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Preliminary investigation into relationships between donkey and horse skull morphology and brain morphology

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Date presented: 
Thursday 23 November 2017
Abstract

All horses and donkeys belong to the genus Equus but anatomical and behavioural differences exist among species. Equus caballus displays distinctive conformational attributes among breeds provisionally related to ganglion cell distribution and skull and brain morphology. Equus asinus shows less variation in skull shape, and little is known about brain organisation. The current research compared skull and brain morphology between horses and donkeys. Skulls of Equus caballus, primarily of Standardbred type (N=14) and Equus asinus (N=16), were obtained postmortem. All animals had been humanely euthanised for reasons unrelated to this study. Heads were sectioned sagitally along the midline and photographed for measurement of various skull structures using Image J software. Measurements included: skull index (SI)=zygomatic width*100/skull length; cranial index (CI)=cranial width*100/cranial length; nasal index (NI)=zygomatic width*100/nasal length; cranial profile index (CPI)=rectangular area bordered by an 80mm line from orbital notch and occiput; nasal profile index (NPI)= rectangular area bordered by 80mm line from orbital notch and tip of nasal bone; olfactory lobe area (OLA); OL pitch [angle between hard palate and the OL axis]; brain pitch [angle between longitudinal axis of the cerebral hemispheres and the hard palate]; and whorl location (WL) [distance of OL from the level of the forehead whorl]. A General Linear Model determined the main effect of species with Sidak’s multiple comparisons of species’ differences among the various measurements. Donkeys had shorter heads (cranial lengths) than horses (19.7±2.5 vs 23.6±1.4cm respectively; F1,23=51.49, P<0.0002). Donkeys also had smaller cranial widths (13±3.4cm; F1,17=15.91, P<0.001) and mandibular depths (24±2.6cm; F1,21=13.05, P<0.002) than horses (19±0.8 and 27.2±1.1cm, respectively). There was no species difference in SI, ZI, or NI (P>0.40), but donkeys tended to have a smaller CI than horses (F1,17=3.59, P<0.08). Similarly, donkeys had a smaller CPI than horses (F1,21=7.54, P<0.034), but there was no difference in NPI (F1,21=0.05, P>0.83). Donkeys also had a smaller OLA than horses (1.4±0.3 vs 2.3±1.3cm2 respectively; F1,13=4.96, P<0.05) although there was no difference in brain pitch (F1,23=0.69, P>0.43). The greatest difference was seen in WL, which corresponded to the level of the OL in horses, but was extremely rostral in donkeys (F1,21=24.29, P<0.0001). These results show clear differentiation in skull morphology between horses and donkeys which may be linked to behaviour. This may be useful in validating different approaches in the training and management of horses versus donkeys.

Lay person message: Horses demonstrate specific behaviours which may be associated with skull shape, although nothing is known about this relationship in donkeys. This pilot study has shown that donkeys have smaller brain cases and olfactory lobes than Standardbred horses. Donkeys’ facial whorls are located lower down the face while horses’ are in close proximity to the brain’s olfactory lobe. Clarifying differences between horses and donkeys is crucial to understanding species-specific behavioural responses and providing appropriate management and training practices.

Nutritional Management of Hyperlipaemia

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Andy Durham, Alexandra K. Thiemann. May 2015. Nutritional Management of Hyperlipaemia. Equine Veterinary Education.

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Publication date: 
26 May 2015
DOI number: 
10.1111/eve.12366
Abstract

Hyperlipaemia is a disease resulting from excessive mobilisation of triglyceride stores such that plasma clearance processes become overwhelmed. Consequently increased plasma triglyceride concentrations (>5.6 mmol/l), visibly cloudy plasma and a sick, anorexic or hypophagic subject follow. Epidemiological studies have identified many predisposing and triggering factors and the attentive carer or veterinary surgeon should be alert to such risk factors so that the disease can be prevented, or at least identified and treated at an early stage. Hyperlipaemic subjects are invariably in a negative energy balance, and nutritional management therefore plays a central role in both the prevention and resolution of the disease.

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Viraemic frequencies and seroprevalence of non-primate hepacivirus and equine pegiviruses in horses and other mammalian species

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Sinead Lyons, Amit Kapoor, Bradley Schneider, Nathan Wolfe, Geoff Culshaw, Brendan Corcoran, Andy Durham, Faith A. Burden, Bruce McGorum, Peter Simmonds. September 2014. Viraemic frequencies and seroprevalence of non-primate hepacivirus and equine pegiviruses in horses and other mammalian species. Journal of General Virology.

