-Gao said.

“The Donkey Sanctuary works hard to keep all the donkeys in its care in optimal body condition and uses all available methods of laminitis prevention,” she said. “However, laminitis can affect any donkey, horse or pony, even if everything has been done correctly to try to prevent it.”

The study was published in the Equine Veterinary Journal, online ahead of print, in September 2021.

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