Many people wrongly assume that the donkey’s normal behaviours are less expressive than those seen in horses and ponies and do not appreciate that a healthy donkey should not appear dull. The donkey will still suffer from pain but the survival strategy of this prey species is to mask the obvious signs of pain. Subtle changes in a donkey’s behaviour may indicate severe pain and serious disease. Dull companion or pet donkeys are most likely to be suffering from impaction colic, pain and/or hyperlipaemia. Dull or apathetic working donkeys may be suffering from multiple problems, including exhaustion.
Therefore, any donkey exhibiting subtle changes in normal behaviour and appetite, or with a dull demeanour, should be examined thoroughly and urgently to detect the underlying cause(s).