The Donkey Sanctuary has warned owners to look out for signs of hyperlipaemia in pregnant jennies, a condition recognised since the late 1960s.
The Donkey Sanctuary has warned owners to look out for signs of hyperlipaemia in pregnant jennies.
Donkeys, including miniature donkeys and small pony breeds, are especially susceptible to the condition, which has been recognised since the late 1960s.
Dullness and a poor appetite can all be signs of the condition, which can be fatal without prompt treatment.
The Donkey Sanctuary states: “A number of risk factors have been identified as contributing to this condition. It is known a female donkey is at higher risk than a male, especially if it is pregnant or lactating, when there are high-energy demands.
“When the donkey stops eating enough, the essential organs still require a food supply so the body tries to use the energy that is stored as fat deposits. The result is free fatty acids are circulated to the liver to be converted to glucose for use by the body.
“This system is controlled by complex hormonal events, which should shut down the amount of fat released from fat stores as the liver produces the glucose for the body. Sadly, donkeys and small ponies are not able to efficiently turn off the fat release and the blood soon fills up with excess fat in circulation.
“This circulating fat can be measured in the blood as triglycerides by your veterinary surgeon.
Large amounts of fat cause the liver and kidneys to degenerate and fail, and eventually all the organs in the body fail. This results in irreversible damage and death follows soon after.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is happy to process blood samples at no charge and can send written guidance regarding management of hyperlipaemic donkeys, nutritional advice and foal management.
For advice visit the Donkey Sanctuary’s website or telephone 01395 578222.