Goats are relatively easy animals to care for, but just like with any other animal, they are prone to certain diseases and health conditions that must be treated. Most goat diseases are caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other problems that are not infectious.
One of the biggest problems with goat diseases is that they tend to be a lot alike, so an actual diagnosis is needed in order to choose the right treatments.
Today we are going to take a look at some of the most common goat diseases and their treatments, so you will have an idea of what to look for. If you see any signs of these illnesses and diseases, it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to get the correct treatments.
Should You Diagnose and Treat Goat Diseases Yourself?
In this article, we are going to talk about common goat diseases and their treatments, but this doesn’t mean that you should automatically go out and buy medications and start treating the problems yourself.
We are giving you the most important symptoms of these diseases, so you have an idea of what to be on the lookout for. The treatments we will be discussing are not complete, they are just guidelines. If you try to treat your goats yourself, you could end up just making the problems worse, because these are not complete treatments.
Some drugs can actually make the problems even more serious than they started out being. We always recommend a diagnosis from a veterinarian or someone who specializes in goat health.
Most goat diseases can be prevented, or at least be minimalized, through preventative health care. As a goat farmer, you will become very familiar with these diseases, and you will learn about prevention and how to keep conditions from getting worse before you can get proper treatment for your animals.
The Most Common Goat Diseases
Before we get into the most common goat diseases, it is important for you to know that while these health conditions are common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your goats will have these problems.
But, they are things you need to know about so you can seek the proper treatment if your goats do develop any of the most common diseases. If you notice any symptoms of the following goat diseases, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Bloat is one of the most common conditions seen in goats, and one of the easiest to treat. It usually happens when Lucerne hay is used. The goats will get distressed, causing them to stamp their feet, bleat, walk with stilted movements, and urinate a lot. This is a condition that can easily be prevented without having to spend a lot of money on vet care.
Rather than having to use goat bloat treatment frequently, it is best to prevent it from happening in the first place. Make sure that you are using dry hay or dry pasture when you are feeding your goats fresh legumes.
Your goat feed should be a mix of dry pasture and legume leaves. It is also a good idea to sprinkle peanut oil on your goats’ feed, as this can help to prevent bloat from occurring.
Hoof rot, also referred to as foot rot, is a highly contagious disease in goats, and it can be caused by a variety of bacteria, the most common being Dichelobacter nodosus.
There are two types of hoof rot, benign and virulent (two strains of virulent), and they can be caused by different Dichelobacter nodosus strains. This infection can lead to any degrees of damage to both the hooves and the horns, and it can cause lameness as well as extreme weight loss.
In order to diagnose hoof rot, a gelatin gel test must be performed. This will measure the activity of the enzyme protease. The more active the levels, the more damage the disease can cause, and it can cause severe damage to the hooves and soft horns.
The most common, and most popular goat hoof rot treatment for hoof rot is trimming the hooves to remove the infected sole. This will have separated from the other tissues. Once you have completed this treatment, it is important that you have the goats stand in a medicated foot bath for a minimum of five minutes.
The bath should contain 10 percent copper or zinc sulfate. Before turning the goats back out to pasture, the hooves should be completely dry.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the udder tissues, and it can be an acute infection, chronic infection, or have various causes. In the case of an acute infection, the udder will be swollen and hot, and milk can be watery or even stained with blood.
If it is a chronic infection, the milk will become sour soon, curdle, and have a foul odor and taste, and a Rapid-Mastitis Test will be necessary. If treatment is needed, the vet will likely recommend terramycin, orbenn L/A, or aureomycin. Chlora mpehnical should be avoided as it can cause a reduction in milk production. Goats should be tested regularly for this common disease.
One of the best ways forms of goat mastitis treatment is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Wash with KMnO4 solution, and remove the milk from the affected area. Give the infected animals an antibiotic injection as recommended by your vet, and repeat for three days.
Diarrhea, also known as scours in goats, is not actually a disease, but it is a common symptom of many diseases and health problems in goats. Before treating a goat for diarrhea, it is important to have your veterinarian diagnose the health problem that is causing it in the first place. This way, you will be treating the health condition as well as the diarrhea. If you simply try to use medications that control diarrhea, you could end up making the problem a lot worse than actually treating it.
The most common goat diarrhea treatment or goat scours treatment is a three step process. First, make sure that your goats have clean, fresh water at all times to keep them from becoming dehydrated.
You should also make sure your goats have electrolytes, either alternating them with clean water or offering both at the same time. This is going to help increase hydration and fluid balance. Finally, the affected animals should be quarantined from other goats, as the disease causing the diarrhea can spread.
