Donkeys are naturally well adapted to mountainous, semi-arid environments where they evolved to graze and browse on sparse, poor nutritional quality plant material while travelling many kilometres a day. In contrast, most domesticated donkeys rarely have the opportunity to exhibit the same natural behaviours and owners often struggle to replicate the natural, fibre rich diet that donkeys are best adapted to. This can be especially difficult under temperate conditions where food is often abundant and of high quality and trying to satisfy a donkey’s natural appetite without them becoming obese can often be a challenge. Correct dietary management of donkeys is essential to their health and wellbeing so an understanding of their unique needs and how they differ from those of horses and ponies is essential.
This becomes especially challenging where dental disorders are present, and particularly as pain and inappetance are not easily recognised in the donkey.