December 11, 2008

Symptoms of a Sick Goat

In order to be able to recognize when a goat is sick, the owner must closely observe their herd when they are healthy. The average healthy goat is alert and curious. They show interest in food and chew their cud after feeding. Their eyes are bright and clear and their nose is dry. Their coat is shiny and clean and in good weather their tail is up. Their droppings are firm and pelleted and their gait is energetic and steady. They will have a temperature between 101.5 and 103.5, keeping the outside weather conditions in mind.

Through daily observation the goat owner will learn what is normal for the individuals in their herd and will be able to quickly spot a goat that just isn’t acting right, one that may be sick. Early assessment and action greatly increases the chances of a successful outcome to treatment.

Some warning signs of a goat that may be sick or need medical attention are:
  • A goat that separates itself from the rest of the herd.
  • Standing with its head and tail down, with a hunched back.
  • Trembling, muscle twitching or head shaking.
  • A goat that is anxious or weak, listless or reluctant to move.
  • Poor appetite, won't eat or won't drink.
  • Change in consistancy or color of feces, scouring (diarrhea) or tapeworm segments.
  • Strains to urinate, unable to urinate, or blood in the urine.
  • Fever (above 103.5) or subnormal temperature. (below 101.5)
  • Moans or cries.
  • Grinding teeth, signs of pain.
  • Bloated, kicking or biting at stomach.
  • Enlarged knees or recuring abscesses.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.
  • Chronic cough or sweet smell to breath.
  • Cloudy or green nasal discharge.
  • Cloudy, watery, closed eyes or a discharge from them.
  • Dull, scruffy coat, sores, scabs or other skin problems.
  • Excessive rubbing, scratching or biting at lower legs.
  • Soft swelling under face (bottlejaw), white gums and inner eyelids.
  • Abnormal color or consistency of milk.
  • Hot, lumpy or hard udder.
  • Limping, tender "walking on eggshells" gait or a bad, distinctive odor to hooves.
  • Unsteady, drunken like gait, circling or stiff sawhorse like stance.
  • Unable to stand, lies on side making paddling movements.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Although goats are typically hardy animals, they can still be susceptible to parasites, illness and diseases. A preventative disease program should be discussed with your goat knowledgeable veterinarian.

By Jennifer Fulton

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