Just as it is important to deworm a horse on a rotating schedule, so is it important to do so for a donkey. Donkeys, based on weight, will have generally lower dosages of dewormer. Deworming every other month on a rotating schedule ensures that you are hitting the potential parasites in the stage of growth most easily eradicated. Donkeys can get parasitic worms/bots etc. from eating off of pasture where there are eggs, and also from eating hay off of the ground near the fecal matter of donkeys already infested. Clearing manure is the best way to avoid wormy donkeys, but it is very important to deworm on a regular schedule set by your vet based on your area and what is likely to occur.
Although it takes a bit more planning on the owners part, most veterinarians can take freshly collected samples of manure from individual animals and look at it under the microscope in what is called a Fecal Exam. Instead of deworming blindly on a rotating basis, you as the owner can then see which animals are “high shedders” of certain parasites and actually need the deworming vs. simply deworming everyone indiscriminately. By doing so, you prevent unnecessary resistance of the parasites to the dewormers. Resistance is becoming an ever increasing issue. So fecals are recommended before deworming every other month. Most owners who rely on fecals know which animals are at most risk and end up deworming much less often.
Here at Wise Ass Acres, we deworm on a rotational schedule with fecal exams to make sure we are deworming whom we need. Because everyone was out on irrigated pasture several days a week, it was important to get everyone dewormed this winter. Darlin, however, seems to have a delicate digestive tract and needs daily dewormer to help keep her gut clear of parasites that irritate the lining and cause runny manure. Horses and donkeys on daily dewormer don’t get the same rotational dewormer as the others. It is important to state that daily dewormer is not a permanent solution as it can also cause resistance. As of right now, it seems to have helped her GI tract get less irritated. In December, however, Darlin also gets Zimectrin Gold.
Deworming donkeys can be a stressful event, as getting something sticky and icky down into a donkey’s mouth can be difficult depending on the donkey! Ours all get a treat beforehand, then dewormer, then a treat right after. It is important that they associate deworming with a pleasant experience each time. It is also important to watch your donkeys after they have been dewormed in case they decide to hold it in their mouth then spit out the paste!
A donkey with a high parasite load (if you have recently acquired a donkey from questionable circumstances especially) must be dewormed judiciously as clearing the parasite load quickly can cause GI blockages and impaction colic, which is not only painful, but sometimes fatal.
Check with your local veterinarian before deciding on a rotational deworming schedule for the year. They are your best resource for your area.