Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Yesterday morning, my five month old wether had foamy green drool coming out of his open mouth.  His mouth was stuffed with chewed hay/leaves.

I dug it all out and felt his throat and there didn’t appear to be any blockage.  When I let him loose, he immediately went and nursed, so I figured he was fine and went about my day.

Five hours later, he had the foamy drool and hay and leaves sticking out of his mouth.  Again, his mouth was stuffed with chewed up hay/leaves.

While searching for those symptoms (drool and open mouth), listeriosis came up, so I started treating for that.

I ruled out bloat because his rumen wasn’t extended.

The only other thing I think it could be is poisoning.  He can get outside the fence and eat whatever plants are around.

Other symptoms he’s displaying:

Bottom right eyelid is drooped away from his eye.

He CAN swallow, but not strongly; he’s been drinking water and milk but hasn’t swallowed anything solid.

Spends a lot of time standing with tail down and head dropped a bit.

Temp last night was 104.9 and twelve hours later was 104.8.

I’m giving him Pen G and vit B complex at the dosage and timing outlined here: https://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com/articles2/listeriosis.html

He’s had four rounds at this point.

He’s been back outside less than two hours and already got outside the fence twice.  First time he was alone and drinking nasty old rainwater and the second time he and his sister were eating leaves.  I got about five unchewed leaves out of his mouth.

He’s definitely moving slower, but is in no way down.

I was thinking of maybe blending up some Timothy/alfalfa pellets, or regular goat feed pellets that my milkers get (everyone else only gets hay and a bit of chaffhaye), in water and seeing if he can ingest that.

Am I missing anything?

I’m guessing it’s not polio so I don’t really need to be giving the vitamin b, but besides poking him twice as much I don’t think it should hurt.

Any suggestions?

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It doesn't sound like goat polio, and if it was, you'd need prescription thiamine. Over-the-counter vitamin B is not worth much. I quit buying it years ago.

I'm wondering if he's poisoning himself. There is so little that is poisonous to goats, but listeriosis would have killed him already. The only puzzling part is the temperature. 

What part of the country do you live in? 

If he's nursing, that's the best thing for him, so I wouldn't worry too much about whether he's eating or not.

I live in NW PA.

I’m not sure that he’s nursing.  I just saw him that once yesterday morning.

I assumed he’d nursed because the whole udder was empty last night, but today I saw his sister nursing from ‘his’ side.

His condition is pretty much the same.  His eyelid is still droopy, still drooling quite a bit, but he hasn’t been holding his mouth open today.

I brought him in at 6 for another round of meds, pulled more leaves out of his mouth, and his temp is now 101.6.

I ended up blending some goat feed in water with some probios and he’s liking that.  He drank some more milk, too.

I think I’ll keep him inside until morning to ensure he’s hydrating and getting some nutrition since I’m not convinced he’s nursing.

Then I guess the plan tomorrow will be to keep him in the kidding/milking pen so he can’t get out but will still be around the others.

I’ll stop the vitamin b, but am kind of scared to stop the pen.

Could he have had a stroke?

The fact that he had a fever indicates some type of infection, although the symptoms don't add up to any type of infection I can think of. So continuing the antibiotics for 48 hours after the fever is gone seems like a good plan.

As for a stroke ... all sorts of things are possible. I've heard of kids dying at various ages and being shown to have all sorts of odd thing causing it, such as heart abnormalities. 

His rumen hadn’t felt great over the weekend, but he was still pooping and last night I could hear gas.

This morning his temp was down to 98.7 and his rumen felt really firm, so I made a vet appointment (unless he was markedly better, I was going to anyway).

His stomachs are compacted.  I probably should have had him euthanized, but decided to try to treat him for a day.  If he makes it the next 24hrs, I’ll be taking him back to the vet tomorrow and we’ll see how he’s doing.

He most likely won’t make it.  It’ll be my first goat loss.

His temp was back up to 102 when we got the vet.

They put an IV in him and I’ll be giving 120mL fluids every three hours.

He got a shot of banamine and thiamine in the office, and I’ll give him thiamine every eight hours.

Vet said to continue to the Pen G, but I’ll be dialing it back to every eight hours instead of six.

I’m going to try to get him to take 35mL of electrolyte/probios/milk mixture every three hours, as well.

That’s the treatment plan.

Surgery was an option, but decided against it.

It was so much to take in that I didn’t ask what she thinks may have caused his GI to malfunction, but I’m guessing there are many possibilities.  And the fever may have just been stress/inflammation and maybe not an infection after all.

Whenever the temp falls below 100, that usually means they're shutting down. 

I wonder if he ate something like a plastic bag, so he has a blockage somewhere in his digestive tract. 

This is definitely not a textbook case of anything in particular. Keep us updated. 

Once he got hydrated, he started acting much better, but the X-ray at his follow up yesterday showed minimal improvement.

He was still peeing and pooped a couple of times, so we decided to keep treating him.

