Reason for study
Donkey dental disorders are being recognised with increased frequency worldwide and have important welfare implications; however, no detailed investigations of dental disorders in donkeys appear to have been published.
To determine the prevalence of specified dental disorders in donkeys by performing a prospective post mortem study on donkeys that were subjected to euthanasia or died for other reasons at The Donkey Sanctuary, UK.
Post mortem examinations were performed on 349 donkeys over an 18 month period, 2005-2006. The presence and extent of specified dental disorders were recorded and these data analysed to determine their prevalence and common locations.
A high prevalence (93%) of disorders was noted in the population with a median age of 31 years. In particular, cheek teeth diastemata (85% prevalence) were very common, often associated with advanced periodontal disease. Other disorders observed included missing teeth (in 55.6% of donkeys), displaced teeth (43%), worn teeth (34%), local overgrowths (15%), focal sharp overgrowths (3%) and dental-related soft tissue injuries (8%).
Conclusions and potential relevance
Aged donkeys have a high prevalence of significant dental disease, especially cheek teeth diastemata. These findings highlight the importance of routine dental examinations and prophylactic dental treatments to improve the dental health and welfare of donkeys.