Clinical dental examinations of 357 donkeys in the UK: Part 1: prevalence of dental disorders

Dental disorders have a high prevalence in older donkeys and horses, but the nature and pathogenesis of many of these disorders have yet to be established.


The identification and determination of the prevalence of important dental disorders in different age groups in a large single population of donkeys, to establish a better understanding of the nature and pathogenesis of these disorders.


A prospective cross-sectional study was performed on the donkey population at The Donkey Sanctuary with detailed oral examinations of 357 donkeys within 7 different age groups (age range 2-53 years) recorded.


The prevalence of dental disease in all donkeys was 73%, increasing in prevalence from 28% in the youngest to 98% in the oldest age group. There was an increase in prevalence of commonly recognised dental disorders with increasing age, such as: diastemata (3.8% in youngest to 86% in oldest group); missing teeth (0-56%); overgrown teeth (15-86%); worn teeth (8-84%); displaced teeth (0-38%); and periodontal disease (0-28%).


There was a significant increase in the prevalence of dental disorders with increasing age with the largest significant increase for most dental disorders occurring in the 15-20 year age group.

Potential significance

Most dental disorders significantly increase in prevalence in the 15-20 year age group and, therefore, prophylactic geriatric dental treatment in donkeys should be commenced from age 15 years.

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