How do I treat common goat diseases?

A young boy.

Treating common diseases in goats often requires a combination of diagnostic care, medication, and isolation. A lot depends on the specific disease in question, as well as how many goats in your herd are affected. The first step is usually to keep an eye on your goats. Being familiar with your normal behavior will help you to notice any subtle changes in your health. There are many common diseases in goats, and while some of them can be treated at home, others may require professional veterinary care. Veterinarians should be consulted for more serious problems or when home treatments do not help. Common examples of conditions that warrant intervention include a disease known as “black shin,” parasites, and the bacterial infection listeriosis. Prompt treatment is usually necessary to avoid permanent damage or death, which means being proactive and being in control of your goats’ health is really important.

Learn to identify common behaviors

Some diseases can be treated by changing the goat’s diet.

A goat will normally show symptoms immediately if there is a problem. Usually the first symptom is depression and the animal hangs its head, loses its appetite or generally acts as if it is suffering. If the goat has a virus or other type of infection, it is important to isolate it from the rest of the herd so that the infection does not spread.

Check for swelling and fever

Owners may also feel swelling and swelling around the goat, which can be symptoms of specific problems; checking your pet for a fever, usually with a veterinary thermometer, can also be a good idea.

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Mineral oil can bring relief to a bloated goat.

Sometimes goats simply eat very rich food and become bloated, which can be relieved by administering baking soda or mineral oil. It is important to keep in mind, however, that worms or other infections can also cause swelling. Making sure deworming schedules are up to date is important to ensure healthy goats. Another common problem caused by very rich foods is laminitis, which causes temporary lameness. Laminitis can usually be treated by giving the goat a soft bedding and starting with a protein-free diet such as hay or grass.

General Corrections

Even if you don’t know exactly what’s bothering your goat, some general solutions can improve. Changing the animals’ diet and ensuring there is clean water and enough food are good places to start. A clean place to rest out of direct sunlight can also help, especially in the hottest summer months. If nothing you do seems to be improving, it may be time to give your pet a more formal examination. Most experts recommend a checkup if things don’t improve on their own within a day or two.

Identifying Blackleg

If your goat doesn’t have swelling and you know it doesn’t have worms, but it’s sad and looks bloated, it may have ingested soil bacteria and contracted black shin. Blacklegs is a potentially fatal disease that causes spongy swelling, fever, and rapid breathing. Swelling is usually noticeable in the neck, back, shoulders, and hips. It usually occurs very quickly and the only cure is antibiotics. These high-potency drugs are usually only available from a licensed veterinarian.

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parasites and viruses

Goats also tend to be susceptible to coccidiosis, a parasitic disease that causes diarrhea and dehydration. Coccidiosis and other goat diseases caused by parasites and viruses must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian, due to how specific and nuanced the symptoms tend to be. Some forms, such as foot-and-mouth disease, are so severe that the goat must be euthanized. Sometimes catching the disease early enough can prevent this outcome, but not always.


Another common, yet serious, goat disease is listeriosis. It is recognizable by the peculiar way one side of the goat’s face will become paralyzed, as if it had a stroke. A veterinarian should be called if you ever notice this since, if left untreated, the goat can die within 24 hours. Goats can and often do carry this disease for years without any symptoms, and then suddenly display them. Listeriosis is contagious, which means that total isolation is usually the best course. If you put the animal in a shared barn stall or other communal place, it should be completely sterilized before other goats have access to it.

Importance of Prevention

Proper care and prevention are two of the best ways to keep diseases like these away from your goats. Keeping water and hay clean and making sure that pastures and barns are clear of manure can help prevent the spread of infection. Checking goats daily for proper feeding and behavior to prevent most problems, and taking precautions can the moment illness is suspected can go a long way when it comes to saving lives.

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