When Siog arrived about 2 months ago, I was unable to find out about her de-worming history ... in other words "when was she last de-wormed?" Simple question ... no answer! So ... what to do? If you think you have a donkey (or horse) who might have a high parasite load, and you dose them with something strong, you could have trouble on your hands! Because if a lot of intestinal parasites die off at the same time, the animal could colic ... plain and simple.
I always hold my breath whenever I administer a chemical dewormer. So I gave Siog a single dose of the "safest" dewormer (the one with the highest safety margin) Panacur. A month later I took a sample of her poop to the vet for a fecal "float." This is where they put the poop under a microscope and assess the number of parasitic eggs or larva present. In Siog's case, the assessment was that she had an infestation of roundworms and strongyles.
I was alarmed ... clearly I needed to act fast - an infestation is dangerous - the "worms" can cause significant and irreparable damage to the intestinal wall and if left untreated can shorten the donkey's life! Gosh - that's scary!
So the decision I made (later confirmed by my vet) was to dose all three donkeys with a 5 day treatment of Panacur granules at 2x body weight. To order this, I needed to have an accurate assessment of each animal's body weight. I measured heart girth, then height at the withers.
To do this properly, stand the donkey on a flat surface, hold a level at the withers and a stick vertically from the ground to the withers until the bubble in the level is centered. This is a 2-person job!
Here is the nomogram from the Donkey Sanctuary in Britain. It is easy to connect the heart girth measure to the height measure to estimate your donkey's weight.
Once you know the donkey's weight, you can order Panacur crystals at 2x body weight per animal and enough for five days. This is one of the only ways to eliminate encysted strongyles, which burrow and create sacs in the intestinal wall, waiting to hatch when the time is right. These encysted strongyles do not show up in a fecal float, so it is important to treat for this once a year.
Also, this five day protocol is a safe and effective way to treat an infestation.
I have dosed all three donkeys now for the prescribed five days - nobody coliced so we're in good shape. Now I am giving probiotics to help increase the health of intestinal flora after the chemical deworming. I'll give 1/8th teaspoon for two weeks. Then I will take a sample of poop to the vet to see how things are!