Do donkeys and horses react to pain in the same way? Although both are equids the answer is no. "It is recognized that donkeys' response to pain is different from horses and the behavioral traits they display can be more subtle, so it can be challenging to identify when they are in pain," said Melissa Upjohn, research coordinator for the Brooke. "We're delighted that it's been possible to generate evidence about the way they behave in response to pain, most importantly, because when we're working with donkeys and training owners and community health service providers, we can more accurately recognize how donkeys act when they're ill or injured."

A new study, "Identifying behavioural differences in working donkeys in response to analgesic administration ," will appear in an issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal and is available to view online. Many donkeys around the world live in poor conditions with little or no veterinary help. It is estimated that there are more than 40 million donkeys that work in these harsh conditions every day.

It is noted that some of the indications that donkeys are in pain are "closing their eyes for lengthy periods, doxing on their feet, and lowering their heads."

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First posted: Jan 7, 2015
Last update: Jan 21, 2020