PNEUMONIA IN GOATS
Pneumonia is one of the two main killers of goats (the other being a heavy wormload). A wormload compromises the goat's immune system, predisposing it to other illnesses such as pneumonia and listeriosis. Prime times for pneumonia in goats are spring and summer, although it can be a year-round killer of both kids and adults.
Wide swings of temperature and changes in climatic conditions, such as wet weather, high daytime temperatures, high humidity, and much lower evening temperatures, can set the stage for pneumonia. Goats in general but kids in particular have trouble controlling body temperature under such conditions, causing them to be susceptible to developing pneumonia. My experience (Texas) has been that goats can handle rapid hot- to- cold cycles better than fast cold- to- hot temperature changes. Pneumonia is not a contagious disease.
Interstitial pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia in goats and its only symptom can easily be missed. No snotty nose, no coughing, oftentimes no congestion. Interstitial pneumonia has only one symptom: rapid onset of very high fever (high as 109*F), followed by a quick drop in body temperature which, when it falls below 100*F, the goat's lungs are filling up with fluids and dying. The goat can look fine at night and be dead by morning. Death can occur in as little as four hours.
If you aren't aware of your goats' normal behavior, you can easily miss the onset of Interstitial pneumonia. And if you do catch it and don't have appropriate prescription medications on hand, the goat is likely going to die.
TREATMENT PROTOCOL: Take the sick goat's rectal temperature. Body temperature tells you which way to proceed treatment-wise. Fever indicates infection or inflammation. (Example: A newborn with "weak-kid syndrome" will have sub-normal body temperature that requires a different treatment regimen from a kid running a fever caused by an infection). Without taking rectal temperature, you can misinterpret visual symptoms, wrongly diagnose the cause of the problem, and medicate the goat incorrectly, resulting in the goat's death. See my article entitled Diagnosing Illnesses in Goats on www.tennesseemeatgoats.com on the Articles page or in MeatGoatMania.
If high fever is present, it must be brought down quickly. Fever-reducing medication and appropriate antibiotics must be started immediately.
If the illness has progressed far enough, the goat may try to sit down, moan with discomfort, and immediately stand up, because fluid has begun to accumulate in the lungs and abdomen and its kidneys are shutting down. A goat in this condition probably cannot be saved but always try until efforts prove futile. A goat that wants to live can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. When the lungs fill with fluid, survival is unlikely. If the goat cannot be saved, then humanely euthanize it.
Banamine or generic equivalent (veterinary prescription) lowers high body temperature and helps alleviate pain and inflammation. Banamine should be used once every 12 hours for no more than two or three days until fever goes down. Administer Banamine into the muscle (IM), dosing 1cc per 100 lbs. body weight. If Banamine is not available, 81 mg (baby) aspirin can be used. Treat medium-to-large breed adult goats with at least three baby aspirin. Do not use other pain relievers, such as Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, etc. --- only baby aspirin. Baby aspirin is *not* a good alternative to Banamine, so buy a bottle of generic Banamine (flunixin meglumine) from your vet.
Keep a supply of prescription medications on hand for emergencies. Nuflor or Nuflor Gold and Excenel RTU are excellent antibiotics for respiratory illnesses and do not require refrigeration. These thick liquids must be administered through an 18-gauge needle into the muscle (IM) to get into the bloodstream quickly. Use a luer-lock syringe so that the needle does not blow off the syringe. For maximum benefit in goats, Nuflor should be injected daily for five consecutive days at a dosage of 6 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight. Nuflor Gold, which provides some protection against mycoplasma that Nuflor does not have, should be dosed at 6 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight for five consecutive days. Nuflor Gold is my antibiotic of choice for adult goats with respiratory illnesses. All antibiotics given to goats must be dosed for five consecutive days.
Excenel RTU is a ready-to-use shelf-stable form of Naxcel that requires no mixing and no refrigeration. These advantages make it more convenient to use and store than Naxcel. Excenel RTU is dosed at 6 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight for five consecutive days and should be given IM (into the muscle) through an 18-gauge needle. Minimum dosage for a medium-to-large sized breed newborn kid is 1/2 cc. During the first 24 hours, give two injections 12 hours apart, then daily for the next four days. Use Excenel RTU with newborns and young kids rather than Nuflor or Nuflor Gold.
