Respiratory Disorders - Donkey

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The anatomy of the donkey’s respiratory system shows some subtle variation in comparison to the horse. For example, it has narrower nasal passages and trachea, a deep nasopharyngeal recess, and a more sharply angled and more pointed epiglottis. Clinically this means that more care is needed when passing a stomach tube or intubating a donkey to avoid bruising and haemorrhage.

The respiratory conditions that affect donkeys are similar to those seen in the horse, although the incidence and presentation varies. In geriatric animals there is a higher incidence of chronic, fibrosing lung disease, dental sinus empyema and neoplasia. In younger populations, infectious respiratory disease is seen more commonly .

Most donkeys are not used for athletic activities and hence disease may be more advanced when first presented. As in any condition that stresses the donkey, hyperlipaemia can complicate the recovery. Auscultation of donkeys with respiratory disease may be difficult in obese individuals, and use of a rebreathing bag is generally easier than examination after exercise. Ancillary diagnostic aids such as radiography, endoscopy and ultrasonography should be used where appropriate.

Infectious Respiratory Diseases

Conditions of the Upper Respiratory Tract

Conditions of the Lower Respiratory Tract

Chronic Respiratory Disease

Literature Search

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Respiratory diseases in donkeys publications


  • Thiemann, A. (2008) Respiratory problems In Svendsen, E.D., Duncan, J. and Hadrill, D. (2008) The Professional Handbook of the Donkey, 4th edition, Whittet Books, Chapter 7
  • Clayton, H.M., Duncan, J.L. (1981). ‘Natural infection with Dictyocaulus arnfieldi in pony and donkey foals’. Res Vet Sci, 31(3). pp 278-280.
  • Clayton, H.M., Trawford, A.F. (1981). ‘Anthelmintic control of lungworms in donkeys’. Equine Veterinary Journal 13(3). pp 192-194.
  • Durham, A. (2001). ‘Update on therapeutics for obstructive pulmonary diseases in horses’. In Practice, 23 (8). pp 474-481.
  • Ficorilli, N., Studdert, M.J., and Crabb, B.S. (1995). ‘The nucleotide sequence of asinine herpes virus 3 glycoprotein G indicates the donkey virus is closely related to equine herpes virus 1’. Archives of Virology, 140 (9). pp 1653-1662.
  • Holland, R.E., Tudor, L.R., Timoney, J.F., Anzai, T., and Chambers, T.M. (1999). ‘Equine Influenza disease in Donkeys: severe brochopneumonia due to clonal invasion by Streptococcus zooepidemicus’. Equine Infectious diseases VIII,. W. Wernery, J.F. Wade, J.A. Mumford and O.R. Kaaden (eds). R. & W. Publications, Newmarket. pp 548-549 .
  • Horserace Betting Levy Board (2004). Codes of Practice for the Control of Equid Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1) Infection.
  • Robinson, N.E., Derksen, F.J., Jackson, C.A., Peroni, D., and Gerber, V. (2001). ‘Management of Heaves’. Equine Veterinary Education, 13 (5). pp 247-259.
  • Rose, M.A., Round, M C., and Beveridge, W.I.B. (1970). ‘Influenza in horses and donkeys in Britain’. Veterinary Record, 86. pp 768-769.
  • Round, M.C. (1976). ‘Lungworm Infection – (Dictyocaulus arnfieldi) of horses and donkeys’. Veterinary Record 99. (20). pp 393-395.
  • Summerhayes, G.E.S., Mantell, J.A.R. (1995). ‘Ultrasonography as an aid to diagnosis and treatment of a retrolobular hydatid cyst in a horse’. Equine Veterinary Education, 7(1). pp 39-42.
  • Tewari, S.C., Sharma, P.C., Prasad, S., Kaura, Y.K. (1994). ‘Experimental equine herpes virus 1 infection of foetus in a pregnant donkey mare’. Indian Veterinary Journal, 71(3). pp 213-214.
  • Thiemann, A.K., Bell, N. J. (2001). ‘The Peculiarities of Donkey Respiratory Disease’, Equine Respiratory Diseases, Lekeux, P. (ed). International Veterinary Information Service, Ithaca, New York.
    • For a more in-depth view of the subject

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