Dentists for Donkeys Program

We are looking to recruit human dentists who would like to participate in our work here -- without getting dirty! Please consider joining our Dentists for Donkeys Program. We float about 50-60 donkeys every year. Along with other veterinary and farrier expenses, floating is an expensive part of routine annual care ranging from $60-$150 depending on geographical location, dentist and if sedation is required. Some of our donkeys have sponsors who help with these costs; many do not.

What is "floating"?

An equine's adult teeth continue to "erupt" throughout their entire lives. As they grind their food, their teeth wear down, but the dental reserve they hold below their gum line erupts to make up for that loss. Throughout that process, rough edges, points and hooks result from regular use and wear from the opposing teeth.

Floating is a term masons use to describe the action of leveling a row of bricks. In equine dentistry, the process is similar in that horse and donkey teeth are filed to remove the rough edges and to create an efficient chewing surface. Left untreated, the sharp points and hooks make it difficult for animals to fully chew their food and receive the needed nutrition. They also often develop painful sores in their mouths that bleed when they eat.

For that reason, each animal is evaluated every year. Their face, jaws and neck are examined to search for any kind of abnormality. They wear a metal speculum that fits between their front top and bottom teeth and holds open their mouths so tools and hands can do the work that needs to be done. If the donkey remains calm and patient, routine floats take about 10-15 minutes. If they are nervous or afraid, they are given a mild sedative so that the experience is safe and productive for everyone.

How often should teeth be floated?

Equines should be fully examined at least once a year. It is rare that they don't need some kind of catch-up work and usually they need a full float. A good float can be done with hand or power tools and an experienced practitioner knows not to take off more than necessary and how to maximize the efficiency of the animal's "supply".

What issues can be discovered during a float?

Mouth sores, dental decay, tooth loss, oral cancer, nasal issues, etc. Some animals have well-aligned teeth. Others can have over- or under-bites that further complicate their mouths. We have rescued animals who received little to no previous dental care and whose mouths are full of lacerations and totally misaligned teeth. We rescued one older donkey who suffers from a fistula, a hole that in her case creates an open passageway from her mouth to her nasal cavity which causes her complications of various kinds.

How can I help?

Sign up as a participant in our Dentists for Donkeys Program. For an annual contribution, we will provide you with a photograph of a donkey being floated, a short statement describing equine floating, and a certificate documenting your financial support for The Farmette, all of which you could frame to match your own office decor. We will also include your choice of either your name and/or your practice name on our webpage in our list of participating Dentists for Donkeys. There are 3 levels of annual support: Resin, Silver and Porcelain. "Porcelain Donors" who are local to us are invited to invite us! We would be happy to bring a donkey to visit your clinic parking lot or a different outside location for one hour, once a year. The visit could be part of an event such as a staff retreat, a client appreciation day or just as a surprise guest for a special patient of their choosing.

Levels of support

Resin Donor $500/year

Silver Donor $1000/year

Porcelain Donor $1500/year

How do I sign up?

Complete this online Dentists for Donkeys Program Participant Form and we will be in touch!

Thank you for considering this opportunity. We appreciate your help! The Farmette is a 501c3 so donations are tax deductible.