The vet consulted with a vet at OSU (who she’d been in contact with already this week about an issue she’s having with her own goats) who suggested pulling back on the IV fluids, increasing the oral fluids, keeping up with the thiamine, and adding miralax (three times a day with yogurt).

The plan is to do this for two days, at which point we’ll reassess, and maybe do surgery.  For a hot minute there while waiting to hear back from the OSU vet, we were planning on doing surgery last night, but the other vet said he’ll probably be ok for a couple more days and we should be a little more patient.

So, I’m cautiously optimistic.

He’s feeling well enough that my barricade to keep him in the living room is no longer effective, but he also hasn’t pooped since yesterday morning.....

I asked if she thought there might be a foreign object causing a blockage and she thinks that probably isn’t the case because there isn’t any part of his intestine that is distended.

This is certainly an unusual case. 

There was someone on here quite a few years back who had a goat that ate a plastic bag. After she died, they did a field necropsy and found it in her rumen. If it's a plastic bag in the rumen, I don't think there would be any distended intestines, but it would sure mess up the normal transit of food. I'm especially suspicious of that possibility since you said he hasn't pooped since yesterday. 

He’s a lot more active, but still isn’t swallowing food (but has started chewing it again, instead of just holding it) and pooped twice on the fourth and once yesterday.

His guts have sounded much more active the past two days.

His last IV fluids were given yesterday morning, along with his last thiamine shot.

So the only treatment now is drenching yogurt and electrolytes with probios every 4-6 hours.  With miralax every 12 hours.

He hasn’t been back to the vet.  I’ve been giving updates and since things seem to be slowly improving and haven’t gotten worse, we’re planning on me taking him back in two days.

And since he hasnt’ been back to the vet, he still has the catheter in his neck, so I can’t let him out with everyone else.  He’d be a lot happier running around out there instead of being stuck inside with me.

Thanks for the update! I've never heard of a goat being sick and not eating for this long. Something is not right, especially if you have to give him laxative to make him poop. Any chance you are within driving distance of a vet school? If a goat is legitimately constipated, which your little guy is, then there is something seriously wrong. Here's more info on that --

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goat-constipation/

Cornell is almost four hours away and OSU is about four and a half.

When I went to the first vet appointment, I had directions to Cornell ready in case I was unhappy with how things went as this is the first time I’ve had an issue this serious.

For a while I’ve been thinking maybe there is a partial blockage since he’s had so few bms and it sounds like his rumen has started functioning a bit.  

But something that isn’t making sense to me is he’s been getting the miralax for four days now (and has had three, low volume bms) so you’d think if he is blocked, or not passing for whatever reason, he’d be in a lot of discomfort but he doesn’t seem to be. Plus he really wants to eat, just doesn’t have room for it (at least that’s my guess to why he isn’t swallowing what he’s chewing).

If his condition doesn’t change much before I take him in Monday, I’m guessing we’ll do exploratory surgery.

Which I feel better about his chances of making it through now that he’s been acting better.

The great thing about vet schools is that they have 24 hour clinics, and they will talk to you on the phone at no charge. They know that in many cases you are looking for a second opinion because your local vet is having a challenge.

Miralax is not a stimulant laxative, so that's why the goat is not having cramping. It does not stimulate the nerves in the bowel. It's just a bulking laxative that draws more fluid into the stool. Depending upon how you are holding his head when you give him the Miralax (probably holding his head up) that would close the esophageal groove so that it goes directly into his second stomach (not the rumen) and can then go through his digestive system. The Miralax just helped to move along what little was left in his digestive system. It really sounds like there is something in his rumen, which is why he's not swallowing food. I think it's pretty amazing he's still alive after a week. 

After so many days without eating, he will probably need a rumen transfer, which most local vets can't do, which is another reason I'd suggest a university hospital. I'd just call the university clinic and talk to the vet on call. And if they are both about the same distance, I'd probably call both to get an idea of their approach and the cost. Most vet hospitals are much cheaper than private vets. Tufts is the only one I've heard of that's as expensive as a private vet.

Thank you for pointing out the bit about the nature of miralax and how it’s probably bypassing his rumen.  I hadn’t considered that.  And I’ll stop expecting him to poop more.

I’m surprised he’s still alive, too, but he’s acting like the PITA a five month old should be.  I can’t leave him alone outside of his crate for a minute.

I called Cornell and they offered to set up an appointment to evaluate him and gave me an estimate on cost ($400-800 for exam, bloodwork, and ultrasound).  They didn’t ask any follow up questions after I gave a brief rundown of what’s going on and didn’t indicate that it sounded like he should be seen right away.

I think when I take him back in tomorrow, I’ll let the vet know I’d be willing to take him to a university hospital if she thinks that’d be best.  She has consulted with someone from OSU about him.

And I’ll ask for more information on how we plan to get his rumen going again after surgery (if we go that route, which I assume we will).

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