The majority of dental procedures are performed under standing sedation, using appropriate sedation, analgesia and local anaesthesia. However, where access to dental equipment necessary for standing procedures is limited or unavailable, techniques requiring general anaesthesia may still be required. There will be a few situations where the donkey’s behaviour is incompatible with a standing procedure, despite sedation, and in these cases a general anaesthesia may be necessary.
Dental pathology may be only one aspect of the complete clinical picture and a thorough examination of the whole animal should be performed before committing to sedation or anaesthesia. There is a risk of missing underlying disease and/or pain due to the stoic nature of the donkey. For elective procedures, stabilisation of other issues may be necessary before embarking upon dental surgery.
Awareness of the significance of the strong bonds a donkey will form with a companion is essential, because separation can induce significant stress and a variable reaction to sedation or anaesthesia. Sedation or anaesthesia of pregnant mares or foals for dental procedures should only be undertaken for non-elective procedures and a careful assessment of the risks and benefits must be considered and discussed with the owner.