Ways of scoring a donkey’s ‘body condition’ for general health have been devised, but as yet there is no general agreement as to the applicability of such a score. Those who know donkeys can usually judge quite easily one which is in good condition, i.e. with coat shining, ears and eyes alert, movement easy, ribs and hip bones adequately covered with flesh, and no wounds.
There is another score for ‘wound and foot care’, but on the whole it does not offer more than good observation and common sense can provide.
What are the signs of a donkey being unwell ?
Among the signs of health trouble in a donkey are the following:
· Fever (body sweat; muzzle hot and dry)
· Loss of appetite
· Drooping ears and maybe also a drooping head
· Coat rough and dull looking
· Dull eyes
· Lack of energy and response
· Frequently lying down
· Liquid droppings (diarrhea, known as ‘scouring’)
· Passing no droppings (constipation)
· Wrong colours of droppings (i.e. signs of blood, although colour does vary a lot according to diet).
Donkeys on the whole do not show their feelings of pain in very obvious ways, but behave as a human would who is called ‘stoical’, i.e. tolerating pain without complaint. They may make an initial violent movement of avoidance, but after that they become silent and as nearly as possible immobile in the face of pain and/or fear. Therefore it is sometimes difficult to know when they are suffering acutely, and their behavior may look like ‘stubbornness’ rather than stoicism. One indicator of pain or fear can be diarrhea, just as in humans. Since this may also dehydrate the donkey, it will be adding to its problems if it persists.
GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged!