Hello all, so here’s my very long story. 
I have an 8 year old large standard rescue donkey  That I’ve had since he was 8 months old.

 I have been Battling with quite a few metabolic issues. Last year we had some problems with obesity and a cresty neck and we would have abscess after abscess so my vet recommended we test him for Cushing’s, and some resistance, and thyroid condition. It came back that he had a very hypo active thyroid And was placed on one scoop of Thyro-L a day. He was borderline cushings at this time. 

My donkey  also began experiencing some mild cases of laminitis. So he was put in remission and heiro (the heiro is hard to get him to eat, he hates it)

Buckley my donkey acts as a seeing eye animal For my 40-year-old pony that is blind. The two of them are kept in a very large 24x 24 stall that opens up Into a small dry lot. Unfortunately the lot is often muddy and it is Rocky but we have done our best to improve the condition of their pasture. 

They are both fed a mixture of orchard grass hay. I have contacted A company in the hopes of getting the hay tested. (Any advice on how to soak hay would be great)

The horse being 40, gets a decent amount of neutrena safe choice senior feed and triple crown complete feed made into a mash. 

The donkey receives one handful of grain twice a day just so I have something to put his supplements and medication in.

Over the spring regardless of my donkeys restricted diet I noticed he kept gaining weight so I had his bloodwork retested. It showed that he needed to have an increased dose of his thyroid medication and that he also is now positive for Cushing’s disease so I will soon be starting him on peroglide. I am still waiting on some additional blood work results.

3 days Ago, He escaped from his pasture and was out for an unknown amount of time. During this time I’m sure he got as much fresh grass as he could. Now I’m dealing with significant laminitis in both of his front feet. I have them locked up in the stall on a ton of soft Dry shavings. The bedding is very deep. I have easy boots cloud therapy boots on his feet with foam inserts, And I am packing his soles with magic cushion because he is not one to let me hose or soak his feet.

He is receiving 1 g of Butte every 12 hours and half a gram of Bute every six hours in between the 12 hour dosages. He is not on any grass and has very limited grain, only the handful to give him his medicine as usual.

He’s laying down a lot but is willing to get up to eat, drink, urinate and defecate. He is Tender in the front feet only. 

If needed I will have x rays taken.

he had had laminitis before but luckily no rotation.
i did start the bute medication as soon as I caught him when he was loose the other day. So i am hoping the speedy treatment has helped prevent too much damage.

I fully understand that managing this donkey is going to be a lifetime commitment between medication and diet so any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. In my experience I’ve always had to rehab hard keepers, then horses with other medical issues that made it very hard for them to maintain weight, so I’m a little bit at a loss on how to keep them from gaining.

My biggest challenge is that he cannot be separated from his pony friend. The two of them are inseparable and relying on each other. I do have a tie the donkey up where the pony is eating his grain so that way the donkey cannot steal any.
I’ve learned it’s very hard to keep weight on a 40-year-old and keep weight off of an eight-year-old fat donkey all while living harmoniously in the same pasture. 

thanks all!!!

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Sherry Morse

Hi Kelsey,

You'll be getting a full welcome message shortly but it sounds like your donkey is possibly IR as well as PPID. It's good that he's already on a dry lot but the weight gain in spite of the restricted diet is a red flag for IR. In order to know that for sure we'd need to know what his actual bloodwork results are.

You can send your hay to Equi-Analytical for testing - we recommend the Trainer 603 test as that provides the information needed to balance the hay as well as check the ESC and starch levels.  (Again, there will be more on this in your welcome letter and you can read more on the page of our website).

I would suggest replacing the grain (assuming you're using either the Nutrena or TC) with rinsed/soaked/rinsed beet pulp or Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance Cubes (sold by Triple Crown as Naturals Timothy Balanced Cubes) as a carrier for his supplements so you know he's eating something that's low enough in ESC+starch for a PPID/IR equine.  It may not sound like a lot but for very sensitive animals even that handful 2x a day can be enough to make things go wrong rapidly. 

If the laminitis in related to his PPID or IR status the bute is probably not going to help him - again, there will be more on that in your welcome letter.


Thanks so much for all the info!!

i will be sure to post the exact numbers of his full blood work up as soon as they are in from my vet. I’m thinking they should be by Monday.

im going to pick him up a bag of Hay pellets like you suggest and use that to give him his supplements.  

righr now we are pretty convinced he has an abcess on top of the laminitis 
Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Sherry Morse

Hi Kelsey,

Abscessing is pretty common with laminitic equines.  They can also be so lame with an abscess that you can think it might be laminitis so just something else to consider too. 

