New guide puts spotlight on donkey hoof care and lameness

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Three-dimensional computed tomography scan of the carpal joint. (Radiographic and Computed Tomographic Anatomy of the Donkey Carpus)

A new resource guide to the latest peer-reviewed articles and theses on donkey hoof science and lameness studies has been made available online for free.

HoofSearch has compiled a collection of 2019-2020 peer-reviewed donkey hoof articles and theses into a freely available document.

The guide created by HoofSearch, the index of equine foot research from Hoofcare Publishing, is freely accessible online to anyone interested in monitoring advances in donkey hoof health or improving the soundness-related welfare of working donkeys. There are an estimated 44 million working and pet donkeys around the world.

Equine health professionals and caregivers, welfare charity and sanctuaries staff, and students now have a permanent, universally-accessible roadmap of peer-reviewed donkey-specific lameness research. Each listing in the index is live-linked to a matching original journal article or academic thesis.

HoofSearch publisher Fran Jurga said charities were funding research and hosting conferences to promote the sharing of new information on donkey soundness and health in the developing world.

“But this information is also needed by university animal hospital staff and private practice veterinarians, technicians, nurses, and farriers everywhere.

“Many professionals see donkeys only occasionally, but when they do, the problem is often in the feet or lower limbs, or recovery from other medical problems is complicated by hoof neglect or lameness,” Jurga said.

“We need more ‘donkey podiatrists’, as well as more resources for preventing donkey hoof problems.

The highest number of new studies documented lameness therapeutics and diagnostics, especially donkey-specific distal-limb imaging, followed by hoof diseases and laminitis, in particular. Historically, more studies have focused on anatomy and morphology of the donkey foot and distal limb than on clinical aspects of donkey lameness.

“When you see the new research listed in one place, and compare it with previous years or decades, it is encouraging to see the hoof problems of these essential and endearing equids receiving the attention and funding they deserve,” Jurga said.

The 2020 research update documents an increase in new articles about donkey hooves, and includes articles from the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands on facial pain expression in donkeys and a pathologists’ report from Texas A&M University on a case of “immersion foot syndrome” in a donkey subjected to prolonged flood-water exposure during Hurricane Harvey. Long-term follow-up of a Brazilian donkey that survived forelimb amputation is also included.

“I know that coronavirus forced the cancelation of International Donkey Week events this year,” Jurga said. “This bibliography project is one little donkey tribute that no pandemic can stop!”

The HoofSearch donkey bibliographies can be viewed and downloaded at these links:

» 2019-2020 peer-reviewed donkey hoof articles and theses
»  Complete index of online donkey hoof-related references published from 1977 to May 2020

HoofSearch, published since 2017 by Hoofcare Publishing, is an interactive monthly index of newly-published peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings, theses, and patents. Its goal is to expand awareness of research, to make it more accessible, and to bridge the gap between the academic authors who produce new findings and the private-practice equine health professionals who benefit from clinically-relevant research.

A subscription to HoofSearch is US$119, worldwide, for 12 editions.

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