White mule suffering from arthritis standing next to its owner

No rest in sight

Every day, thousands of working animals endure the unbearable pain of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease for humans and animals alike – but it is particularly prevalent in working animals.

The repetitive nature of their work, which often involves carrying heavy loads for long hours on rough terrain, can cause massive strain on their joints and lead to the early onset of the disease. Sadly, once arthritis has developed, there is no cure.

But with your support, we can provide early diagnosis, treatment and careful management of the condition. We can also educate owners to help prevent or slow its advance, and ease the pain that working animals face.

Please, if you can, send a kind gift today to help older animals receive the veterinary care and support they need to get relief from debilitating arthritis.

Skinny white horse standing in a stable attached to an IV drip.
Shada the mule at the SPANA centre in Marrakech, Morocco

Cheikh’s story

Cheikh works tirelessly for his owner, Mahmoud, transporting construction materials around Douboungué, a region of Mauritania.

Every day, the six-year-old horse hauls a heavy cart in intense 40°C heat. Once his cart is emptied, Cheikh goes back to get another cartload.

Without the faithful carthorse’s help, Mahmoud would have no way of making an income and supporting his family. Life is extremely tough for both Cheikh and Mahmoud.

Mahmoud became worried when he noticed his horse was having trouble walking more than even a few steps at a time and showed significant discomfort when pulling his cart. After finding a wound on Cheikh’s right front limb, the concerned owner went to SPANA for help.

Once there, our expert vets gave Cheikh a full physical examination, first checking the leg wound and then feeling his joints for any abnormalities. As one of the vets gently examined Cheikh’s legs and flexed the fetlock joints, the horse visibly flinched and tried to pull his front right leg away in discomfort. The affected joint was swollen and tender, so our vets first gave Cheikh an anti-inflammatory injection to relieve the soreness and reduce the inflammation. They then treated the wound on his right front leg by gently removing the dead tissue and cleaning the area with antiseptic solution to prevent infection. The vet team took an X-ray of Cheikh’s legs to find the root of the problem. They also asked his owner about Cheikh’s medical history. Mahmoud recalled that there had been times prior to the injury when his horse was listless and reluctant to work. After reviewing the X-ray results and the horse’s medical history, the team diagnosed Cheikh with arthritis.

On the days that Cheikh was slow and lethargic, his owner was unaware that he was suffering from an unbearable flare-up of arthritis. With no rest, his joints became tender, hot and inflamed, and he risked severe lameness. Thankfully, the X-ray showed that Cheikh’s arthritis was still in the early stages. This meant that, with the right management, Cheikh could lead a comfortable life and the disease could be slowed down. Before Cheikh was discharged, the vets prescribed a course of antiinflammatories to ease his discomfort. Mahmoud was advised to let Cheikh rest for two weeks before gradually reintroducing him back to work, with reduced hours and a decreased load. The team also stressed the importance of good farriery and adequate equipment so as not to overwhelm Cheikh’s joints.

Mahmoud listened carefully to the vets’ advice and promised to introduce more breaks during Cheikh’s work and reduce his workload. He said: ‘Thank you, SPANA, for helping Cheikh. The vets always give our animals the best treatment possible.’

Please, if you can, send a kind gift today to help older animals receive the veterinary care and support they need.

Thank you very much for your support.

To speak to our friendly supporter care team please visit our contact us page and get in touch.