Kirsten Rasmussen

Hi Kelsey, 

Keeping 2 animals with different needs together can certainly be a challenge.   You have to be diligent that your donkey doesn't get any of your senior's feed, ever.  That means feeding your senior on a rubber mat and sweeping up everything he drops before untying your donkey.  Same with Sherry's advice to stop all grain.  These little things can make the difference.  If there is grass or weeds in the paddock, find a way to kill the greenery (pull it up, or cover with carpet, or fry it in the sun with vinegar, etc).

I don't know if it's an option for you, but you might be able to muzzle your donkey to restrict his hay intake, as long as you can see he is able to get eat with it on.  One way to test this us to separate him for a few hours while he is hungry and weigh how much hay you set out, and how much he eats in that time frame wit the muzzle on.  He might need to practice eating with a muzzle on, so you could only have him wear it half a day at first...after a while they get very good at it.  That way your senior can have free choice hay, but donkey will be slowed down to help lose weight.

He needs to lose the extra weight.  I don't know how much a donkey should eat, but for horses that need to drop pounds we recommend 1.5% of current body weight, or 2% of ideal body weight--whichever is greater.  This should lead to a slow and safe weight loss.  If it stalls, you can add exercise or reduce the hay by 0.5 lbs at a time, but not going below 1.5% of current weight.  As soon as he is sound, regular exercise will help.  Then you can aim for 30 min fast trot/canter work 3x a week on a soft surface to reduce his insulin sensitivity.

You can stop the Heiro, it does nothing and is very expensive.  Remission may or may not be useful, but once you have done your hay testing your balancer can help you decide if you need the Mg in it.  If not, might as well save some money there too.

It sounds like he is IR based on the cresty neck and obesity, so diet control will be very important.  I highly recommend having his non-fasting insulin (+/- glucose) tested to confirm it.  Our protocol recommends diagnosis as the first step, but don't let that stop you from making dietary changes in the meantime.

My guess is that you are running in to problems now because he has matured fully and is no longer a "teenager" that can eat whatever he wants.  IR doesn't seem to cause many problems until our equines have matured, but then it can get worse as they age if they aren't managed appropriately.  The key to keeping him healthy for the rest of his life will be learning to manage his IR and PPID now.

Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
Shaku's Case History  
Shaku's Photo Album   

Cindy Q

Dear Kelsey

Welcome to the group! You have received some good advice already.

1) I see you are using cloud boots - my own experience is that they work well. I assume your Donkey is more comfortable in them than without. There is no need to lock him up in the stall and he can be given access to the joining dry lot with his boots on. If he is willing to move around freely himself, it is fine to let him and better for him probably.

2) You asked about soaking hay. I find using filling an appropriate size holed hay net with hay, and putting the whole thing into a container of water to soak works well. Soak 1 hour and drain well, when it is time to drain, you can lift the whole hay net up and hang it somewhere to drain. More hay soaking ideas can be found in our Files section here:

3) You can read about the emergency diet below in the full welcome letter but hay soaking and Sherry's advice on using Rinse Soak Rinse or the "Balance Cubes" is part of that.

4) You mentioned your donkey is positive for cushings and you will start pergolide soon. You can read our Pergolide 101 article in the files found here:
Take note that we usually advise to start on a small dose and gradually work your way up to your targeted full dose. Also read this post by Lavinia and she mentions together with other tips on handling and storing the medicine "

The Prascend is designed to be split into halves but not quarters so your vet is correct that splitting the pills into 1/4's isn't advised. To do ,25mg doses, take 1/2 of a pill, dissolve it in 6-10ml of water in a small syringe. Shake well then administer 1/2 the contents of the syringe. Refrigerate the rest for the following day."

5) (Although not the focus here) For the 40 year old blind pony, the RSR beet and soaked cubes would not be a bad choice to mix with his Triple Crown, instead of Nutrena. Nutrena products I recall all seem to be high ESC + starch.

Here's the full welcome letter and please take the time to go through it. Let us know if you have questions, I know it's a lot of information you are getting so step by step!

The ECIR Group provides the best, most up to date information on Cushing's (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). Please explore our website where you'll find tons of great information that will help you to quickly understand the main things you need to know to start helping your horse. Also open any of the links below (in blue font) for more information/instructions that will save you time.

