Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All Choked Up

May your life be interesting.

Is it any wonder this is considered a curse?  It's been "interesting" around here the last few days.    Late last week, I noticed that Emma was having trouble chewing her food and it got steadily worse each day.  She is right at the age where she is losing her back baby teeth and growing in her adult teeth so I figured that was the problem and it ought to resolve itself once those pesky caps fell off.  By Sunday morning, she was having so much trouble though, that I had resigned myself to calling the vet first thing Monday morning to have her checked out.

In dire need of an escape from my own wheezing bout of asthmatic bronchitis, I took Tessa out for a ride Sunday afternoon with RB and returned around 6:00 to find Emma in considerable distress, drooling copiously and unable to swallow because she was choking on her food.

Choke in equines is a little different then in humans as their anatomy is different.  Horses and donkeys can not breath through their mouths, only their nose, so they are not at immediate risk of suffocation as a person would be.  However the risk of perforating the esophagus or having food get stuck in the larynx and being aspirated into the lungs is higher.  Choke is a very scary thing.  It often does resolve on its own or can be resolved by massaging the throat, but if an animal has been choking for more than an hour, immediate help is needed.  Of course, it was Sunday night and it took over an hour to even get in touch with a vet.  She was another hour away, but would head out.  While waiting for the vet, Emma got even more distressed and started rolling and pacing.  Just about the time I was really getting frantic and trying to stop Emma from throwing herself on the ground once more, she suddenly gulped once more and.....finally swallowed.  She immediately calmed down, swallowed several more times and was better.

I called the vet back, she had just left, and we decided not to do any more that night as the immediate crisis had passed.  Emma was able to eat a very soft mash of thoroughly soaked hay pellets  and we made plans though for the vet to come out as soon as possible with her dental tools to check Emma's teeth, which we did this afternoon.  

Emma in the "dentist's chair"...

She had several caps (baby teeth) that had partially broken off and gotten stuck.  Every time she tried to chew, those sharp points were digging into her cheek and gums.  There was also one cap that should have fallen off a while ago, but didn't, so the new tooth underneath has not been wearing down properly.  The vet ground that down and her mouth is now in good shape.  For now.  She has several more caps that aren't ready to come out yet.  I devoutly hope that we won't be doing this again in a few months!

The good news is that, before the vet even left, Emma was feeling good enough to nibble some hay, which she hasn't touched in three days.

I LOVE my young donkeys and having a baby donkey has been one of the best things in my life.  But, I have to confess that I will be very glad when they both get a little older.  Baby donkeys seem to be rather fragile creatures.  Or maybe it is just MY baby donkeys.  Either way, I'll be very glad when everybody is a little older, a little tougher and has all their damned teeth!


  1. oh, i'm so sorry for her pain and distress and your scare!!

  2. Jeez how scarey... I've seen the usual problems with caps over the years, but never anything like that. I guess somebody blessed you with that curse at some stage.

  3. What's SUPPOSED to happen to their baby teeth? Do they usually just fall out or dissolve? Do you think Ramsey will have the same experience? Yikes, scary. Well, never dull around your place, huh?

    I drove into the country for a delivery the other day and the roads were thickly lined with ragweed. Hopefully it will be gone soon and you'll have some relief.

    1. The teeth generally fall off and get spit out or crunched up. As for Ramsey having this trouble, given my luck....I don't want to think about it yet.

  4. Tough scare, I've not had such problems with my donkeys although Eddie kept giving us fits one winter! Now that he is just about 5 yrs old, I'm going to start him under saddle!

  5. Here is Eddie as a weanling:
    in case you were interested!

  6. I learn the most interesting things from you! I'm very glad that everything worked out OK.
    Nancy in Iowa

  7. Glad all went well and is on the mend .
    Been there done that about seven years ago with Tink ,
    and it is so scary when the go through choke .

  8. Poor baby! We're glad she's doing better now :)

  9. Your post today feels like I am reading about my two young donkeys. Been through baby teeth getting stuck sideways and cutting the cheek of our first donkey so she couldn't eat. And choke three times in her younger sister. The first choke resolved on its own. The second choke event found our vet needing to see to a colic case first. He suggested using a turkey baster to flush warm water into the donkey's mouth. NOT shooting water into the throat but gently rinsing over the tongue. After about a dozen rinses, her tongue stuck out, she swallowed and was back to normal. A bonus is the turkey baster rinsing gives you something to try until the vet arrives and helps keep you a bit calmer. We handled the last event on our own using that technique and then switched to feeding in net bags.

    Glad Emma is well and hope you are, too.

  10. I've "been there" too! I have a whole box of donkey baby teeth - lol! Nobody had troubles though like poor Siog! Two caps had to be removed by the vet after creating ulcers on the inside of her cheek, then she had "steps" in her mouth and couldn't eat properly for a week! Thank goodness for soaked hay cubes! I even had to give her small does of Banamine she was so miserable. Mostly though (in my experience) the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth goes well. Beware of the speculum cranking her mouth open too wide though - it can be harmful - my vet doesn't use that type anymore.

  11. Poor girl. I'm glad she's doing better. :-)

  12. Oh, gosh, I've been through that dental device and I hate it as much as they do!

  13. Phew, thank goodness she's ok - no more retained caps Emma (and listen in Ramsey) your Ma doesn't need anymore stress!

  14. I always learn so much from your blog. I'm so glad she's OK, so, so, scary... but you share so much useful information and life stories that I know a lot of people either don't experience and or share anyway. I don't know all that much about donkeys or horses so I always learn a lot reading your blog.

  15. For goodness sake! Your blog has taught me so much about what can go wrong with donkeys. I am wondering what you will do with those teeth.