My first glimpse of Marigold was impressive: A russet-colored donkey, feet planted and head outstretched, stubbornly refusing to walk through a large entryway despite treats and several barn staff straining at her halter. Only after startling her with a few loud claps did she finally take the last few steps inside.
Marigold presented for several days of decreased appetite and spending too much time lying down. Bloodwork showed she was dehydrated and had high triglycerides, indicating that she was on the cusp of developing hepatic lipidosis (also called fatty liver disease), a condition common in donkeys, minis, or obese patients who aren’t eating. Results of the abdominal ultrasound and rectal exam revealed dilation of the stomach and an impaction of the small colon. Passage of a nasogastric tube confirmed that the stomach dilation was due to an impaction of the stomach.
Marigold was given fluids and dextrose intravenously, to help correct her dehydration and prevent the onset of hepatic lipidosis. Her nasogastric tube was left in place to allow for periodic gastric lavage and enteral fluids, to help break up her gastric and small colon impactions. After two days, her impactions had resolved and she had developed stinky nasal discharge, a sign of irritation and secondary bacterial infection due to the nasogastric tube. So her tube was pulled, to her immense relief.
Marigold’s appetite didn’t return as readily, but after transfaunating her to support her gut microflora and tempting her with a variety of foods, she finally started nibbling on some grass and hay stretcher. (Of course, fresh grass is very hard to find in January in New England.) She soon learned to use her “cute face” to her advantage: Absolutely no one could resist feeding her some grass once they took in her long ears, tilted head, and nibbling lips.
To no one’s surprise, Marigold was just as stubborn when it came to leaving, and again it took a small crowd of people to move her through the doorway.