Have you started your Case History? If you haven't done so yet, please join our case history sub-group. We appreciate you following the uploading instructions so your folder is properly set up with the documents inside. Go to this CH message with info on how to use various devices and forms. If you have any trouble, just post a message to let us know where you are stuck.

Orienting information, such as how the different ECIR sections relate to each other, message etiquettewhat goes where and many how-to pages are in the Wiki. There is also an FAQs on our website that will help answer the most common and important questions new members have. 

Below is a general summary of our DDT/E philosophy which is short for Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise.


DIAGNOSIS: There are two conditions dealt with here: Cushings (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). These are two separate issues that share some overlapping symptoms. An equine may be either PPID or IR, neither or both. While increasing age is the greatest risk factor for developing PPID, IR can appear at any age and may have a genetic component. Blood work is used for diagnosis as well as monitoring the level of control of each.

PPID is diagnosed using the Endogenous ACTH test, while IR is diagnosed by testing non-fasting insulin, glucose and Leptin. Leptin is the hormone that says "stop eating". Knowing this helps to differentiate if a horse is IR "at baseline" or if an elevated ACTH is "driving" the insulin up. In Europe, substitute adiponectin for the leptin test.

*Before calling your vet to draw blood for tests, we suggest saving time and wasted money by reading these details and then sharing them with your vet so that everyone is on the same page regarding correct testing and protocols.

*Please remember to request copies of the results of all the tests done rather than just relying on verbal information. Your vet should be able to email these to you. If you have previous test results, please include those as well. All should go in your CH, but if you are having any trouble with the CH, just post in the messages for now. 

Treatment: IR is a metabolic type - not a disease - that is managed with a low sugar+starch diet and exercise (as able). The super-efficient easy keeper type breeds such as minis, ponies, Morgans, Arabs, Rockies are some of the classic examples. PPID is a progressive disease that is treated with the medication pergolide. Some, but not all, individuals may experience a temporary loss of appetite, lethargy and/or depression when first starting the medication. To avoid this "pergolide veil" (scroll down for side effects), we recommend weaning onto the drug slowly and the use of the product APF. The best long term results are seen when the ACTH is maintained in the middle of the normal range at all times, including during the annual seasonal rise. To accomplish this, the amount of medication may need to increase over time. Neither condition is ever "cured", only properly controlled for the remainder of the equine's life. If your partner is both PPID and IR then both medication and diet management will be needed. 

DIET: Almost all commercial feeds are not suitable - no matter what it says on the bag. Please see the International Safe Feeds List for the safest suggestions.

No hay is "safe" until proven so by chemical analysis. The diet that works for IR is:

  • low carb (less than 10% sugar+starch)
  • low fat (4% or less) 
  • mineral balanced  

We use grass hay, tested to be under 10% ESC + starch, with minerals added to balance the excesses and deficiencies in the hay, plus salt, and to replace the fragile ingredients that are lost when grass is cured into hay, we add ground flax seed and Vitamin E. This diet is crucial for an IR horse, but also supports the delicate immune system of a PPID horse. 

*Until you can get your hay tested and balanced we recommend that you soak your hay and use the emergency diet (scroll down for it).  The emergency diet is not intended for long term use, but addresses some of the most common major deficiencies. Testing your hay and getting the minerals balanced to its excesses and deficiencies is the best way to feed any equine. If you absolutely cannot test your hay and balance the minerals to it, or would like to use a "stop gap" product until you get your hay balanced, here's a list of "acceptable" ration balancers

There is a lot of helpful information in the start here folder so it is important you read all the documents found there. The emergency diet involves soaking your untested hay for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water. This removes up to 30% of the sugar content, but no starch. Starch is worse than sugar since it converts 100% to glucose while sugar only converts 50%, so starch causes a bigger insulin spike. Make sure you dump the soaking water where the equine(s) can't get to it. 

What you don't feed on the IR diet is every bit as, if not more important than, what you do feed! No grass. No grain. No sugary treats, including apples and carrots. No brown/red salt blocks which contain iron (and sometimes molasses) which interferes with mineral balancing, so white salt blocks only. 

No products containing molasses. No bagged feeds with a combined sugar and starch of over 10% or starch over about 4%, or fat over about 4%. Unfortunately, even bagged feeds that say they are designed for IR and/or PPID equines are usually too high in sugar, starch and/or fat. It’s really important to know the actual analysis and not be fooled by a name that says it is suitable for IR/PPID individuals.

We do not recommend feeding alfalfa hay to IR/PPID equines as it makes many of them laminitic. Although it tends to be low in sugar, many times the starch is higher and does not soak out. Additionally, protein and calcium are quite high, which can contribute to sore footedness and make mineral balancing very difficult.

