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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Siog- what's going on?

Siog, who turned 6 this past July, cycles frequently.  She seems to come into heat about every 3 1/2 -4 weeks and even when I think it's over, she'll display some sign that it's not.

I've been keeping an eye on her, as she clearly seems to be in some discomfort during her cycles. 
What I notice is that she turns her head and noses or nips at her flank just in front of her stifle.  She seems perpetually hungry and she is grumpy with the other donkeys, suddenly turning on whomever is closest and chasing her away.

Several months ago, I asked my vet about the possibility of an ovarian cyst. She agreed that it was possible but how to find out on a mini?  An ultra sound probe is not possible.

So I turned to an equine nutritionist who practices homeopathy, herbal medicine and kinesiology (and then recommends her own expensive products!)   She said to give Siog Vitamin B6 and also Magnesium Citrate when I see her in discomfort,  which acts as a  anti-spasmodic muscle relaxant. 

This does seem to help but I'm a bit leary of giving too much.  If I see Siog in discomfort, I'll mix up some Timothy hay pellets with warmish water and stir in 1/2 tablespoon of the magnesium citrate.  However this isn't getting to the root of whatever problem she has.  Which seems impossible to actually diagnose, other than observing clinical signs.

Spiking hormones, ovarian cyst, something else?   I may try Chaste Tree Berries - am just worried about mucking around feeding her stuff  when I don't really know what's going on!  Any advice out there?


  1. No advice, just a comment : I have a jenny that does the same thing, nipping just in front of her stifle and with mouth wide open going after whoever is closest ! I can't connect it to her cycle and I just put it down as a loose screw in her head ! But now you have me thinking.

    1. Mel, write down the dates when she comes into heat and see if you notice anything else that might be a link. Some donkeys don't show when they are cycling very clearly especially if there aren't any geldings or jacks around. If you can't tell when she's cycling, write down when you see her nipping or grumpy. I always give the donkey the benefit of the doubt - they are stoic and it's difficult sometimes to know what is going on!

    2. OH, she shows when she's in heat! :-) I'm going to try to keep tract. The problem is she doesn't do the nipping thing very often and it's over with in a second.

    3. Yes keep track of everything - observation is key!

  2. I would definitely try the chaste tree. I have had excellent results with it for Emma, who had all the same issues. I have also had good results using it for IR horses. It does not really act on any one hormone, rather it helps mediate hormone responses, which is why is can be effective for a wide range of hormonal issues. What I have seen is that it either helps a lot or not at all depending on the individual. Either way, I have never seen any negative reactions and since it is helping to alleviate big surges in hormones rather than a specific issue, it doesn't really matter what the exact diagnosis is. Obviously, it would be nice to know exactly what is going on, but as that is not possible, this would probably be worth trying. It is certainly the safest and easiest first step. I think you would know if it helps very quickly, probably within days and certainly within one heat cycle.

    As for the magnesium, if you see positive results with that, I don't see any reason not to use it, even on a daily basis. Looking at your hay tests, adding 1 gram a day of Mg would be fine. Higher doses of Mg have also been shown to help IR problems and soften cresty necks.

    This is another one of those things where response is highly individual and there is a lot of conflicting data, none of which applies to donkeys. Bottom line, if you see positive results, stick with it. At these levels, I don't think it would have any down side and some animals have a dramatic increase in well-being with it. Try it for a month and see what happens. Like the chaste tree, you will see results quickly if there are going to be any, if not quit and no harm done either way.

    1. Ah, but this is Magnesium Citrate which is different from Magnesium Oxide - the one that is added to supplements and ... have to admit, I don't know how either one is absorbed by donkeys.

    2. All of the studies with magnesium for equines have been done using oxide so using a form considered to be more bioavailable might not be equivalent gram for gram (of elemental magnesium). Adding another gram of magnesium from mag ox (about 3/4 teaspoon) above what is needed to balance the hay would be safe to try when she seems uncomfortable.