A limping donkey gets a helping hand

A SPANA Ethiopia vet treats a donkey for lameness during a mobile clinic

A limping donkey gets a helping hand

Salana the donkey was lame and struggling to take even a few steps. Read how SPANA vet in Ethiopia, Hanna Zewdu, intervened to relieve his pain and get him back on his feet.

A donkey suffering from lameness waits to be treated at a SPANA mobile clinic

Salana was struggling to walk more than even a few steps at a time and was clearly in significant discomfort when standing. The five-year-old donkey is usually healthy and full of energy, helping his owner, Kirubel, to transport grain to earn a small income. As Kirubel was unharnessing Salana at the end of the working day, he noticed the donkey lifting his hind leg in pain and limping to the water trough.

Kirubel was unsure when an injury may have occurred, but he immediately stopped Salana working for three days to give his donkey a chance to recover. Kirubel relies on Salana for his livelihood, and families in this rural community rely on the grain that he delivers. It was essential that Salana was able to make a quick recovery. However, after a few days’ rest, Salana’s lameness seemed to have worsened, and now the donkey could barely walk at all.

A SPANA Ethiopia vet treats a donkey for lameness during a mobile clinic

When Dr Hanna Zewdu, SPANA vet and Ethiopia Project Leader, arrived in the area with our mobile veterinary clinic, Salana and Kirubel were waiting to be seen. Kirubel had managed to arrange transport to take his donkey to the clinic for urgent treatment, as he could not travel otherwise.

Dr Hanna immediately examined Salana, gently checking the bottom of his feet for any stones or other objects that may have got lodged in his hooves. She noticed a large abscess on one of his hooves which was causing discomfort with every step. What’s more, Hanna felt Salana’s legs up to his joints, which felt swollen and were painful to the touch.

In addition to the wound to his hoof, Hanna suspected a musculoskeletal problem, possibly caused by improper harnessing and loading of the cart, which was putting a lot of stress on the donkey’s joints and ligaments, leading to painful joint inflammation. Thankfully, the solution is a straightforward one – Hanna administered painkillers to prevent suffering and provided Kirubel with an anti-inflammatory drug, which would need to be used for seven day to bring down swelling in the limbs. She also drained and disinfected Salana’s abscess, immediately relieving the pressure and pain and allowing the wound a chance to heal.

A SPANA Ethiopia vet treats a donkey for lameness during a mobile clinic

She instructed Kirubel that Salana would need complete rest for at least a week to make a full recovery. She also advised Kirubel about how to harness his donkey safely and how to load his cart in a way that distributes weight evenly. This would ensure pulling the cart would be easier for Salana and help prevent future injuries.

Kirubel was very relieved that his donkey had received this vital treatment and would begin her recovery. He also left the clinic with a better understanding of how to avoid the unnecessary pain and distress of lameness in the future.

Kirubel expressed his deep appreciation to Dr Hanna and the team. He said: ‘Thank you very much for the treatment given to Salana today. I’m hoping that he will be much more comfortable soon. Thank you SPANA.’

Thank you to all our supporters, who make it possible for us to provide essential care to animals like Salana across the world every day.

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