TRIM: A proper trim is toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof capsule closely hugs and supports the internal structures of the foot. Though important for all equines, it's essential for IR and/or PPID equines to have a proper trim in place since they are at increased risk for laminitis. After any potential triggers are removed from the diet, and in PPID individuals, the ACTH is under control, the realigning trim is often the missing link in getting a laminitic equine comfortable. In general, laminitic hooves require more frequent trim adjustments to maintain the proper alignment so we recommend the use of padded boots rather than fixed appliances (i.e. shoes, clogs), at least during the initial phases of treatment.

Sometimes subclinical laminitis can be misdiagnosed as arthritis, navicular, or a host of other problems as the animal attempts to compensate for sore feet. 

You are encouraged to make an album and post hoof pictures and any radiographs you might have so we can to look to see if you have an optimal trim in place. Read this section of the wiki for how to get a hoof evaluation, what photos are needed, and how to get the best hoof shots and radiographs.

EXERCISEThe best IR buster there is, but only if the equine is comfortable and non-laminitic. An individual that has had laminitis needs 6-9 months of correct realigning trims before any serious exercise can begin. Once the equine is moving around comfortably at liberty, hand walking can begin in long straight lines with no tight turns. Do not force a laminitic individual to move, or allow its other companions to do so. It will begin to move once the pain begins to subside. Resting its fragile feet is needed for healing to take place so if the animal wants to lay down, do not encourage it to get up. Place feed and water where it can be reached easily without having to move any more than necessary. Be extremely careful about movement while using NSAIDs (bute, banamine, previcox, etc.) as it masks pain and encourages more movement than these fragile feet are actually able to withstand. Additionally, NSAIDs (and icing) do not work on metabolic laminitis and long term NSAID use interferes with healing. Therefore, we recommend tapering off NSAIDs after the first week or so of use. If after a week's time your equine's comfort level has not increased, then the cause of the laminitis has not been removed and keeping up the NSAIDs isn't the answer - you need to address the underlying cause.


There is lots more information in our files and archived messages and also on our website. It is a lot of information, so take some time to go over it and feel free to ask any questions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don't worry, you will catch on, and we are always here to help you! Once you have your case history uploaded, we can help you help your equine partner even better.

For members outside North America, there are country specific folders in the files and many international lists in the wiki to help you find local resources.

If you have any technical difficulties, please let us know so we can help you.

Cindy and Glow - Sep 2017, Singapore
ECIR Primary Response


-- update!!!!!
he was not good tonight!!
runnjnh a fever of 102.6 and was laying down grinding his teeth.
heart rate and respiratory rate was elevated, blood sugar was 116. 

was much improved after Banamine was given, he got up and ate hay for about an hour: he’s eating drinking peeing and pooping normally. Vet will be our tomorrow to see if there’s an infection going on and to do some imaging of his feet.

also we will be discussing the results of all the blood work. 

anyone ever dealt with fever and laminitis!?!
im son worried about my poor donkey ! 

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020


Cindy, thank you so much for all the info!!

my donkey was able to maintain a normal temp with the Banamine. 

1800 fever of 102.6
1900 fever 101.9
2400 99.3
0400 98.7

he is still off quite a bit in the front feet but better than yesterday (he’s also was on Banamine and previous was only on bute)
the cloud boots definitely help. 

the strange thing is there is no digital pulse and no heat in the feet. I even have a temp gun, his feet are the same temp as his old pony friend. 
perhaps the heat an elevated pulse stage of laminitis has passed?
but to be honesty I never really felt a lot of heat or a pulse. I’m an EMT so I’m use to being able to find a pulse lol. 

i did some research on Nutrena, I was mislead thinking it was the best choice for my pony, being that its names “safe choice” but I see the NSC is quite high!
inwill just be sticking with the triple crown senior and triple crown complete.

is the soaked beet pulp better to give the donkey to give meds and supplements rather than the triple crown senior handful?

They hay net to soak the hay is a great idea!
can the hay be fed wet or damp or does it have to be totally dry?