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Publication date: 
5 September 2014
DOI number: 
10.1099/vir.0.065094-0
Abstract

Non-primate hepacivirus (NPHV), equine pegivirus (EPgV) and Theiler's disease associated virus (TDAV) are newly discovered members of two genera in the Flaviviridae family, Hepacivirus and Pegivirus respectively, that include human hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human pegivirus (HPgV). To investigate their epidemiology, persistence and clinical features of infection, large cohorts of horses and other mammalian species were screened for NPHV, EPgV and TDAV viraemia and for past exposure through serological assays for NPHV and EPgV-specific antibodies. NPHV antibodies were detected in 43% of 328 horses screened for antibodies to NS3 and core antibodies, of which three were viraemic by PCR. All five horses that were stablemates of a viraemic horse were seropositive, as was a dog on the same farm. With this single exception, all other species were negative for NPHV antibodies and viraemia (donkeys (n=100), dogs (n=112), cats (n=131), non-human primates (n=164) and humans (n=362). EPgV antibodies to NS3 were detected in 66.5% of horses, including 11 of the 12 horses that had EPgV viraemia. All donkey samples were negative for EPgV antibody and RNA. All horse and donkey samples were negative for TDAV RNA. By comparing viraemia frequencies in horses with and without liver disease, no evidence was obtained that supported an association between active NPHV and EPgV infections with hepatopathy. The study demonstrates that NPHV and EPgV infections are widespread and enzootic in the study horse population and confirms that NPHV and potentially EPgV have higher frequencies of viral clearance than HCV and HPgV infections in humans.

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Review of Physiological Differences Between Donkeys and Horses

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Karen Rickards. Review of Physiological Differences Between Donkeys and Horses. Presented at 2nd Donkey Welfare Symposium. (7 November - 9 November 2014). California, USA.

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Date presented: 
Saturday 8 November 2014

Review: Pharmacology and therapeutics in donkeys

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Non-DS research

This publication may be of interest, however, The Donkey Sanctuary has had no direct involvement with this publication, and claims no credit for published results.

To our best knowledge donkey welfare has not been compromised, and the following published research is furthering the understanding and respect of donkeys worldwide.

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D. A. Grosenbaugh, C. R. Reinemeyer, D. Figueiredo. October 2011. Review: Pharmacology and therapeutics in donkeys. Equine Veterinary Education. 23:10. 523-530.

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Publication date: 
1 October 2011
Volume: 
23
Issue: 
10
Page numbers: 
523-530
DOI number: 
10.1111/j.2042-3292.2011.00291.x
Abstract

Therapeutics are often administered to donkeys based on dosage and intervals recommended for horses because very few drugs have donkey-specific label indications. Yet differences between donkeys and horses in drug distribution, metabolism and elimination have been noted for most therapeutic agents studied. These differences can be partially explained by the donkey's unique physiology. Since their ancestors evolved in a desert environment, the modern donkey exhibits qualities that allow them to tolerate dehydration better than the horse and recover more quickly from its effects. Fluid balance and body water compartment partitioning differ from the horse and may have implications regarding drug distribution. Since donkeys are preferential browsers, differences in diet may have influenced evolutionary differences in metabolic disposition of drugs. It is important to acknowledge these differences when designing dose regimes for donkeys based on horse protocols in order to avoid either lack of efficacy or toxicity.

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Comparative pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in clinically normal horses and donkeys

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Disclaimer

Non-DS research

This publication may be of interest, however, The Donkey Sanctuary has had no direct involvement with this publication, and claims no credit for published results.

To our best knowledge donkey welfare has not been compromised, and the following published research is furthering the understanding and respect of donkeys worldwide.

Citation

Melissa D. Sinclair, Katrina L. Mealey, Nora Matthews, Ken E. Peck, Tex S. Taylor, Brad S. Bennett. July 2006. Comparative pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in clinically normal horses and donkeys. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 67:6. 1082-1085.

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Publication date: 
1 July 2006
Volume: 
67
Issue: 
6
Page numbers: 
1082-1085
DOI number: 
10.2460/ajvr.67.6.1082
Abstract

Objective: To determine the disposition of a bolus of meloxicam (administered IV) in horses and donkeys (Equus asinus) and compare the relative pharmacokinetic variables between the species.

Animals: 5 clinically normal horses and 5 clinically normal donkeys.

Procedures: Blood samples were collected before and after IV administration of a bolus of meloxicam (0.6 mg/kg). Serum meloxicam concentrations were determined in triplicate via high-performance liquid chromatography. The serum concentration-time curve for each horse and donkey was analyzed separately to estimate standard noncompartmental pharmacokinetic variables.

