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Not small horses: improving treatments for donkeys
  1. J. M. Senior, BVSc, PhD, CertVA, ECVAA, MRCVS
  1. Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital, Leahurst Campus, University of Liverpool, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE
  1. E-mail: j.m.senior{at}

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THERE are around 40 million donkeys in the world (FAO 2007) and more than 95 per cent of those are used for work, mainly as a means of transporting people or goods (Starkey and Starkey 1996). Apart from human labour, donkeys are the cheapest form of power (Pearson and others 1999) and have an important influence on the socioeconomic wellbeing of people in many developing countries. However, within such countries, donkeys often have a low status and can suffer from poor husbandry and treatment (Pearson and others 1999, Stringer and others 2011, Thiemann 2013). For example, one study in Ethiopia showed that back sores and wounds, often from poorly fitting tacks or excessive work, were the most common health problem in donkeys (Tesfaye and Curran 2005). There are multiple and complex reasons why donkeys may not receive optimal husbandry and veterinary care in developing countries, including cultural beliefs, lack of opportunity and poor education. From the veterinary treatment perspective, it would be desirable to have drugs, such as analgesics, available that we know to be effective in treating common health problems in donkeys.

Before administering a therapeutic drug to an animal, we need to know that it will achieve …

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