The vet is coming out this afternoon.
i assume we will do imaging on his feet, test for potamic since we had fever with laminitis, but I’m sure this is more of a metabolic issue.
so he may even want to test that again. I’ll make sure to get a game plan for getting him off the nsaids.
i have been giving probiotics and surcralfate to help protect his GI system, but I know they are so hard on his liver and kidneys too. I actually lost a mini to bute toxicity years ago. So I would definitely like like off as soon as possible

i fully believe that in top of cushings and hypothyroidism, he is insulin resistant. it just makes total sense. I will work on getting him outside in his dry lot with his boots today.

i can’t thank you enough for all the information!
 Im praying I can get him through this and get him on the right track with medications and diet.

not sure if I mentioned but my pony who has cushings is completely non symptomatic. But he can also benefit from the changes I’m doing for the donkey.
for a 40 year old the vet just rated him a 5 on the weigh chart, and the donkey a 7. So the donkey is quite obese! 

As soon as I am home to my computer, I will work on his case study.

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Sherry Morse

Hi Kelsey,

All of those feeds, and most commercial feeds, are higher in ESC+starch than the 10% we recommend which is why we suggest using ODTBC or beet pulp as a carrier.

We have had members do independent testing of Nutrena and TC feeds and you can find those results in our files.  You can find one of the more recent tests for the TC Senior here:  You can see the results on one of the older tests (which also includes levels for TC Complete) here:

Triple Crown Complete is also not safe for an IR equine and has even higher levels of ESC+starch than the senior - again you can reference that file I just mentioned, as well as this slightly older list:

You may also want to test for Ehrlichia as that may also cause a fever with apparent laminitis.  If he's in acute pain that can throw off the insulin and ACTH readings so just something to keep in mind about trying to do bloodwork at this point.

Kirsten Rasmussen

Rinsed-soaked-rinsed beet pulp is an excellent carrier for supplements.  And soaked hay can be fed soaked, its a great way to fill their stomach up since the water adds weight and density to their meal.  Plus then you know they are getting lots of water (you might find he drinks less).  After dumping out the water, rinse the hay in nets with a hose until the water runs clear through it then let it drain for 15+ min so it's easier to handle.  I soak 24 hrs worth of hay once a day in several hay nets.  If you have very hot and humid conditions you might want to set it in the shade, a cool barn, or in an insulated cooler to keep it fresher if you don't feed it within a few hours.  In my temperate climate it is just fine sitting outside in the shade on a wood pallet or metal grill.

Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
Shaku's Case History  
Shaku's Photo Album   


Thanks to all for the responses!

The only feeds do I have anywhere in my location is tractor supply which sells Purina, Nutrena safe choice, and triple crown senior and complete and lite.
 There is another store 40 mins away that also sells tribute.  I believe they have some other brands, so if anyone has a specific grain that’s recommended, I can try to see if this place can order it for me.

luckiky tractor always seems to have beet pulp shreds. So that’s what I will use for the donkey from now on.

He’s managed to keep his fever down, the last Banamine he has was 11 pm last night.
he mostly seems uncomfortable on the left front which is the hoof we think may have an abscess (very sensitive heel bulb)

the vet should be out sometime this afternoon.

the donkey is luckily able to stand up and eat hay for 30 mins before having to lay back down.

yesterday he couldn’t stand up for even 30 seconds.

i have a call out to a company recommended here to test my hay. When that comes back it shouls
provide me with some good information.

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020


Hi sherry,
forgive my lack of Acronym knowledge but what is ODBTC?

and here I thought triple crown complete would be good for my old guy with no teeth! When I grabbed it the other day I didn’t see an NSC rating but I should of googled it first. It’s 20%!
i never opened the bag and haven’t started anyone on it yet so I’m going to see if I can return it.

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Sherry Morse

Hi Kelsey,

Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance Cubes which are sold by Triple Crown as "Naturals Timothy Balance Cubes".  Your local Tractor Supply should be able to get them for you or you can call TC and ask them about a dealer and/or shipping to TSC - 1-800-451-9916


I have an update everyone! 

Vet believes we’re have a laminitic event which causes bilateral front abscesses (donk has a history of this).

the front left blew, now we are working on the front right, but he’s getting around a lot better!

i did pick up some standlee beet pulp shreds.
whats the best way/ amount to feed him.

hes a large standard, 13 hands. He’s 700ish lbs. But very obese.
thank you to those who recommended a little beet pulp to give him his medications, rather than the senior feet. Which has a 10% fat. Meanwhile the beet pulp is a 2.5.

what are the best treats to feed a fat IR cushings donk? He eats celery but he pouts lol.

This  we start presend And an increase in thyroid meds. So hopefully that all starts to help soon.

I will be sure to get his case study complete as soon as I have the blood work numbers from the vet.

thanks everyone!!!

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020