Naxcel is a good antibiotic but is limited convenience-wise by having to keep it refrigerated and the necessity to mix and use the entire bottle within seven days or freeze remaining dosages in individual syringes. Naxcel must be given to goats in dosages stronger than indicated on the label. A newborn kid must receive at least 1/2 cc per day for five consecutive days to be effective. A one-hundred pound goat needs 4 cc's per dosage for five consecutive days. Always complete the five consecutive days of treatment even if the animal is looking better. Relapses are likely. Consult your goat veterinarian, establish a working relationship, and use these medications under vet supervision.
If access to prescription antibiotics is not available, then you will have to use over-the-counter penicillin or oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA200 or generic equivalent) Penicillin should be dosed at 5 cc's per 100 pounds body weight given SQ over the ribs for five consecutive days, using a luer-lock syringe with an 18-gauge needle. Dose oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml using five (5) cc per 100 pounds bodyweight given SQ over the ribs with an 18 gauge needle for five consecutive days.
Use prescription antibiotics to treat pneumonia in goats. Nuflor or Nuflor Gold and Excenel Ready To Use (RTU) are far superior to over-the-counter products and are worth the extra expense. Single-shot antibiotics do *not* work well due to goats' very fast metabolism.
If the goat is displaying respiratory distress, administer twice daily at a dosage of 6 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight an oral expectorant/antihistamine/decongestant. Children's antihistamine/decongestant/expectorant syrups (Robitussin DM) may have to be used since Expectahist is no longer available unless your vet will have a compounding pharmacist make it for you. Don't discount the importance of these oral medications.
Keep the sick goat in a shaded, dry, free-from-draft location with plenty of fresh water, electrolytes, free-choice grass hay, and green leaves. No sacked feed. If the animal is not drinking water, orally drench with electrolytes (Bounce Back or ReSorb). A 100 pound goat needs one gallon of fluids in small amounts over a 24 hour period. If dehydration is severe, sub-cutaneous (SQ) delivery of Lactated Ringers Solution (vet prescription) is necessary. Refer to my articles about (a) dehydration and (b) how to stomach tube a sick goat on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.
Never forget the beneficial effect of green leaves(the goat's natural food). Oak, elm, and hackberry are favorites. Do *not* feed cherry leaves; they are toxic to goats. Fresh green leaves from most trees (but not ornamentals like lantana, rhododendrin, azaleas) are easily digestible. Don't try to feed grain concentrates to a sick goat. The rumen is *off* and cannot properly digest grains. If the goat is off feed, give Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) injections every 12 hours dosing SQ at 4 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight. Brain function depends upon the availability of thiamine, and it takes a healthy rumen to produce it.
Using antibiotics when they should not be used decreases their effectiveness when they are really needed because the goat's body can build up resistance to repeated use. The ineffectiveness of penicillin with certain illnesses is an example of antibiotic overuse.
Follow up all antibiotic treatments with an oral probiotic, but use it after the antibiotic regimen has been completed. Jeffers at 1-800-533-3377 or www.jefferslivestock.com carries a variety of probiotics, Presponse HM pneumonia vaccine, penicillin, oxytetracycline, CD/T vaccine, C&D Anti-Toxin, electrolytes, fortified vitamin B complex, and almost anything you need for goats, but *not* prescription items.
White or clear nasal discharge is usually allergy-related, but if fever is present, then infection or inflammation exists and must be treated.
Presponse HM is the pneumonia vaccine to use. See my article on Deworming & Vaccination Schedule at Onion Creek Ranch. Vaccinating against pneumonia is as important as using the CD/T vaccine for overeating disease and tetanus protection. See my article on Deworming & Vaccination Schedule.
Goats raised primarily on forage/browse or under free-range conditions are less likely to have as many health problems as goats raised under intense management. Sound practices that include good shelter during bad weather, clean pens, fresh water, good nutrition, and no crowding help prevent many goat health problems. Those of you who must raise goats under less-than-ideal conditions must be aware of these facts and be prepared. Properly-fed and properly dewormed goats can ward off illnesses that poorly-fed goats cannot overcome. Good nutrition, worm control, no overcrowding, and vaccinations are cheap protection against animal loss.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 8.1.21
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)