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Case Study: Martha the Redwings Donkey


colic in donkeys

This case study outlines how the Avonvale Equine Vets team treated Martha for impaction colic. We also highlight the importance of recognising the signs of colic in donkeys, which tend to be much less obvious than they are in horses or ponies. 


Martha Displays Subtle Signs of Colic

Martha is a donkey who lives at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Oxhill. Last February, she was a little under the weather. The team at Redwings had noticed Martha was lying down a little more than usual and had passed fewer droppings than normal.

Martha was seen by vet Marika who was quite concerned about Martha. Unlike horses, donkeys tend not to display overt signs of colic or illness. Donkeys who have very serious problems will often only be a little quiet or off food, whereas horses tend to be sicker, colic more violently and display more notable clinical signs. This can mean that it is much harder to detect and treat colic in donkeys.


Our Vets Treat Martha for Impaction Colic

Marika examined Martha and decided to start treatment for impaction colic – which was the most likely explanation for her discomfort – she was stomach-tubed with fluids and given pain relief.

Later in the day Martha was still quite dull, not interested in food and not passing droppings. At this point she was admitted to the Avonvale Equine clinic in Ratley for further monitoring and treatment.

Martha was further assessed and although a definitive diagnosis was difficult to reach, an ongoing impaction was presumed. Martha is quite small in stature, making thorough rectal examination difficult. Martha didn’t display any obvious colic signs like rolling and pawing, but her heart rate was elevated and she was quite dull – both of which are cause for concern in a donkey.

colic in donkeys


Overnight Monitoring, Treatment and Recovery

The on-call team that night were vet Claire and nurse Fiona. They instigated further treatment with a combination of intravenous and oral fluids. Martha was closely monitored throughout the night and improved significantly. By morning, her heart rate was back to normal and she had started passing droppings. She was able to go home later that day into the care of the Redwings team and she has had no further problems.


colic in donkeys


Avonvale Equine Vet Practice

At Avonvale Equine Vet Practice, we cater for all equines, including donkeys. Our experienced and dedicated equine vets understand the unique nature and requirements of donkeys, and can provide routine healthcare, dentistry and emergency care.

If you have any concerns about your donkey, please get in touch and speak to one of our vets on 01295 670501 or register your donkey with us today.


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