Something else to be on the lookout for is parasitic winter diarrhea, also known as Paraphistomiasis. This is a problem that tends to occur between October and March, and it causes loose to watery stools. Effective treatments include Zanil and Nilzan.
Many goat farmers have problems with lice, particularly during the winter months. An infestation can cause serious reactions, restlessness, and condition loss. Goat lice are specific to goats and sheep, and it is pretty much impossible to prevent louse infestations, but they can be controlled. There are two types of lice, biting and sucking. Biting lice live on the surface of the skin, and feed on hair, debris, and flaked skin. Sucking lice feed on their hosts’ blood.
Lice are usually transmitted from animal to animal, so if you notice one goat has lice, quarantine that goat and check the rest to make sure they do not also have lice. The entire herd should be treated for the best effectiveness.
There are numerous insecticides you can use for goat lice treatment. These will help to control adult lice, and can be administered by dust bags, spray, pouring it on, and back rubs.
While these are not vet prescribed, it is still a good idea to talk to your vet about proper treatment, dosages, etc. Be sure to always follow all directions on the medication packaging, and make sure the entire animal is covered with the treatment.
Other Goat Diseases
We have discussed the main goat diseases, but there are actually many more diseases that are common to goats that you should know about. Here are a few more goat diseases to be aware of so you know what to look for in your own animals.
- Abortion – Many goats abort their young during the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy. It is important to seek veterinary treatment in order to avoid infertility. Abortion can happen for several reasons, including drinking water that has salmonella typhinmurium and being fed a diet that is rich in clover or trefoil.
- Anthrax – If you notice a goat’s temperature has suddenly increased to 108 degrees F or more, and has a loss of appetite and/or bloody diarrhea, it could be that it has anthrax. Sudden death can happen, but in many cases, the goat can live for a day or so. Some goats can survive with preventative care, such as huge doses of penicillin. If you live in an area where anthrax is present, it is recommended that your goats have annual vaccinations.
- Cystitis – This is an inflammation of the bladder, and can cause swelling, staining, and difficulty urinating with only small amounts of urine coming out. There can also be blood and pus in the urine. In severe cases, animals show signs of excessive thirst, depression, and even anorexia. Treatment involves using antibiotics as well as warm water with hibitane or Dettol.
- Cheesy Gland – Also known as yolk boils, this condition is caused by the bacterium coryne and pseudotuberculosis. It can cause abscesses that appear as lumps on the neck or beneath the jaw. The head is the most affected area in goats, and the infection tends to enter through abrasions. There are several cheesy gland vaccines, including Glanvac, Websters 6-in-1, cheesyvax, Eweguard, Guardian, and cydectin.
- Indigestion – While they say goats can eat pretty much anything, that is not the case. They do get indigestion, which is often caused by food that has been sprayed with insecticides. Indigestion can lead to loss of appetite, small bowel movements, and lethargy. Epsom salts is often used as a treatment for indigestion in goats, and there are some human remedies that can also help, including Mylanta. Make sure your goats have new, fresh food to eat at all times, and try mineral tonics or clove tea to restore appetite.
- Rinderpest – This is a condition that can cause diarrhea and a mild thermal reaction. Often, ulcers will appear on the inside of the lower lip, as well as on the gums. Rinderpest can be prevented with a rinderpest vaccine. This can also be used if the condition is present, and should be administered in the infection pocket.
- Parasitic Worm Infestation – There are four categories of parasitic worm infection: true or fourth stomach parasites, small intestine parasites, blind gut (Caecum) parasites, and large intestine parasites. All of these parasitic infestations can be treated by using broad spectrum anthelmintics.
- Rabies – While this not a common condition in goats, it is something you need to be aware of. If a goat is bitten by a rabid animal, the disease will develop in 20 to 60 days (not less than 10 days). The goat will begin to act strangely, and will begin to salivate heavily and froth at the mouth. The animal will not eat or drink, and will slowly develop paralysis. It will die within 10 days of the onset of rabies unless vaccinated soon after being bitten.
- Ring Worm –This is an inflammation of the hair follicles, and symptoms include hair falling, circular lesions on the face, shoulders, and neck, irritation, and thick crusts or scales on the skin. Clip the hair and scrub the skin with water and a vet recommended soap. Or, you can use an iodine tincture once daily until the lesions are healed.
Managing Goat Diseases
If you are new to the world of goat farming, it is important that you learn as much as possible about all of the diseases that can affect your animals. The more you know now, the better off your goats will be, and you will have healthy animals that produce quality milk and meat.