Finding the right donkey vet

The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth recently posted this photo of a lovely young lady called Amelia, who posed in the sanctuary’s educational display area, the Understanding Donkeys Barn.  Dressed as an equine vet, Amelia summed up the simple image I already had about how the ambition to become a vet begins, with a desire to make contact with the animals and simply be their friend.  To keep them healthy.  What a noble ambition.

Amelia 2

Maybe it was because I have spent most of my life without having any animals that I didn’t really give enough attention to the question of choosing a good donkey vet, but just went along with the first one that came along.  A vet is just a vet.  On the other hand, when we all end up stuck with an appalling doctor in the Finestrat clinic, and we cannot change to another clinic, we soon start appreciating the difference between one professional standard and another!  (Luckily since my move I can change to the Orxeta clinic now: I need to register there and Aitana’s experience has motivated me to give this more priority before maybe I too get the wrong treatment and my health is put in danger!)

When Cecilio at the Refugio del Burrito put me in touch with a reliable vet some distance south, Dorothea, it appeared she was well out of the locality, which was a bit disappointing, but she provided sound advice at a distance and analysed Aitana’s blood sample for me, in the absence of my usual vet X who had gone on holiday.

Then Dorothea surprised me yesterday by saying she could fit in a visit here to see Aitana in her schedule of visits in this area today.  From the start I was really amazed at the difference in her approach to the situation. It was all focused on very close observation and gleaning facts about Aitana’s past.  Walking Aitana down the slope to level 2 we could see she had difficulty and up the slope was easier.  Dorothea moved straight to technological mode and set up x-ray equipment in the stable, with wooden blocks for Aitana to stand on.  Aitana was very good: I can’t imagine what a circus we would get with Matilde, Rubí or Morris!

Aitana in the stable with the x-ray equipment
When I installed a power socket in the stable last year, I didn’t envisage it being a handy place for doing x-rays of hooves, but it was a very useful location to plug in the equipment.


Within minutes, Aitana had returned to her evening feed and we were looking at the x-rays on screen.  For those who know what the x-rays show, forgive me for the rudimentary explanation here, but basically we are looking at chronic laminitis (probably at least six months or more in development) and the pedal bone has rotated so no longer parallel with the hoof wall. Dorothea also pointed out that after the farrier’s cut last week the toe of the pedal bone is closer to the ground than is ideal so we need a bit more growth before the next cut is done in 2 or 3 weeks.

The wonders of technology mean that the x-rays were sent directly to Jacobo the farrier via Whatsapp, and without any comment from me, he said exactly the same as Dorothea as he commented on the images.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that this vet and farrier know each other well, which is marvellous.  Don’t worry burra Aitana: we have a team in place.

The weight loss problem now seems to be behind us, but the laminitis episode is ongoing and now very clear to see.  It is treatable but will require management and a physio programme. Needless to say, Dorothea was also keen to discuss diet, and we had a good look at my feed arrangements.  There was nothing particularly wonky about the donkey diet, but it will be much stricter now.  Some donkeys are more susceptible to laminitis than others, and now we have a case, food arrangements will need scientific regulation.  Portion control too…  🙄

So, finally, let’s go back to the Donkey Sanctuary’s photo of Amelia the would-be donkey vet.  Amelia, please be like Dorothea!  And one more thing, Amelia: it won’t be just about nice cuddly animals.  Statistics show girls are now getting much better than boys at using ICT effectively, and you’ll need that very much.  My donkey stable went hi-tech today…

How do we find a good vet?  Maybe sometimes they just find you.

4 thoughts on “Finding the right donkey vet

  1. All help now in place. Dorothea the equine vet and Jacobo the farrier had a conversation this morning and have agreed a regime of four-weekly hoof trim, and a programme of exercise I will start with Aitana after next trim, when she is more comfortable.

    Aitana is a very good patient. She is a compliant donk, unlike the other three! The only one of my donkeys who lifts her front feet for inspection if I just say, “Give me foot.” Every time. ☺


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