Results: In horses and donkeys, mean +/- SD area under the curve was 18.8 +/- 7.31 microg/mL/h and 4.6 +/- 2.55 microg/mL/h, respectively; mean residence time (MRT) was 9.6 +/- 9.24 hours and 0.6 +/- 0.36 hours, respectively. Total body clearance (CL(T)) was 34.7 +/- 9.21 mL/kg/h in horses and 187.9 +/- 147.26 mL/kg/h in donkeys. Volume of distribution at steady state (VD(SS)) was 270 +/- 160.5 mL/kg in horses and 93.2 +/- 33.74 mL/kg in donkeys. All values, except VD(SS), were significantly different between donkeys and horses.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: The small VD(SS) of meloxicam in horses and donkeys (attributed to high protein binding) was similar to values determined for other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Compared with other species, horses had a much shorter MRT and greater CL(T) for meloxicam, indicating a rapid elimination of the drug from plasma; the even shorter MRT and greater CL(T) of meloxicam in donkeys, compared with horses, may make the use of the drug in this species impractical.

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Expression of PGP 9.5 by Enteric Neurons in Horses and Donkeys with and without Intestinal Disease

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Neil Hudson, G.T. Pearson, I.G. Mayhew, Christopher Proudman, Faith A. Burden, Constance Fintl. November 2013. Expression of PGP 9.5 by Enteric Neurons in Horses and Donkeys with and without Intestinal Disease. Journal of Comparative Pathology.

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Publication date: 
26 November 2013
DOI number: 
doi.org/10.1016/j.jcpa.2013.11.203
Abstract

Intestinal motility disorders are an important problem in horses and donkeys and this study was carried out in order to evaluate the enteric neurons in animals with and without intestinal disease. Surplus intestinal tissue samples were collected from 28 horses undergoing exploratory laparotomy for colic. In addition, surplus intestinal samples from 17 control horses were collected immediately following humane destruction for clinical conditions not relating to the intestinal tract. Similar samples were also collected during routine post-mortem examinations from 12 aged donkeys; six animals were humanely destroyed for conditions related to the intestinal tract, while the remaining six were humanely destroyed for other reasons including dental and orthopaedic diseases. Tissue samples were fixed in formalin and immunohistochemical labelling was performed targeting the enteric neurons using a polyclonal antibody specific for the neuronal marker PGP 9.5. The distribution and density of neuronal networks were assessed qualitatively and semiquantitatively. There was strong PGP 9.5 expression in both the horse and donkey samples and labelling was detected throughout the tissue sections. In both species, PGP 9.5-immunoreactive nerve fibres were detected in all layers of the intestinal tract, both in large and small intestinal samples. Networks of enteric neurons were present in the donkey with a similar distribution to that seen in the horse. There was no demonstrable difference in enteric neuronal density and distribution in the groups of animals with intestinal disease compared with those without, apart from two (out of 28) horses with intestinal disease that showed a marked reduction in PGP 9.5 immunoreactivity. Apart from these two animals, this total cohort analysis differs from some previously observed findings in horses with intestinal disease and may therefore reflect the different pathophysiological processes occurring in varying intestinal conditions resulting in colic both in the donkey and the horse.

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Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task

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Britta Osthaus, Leanne Proops, Ian Hocking, Faith A. Burden. December 2012. Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task. Animal Cognition.

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Publication date: 
28 December 2012
Journal: 
Animal Cognition
DOI number: 
DOI 10.1007/s10071-012-0589-4
Abstract

We investigated perseveration and detour behaviour in 36 equids (Equus caballus, E. asinus, E. caballus x E. asinus) and compared these data to those of a previous study on domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). The animals were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials). We recorded initial deviations from the correct solution
path and the latency to crossing the barrier. In the A trials, mules crossed the barrier significantly faster than their parental species, the horses and donkeys. In the B trials, following the change of gap location, all species showed a reduction in performance. Both dogs and horses exhibited significant spatial perseveration, going initially to the previous gap location. Donkeys and mules, however, performed at chance level. Our results suggest that hybrid vigour in mules extends to spatial abilities.

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Mind the gap: Spatial perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple detour task

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Britta Osthaus, Faith A. Burden, Ian Hocking, Leanne Proops. Mind the gap: Spatial perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple detour task. Presented at ASAB Interdisciplinary Workshop 2012: Physical Cognition and Problem Solving. (27 June - 28 June 2012). Birmingham, UK.

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Date presented: 
Thursday 28 June 2012
Abstract

We compared spatial problem solving abilities in the mule (Equus asinus x Equus caballus) with that of its parent species to assess the effects of hybridization on cognition. In a detour task the animals(N=48) were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials) and deviations from the straight line and the latency to crossing the barrier were recorded. Mules performed significantly above chance level on their first detour, unlike the other two species. We discuss our results with reference to hybrid vigour and to the flexibility of problem solving strategies with regards to species differences.

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