When the weather gets cold, you turn up the heat and stay inside. The same can’t be said for your mini donkey. Sure, they have their enclosure, but they’re otherwise exposed to the elements. That leaves you wondering, do mini donkeys need blankets to stay warm in the autumn and winter?
Mini donkeys do not require blankets, even in the cold weather. The only exception would be if the donkey is sick, old, or underweight. If they have a shelter with at least three sides, such as an enclosure or a barn, then the donkey should be able to fend for themselves. Mini donkeys possess an amazing sense of self-preservation, growing their coat heavier and thicker in the winter for more internal warmth.
If your mini donkey doesn’t need blankets, then what would they require for winter care? Is there ever a situation where it’s appropriate to give your donkey a blanket? Keep reading, as we’ll answer those questions and more.
Why Don’t Mini Donkeys Need Blankets in the Cold?
The main reason you’ve considered giving your mini donkey a blanket is that the coldness of winter is approaching. You’re concerned about how your donkey will fare when spending the next several months outdoors in the frigid, whipping winds and teeth-chattering temps.
As a first-time donkey owner, you might buy your miniature equine friend a rug, coat, or blanket so they don’t freeze all winter long. While this is considerate, it’s ultimately unnecessary. You see, as we said in the intro, mini donkeys know what to do to keep themselves alive and relatively healthy. Sure, they can’t do everything for themselves, but they can ensure they’re in comfortable conditions.
You do want to make sure you provide them an enclosure with at least three walls for the winter. If your mini donkey has that, then they should get through the cold season just fine. If they leave their enclosure and come towards your farm or home, then yes, in that case, they’re telling you they’re cold. Otherwise, they’re a-okay, even without a blanket.
Part of what keeps them warm is how their coat changes. Wild mini donkeys have no enclosure, nor do they have an owner who would be kind enough to give them a blanket. They have to adapt and survive somehow, though, and so their bodies grew to make their coat thicker in the winter. Your mini donkey will be plenty warm with this coat and some shelter, so you can forego the blanket.
Should You Ever Give Your Mini Donkey a Blanket?
As we mentioned in the intro, there are some exceptions to that rule. If you have a very young or a very old miniature donkey, then you might want to offer them a warm blanket. Older donkeys can’t maintain body warmth as well as healthy adults can, and younger donkeys might not be able to grow a thicker coat yet.
If your mini donkey is sick or underweight, those are two other situations in which it’s best to provide a blanket. Again, these animals can’t keep their body heat up and so they’re going to get cold quicker. In addition to the blanket, you might want to consider using a heat lamp as well.
Otherwise, unless you’ve had the coldest winter on record, there should be no reason to give an adult donkey a blanket if they’re in good health.
How Should You Take Care of Your Mini Donkey in the Winter?
Keeping your mini donkey at an optimal temperature is just one facet of many that comprise their winter care. You also want to make sure you do the following.
Never Groom Wet Mini Donkeys
If you have just bathed your miniature donkey or they’re otherwise wet (such as from snow or rain), refrain from grooming them before you dry them. Grooming wet fur presses dirt and water deep within the surface of the skin. In turn, your donkey ends up retaining more of a chill and will get colder faster than usual.
Groom Every Day, Even with a Blanket or Rug
Let’s say your mini donkey did need a blanket for the winter. This is an everyday accessory, but you can’t leave it on the equine animal 24/7. Each day, you need to take the blanket off and groom your mini donkey. Then you might choose to wash or clean the blanket before putting it back on the animal. If you do wash a blanket or rug, make sure it’s completely dry before replacing it on your mini donkey.
Ensure the Enclosure Is Waterproof
It’s not enough to just put a roof over your mini donkey’s head. You want to make sure this enclosure is waterproof as well. The solidity of the walls matter, as does the base, which should be made of concrete. Try to build or install the enclosure somewhere near where shelter already exists, as that will keep the elements further from the enclosure.
Also, the roof should have a slope so water and snow can fall right off. As we’ve discussed, you also want to build or buy an enclosure with three sides or even four. Within the enclosure, install hardstanding with a fence. This gives you another area to keep the mini donkey should the ground get frosty, muddy, wet, or dirty.
Beware Mud Fever and Dermatophilosis
While the coat of a mini donkey can become thicker to withstand cold weather, the coat itself has no waterproof properties. If the animal gets wet, the rain will soak into their skin. That makes them susceptible to developing two conditions, mud fever and dermatophilosis, which some people call rainscald.
Mud fever goes by names like pastern dermatitis. These diseases occur due to funguses and bacteria, including dermatophytes and fungal organisms as well as Staphylococcus spp and Dermatophilus congolensis.
Rainscald is another disease that affects the skin. The Dermatophilus congolensis bacteria, which can also lead to cases of mud fever, causes rainscald as well. The donkey’s rump, back, and shoulder might be symptomatic with rainscald. With mud fever, it’s the mini donkey’s lower limbs.
To keep your donkey from developing either mud fever or rainscald, make sure they spend most of their time in their enclosure, especially when it’s snowing or raining.
Don’t Forget the Dental Appointments
You need to pay more care to a mini donkey’s oral health during the winter. They eat as much straw and hay in the cold season like any other, but that combined with winter dryness reduces moisture in the mouth. If their teeth are already in poor shape, then your mini donkey might find eating and chewing painful. A dental appointment can diagnose any oral issues and get your donkey the treatment they need.
Have Extra Bedding
Let’s wrap up with a small but significant tip. In snowstorms and other inclement weather, your hay can end up blowing away. It’s always best to make sure you have more than you need, then.
If you have a healthy miniature donkey, they should be able to withstand the cold winters themselves without a blanket. They’ll stay in their enclosure more and grow a thick winter coat. Only sick and older mini donkeys might need a blanket or rug throughout the season.
Other facets of mini donkey care change in the wintertime. While you should still groom every day, make sure your donkey isn’t wet when you do so. You also want to double-check that your enclosure is waterproof with a sloping roof so your mini donkey stays nice and warm all winter long. Beware of oral conditions like mouth dryness and bacteria-driven diseases such as mud foot and rainscald, all of which occur more often in the winter.
If this is your first year owning a mini donkey, you now know how to care for them in the colder weather. Good luck!
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