Miracle as fizzy pop op heals Joey the donkey

By Jill Dando News

A donkey has bounced back to health after a potentially fatal condition was treated by vets with the most unlikely remedy – 24 litres of fizzy cola drink.

The miracle cola was administered by a vet in carefully controlled conditions via a tube up the donkey’s nose that led directly into his stomach. Cola should never be given to healthy donkeys or without being administered by a qualified veterinary surgeon.

Fifteen-year-old donkey Joey, who lives at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, stopped eating after he lost his elderly mum Josie in November last year.

Soon after that, Joey developed a large gastric impaction, meaning he had a solid blockage of food in his stomach that he was unable to pass through into his small intestine.

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His situation was looking serious, so vets at the animal welfare charity rushed into action, giving Joey an abdominal ultrasound and conducting a process called gastroscopy, which meant putting a camera up his nose and into his stomach. They then devised a plan to treat the blockage in Joey’s stomach.

Jamie Forrest, one of the sanctuary’s veterinary surgeons, said: “Intensive treatment was required to resolve the impaction. As well as pain relief, we flushed Joey’s stomach with cola several times a day to dissolve the solid.

“We used six litres of full-sugar cola a day, spread out over three treatments, for four days, to soften and dissolve the impactions in his stomach so the ingesta could once again travel to his intestine.
“In essence, the cola acted like a drain cleaner. It eats away at the firm matter and eventually softens it to a point where it can pass.”

As part of the treatment Joey was placed on a restricted diet to prevent his stomach impaction from getting larger, while the sugar in the cola also helped reduce the risk of Joey developing a condition called hyperlipaemia, a potentially fatal disease for donkeys if not treated promptly.

“In Joey’s case, we were concerned about the risk.” Jamie adds. “It would have been quite likely that he developed hyperlipaemia had we not intervened.”

During Joey’s treatment, he was tended to in his barn by his dedicated grooms and was put on a shavings bed instead of his usual straw bed to ensure he didn’t add further to the impaction.

After four days of treatment, Joey was showing signs he was well on the mend, and another gastroscopy revealed the blockage had cleared.

During his treatment, Joey struck up a friendship with another bereaved donkey called Ben, who had recently lost his closely bonded companion. They had been introduced as grooms hoped that their shared experience of loss would help them to comfort one another.

Although it is still early days, their friendship is still flourishing, and grooms believe their future together looks promising.

With Joey now back to full health, he has thrown himself back into life at the Sidmouth sanctuary. Jamie added: “We are really pleased with Joey’s recovery. It was touch and go for a while whether we continued treatment, as the impaction was quite severe.

“Thankfully, he pulled through. We thought he had the strength to survive the whole time so we persevered with the treatment, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”

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