Does my goat have bloat?

Asked March 18, 2019, 4:12 PM EDT

I have a seven-year-old Nubian dairy goat living on my pasture. She belongs to a Waldorf school and I’ve only had her here since December. Last night, She was not interested in following me to the storage where I pull out the 2nd cut hay to get them to go in the shelter. I think she spent part of the day yesterday laying around. She normally eats BlackBerries with great avidity. Last night after putting them to bed, I checked on her. She was sitting on her haunches but didn’t seem ill. This Morning she wouldn’t get up. I’ve been With her for 2 hours. Trying to give her NaHco3 and olive oil. I am trying to get her up and do hear sounds of her gut when she struggles. Now she hasn’t been out of the shelter and is unwilling to get up. I find it hard to believe that she could’ve eaten any quantity of clover. I don’t see one cloverleaf in this pasture. It’s basically dead aka oxidized grass that needs to be mowed. The sheep root for some clumps of grass underneath. There may be poison hemlock, so a picture is attached. Thank you! Joan

Jackson County Oregon veterinary goats

5 Responses

Thanks for the question. Any goat laying down for a prolonged period of time will have bloat because they cannot expel the gas in that position. If she stands up and is very tense and distended on the left side she is likely bloated. I am more suspicious that there may be a tumor in her abdomen. The baking soda and oil are not likely to be helpful. She should be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian and possible referred for diagnostic imaging including a CT scan (these are subsidized and therefore very inexpensive at OSU).
Dr. Estill

Dear Dr. Estill:


It turns out ( I believe) that she had a recurrence of polioencephalomalacia. which she had a dramatic onset of at the end of January.

Her history: Daffodil (at least 9 years old, not 7, and a rescue) suffered an episode of opisthotonos and paralysis one morning in late January and was rushed to the clinic and received massive doses of Thiamine. She spent a night in the hospital but recovered completely and then was repeatedly dosed over many days.

She has been receiving the minerals recommended at least twice weekly as well as second cut hay every evening. She eats no bracken fern and her diet is mostly orchard grass and blackberry leaves and branches, which she loves.

We lost her this morning. I didn't get the thiamine injection to her in time. I drove to the clinic in Central Point to get it but she was dead when I got back to give it to her. I am so so sad.... she was bloated yesterday and our focus was on the gut. Then last night I saw that her pupils were dilated and the kind veterinarian who was advising me called it "central blindness" but she had no Thiamine to bring me.

Why was she so vulnerable to this deadly neurological disease and what could I have done to keep her from succumbing to a second episode that masqueraded as a GI affliction?

Could she indeed have had cancer or a tumor? The veterinarian I spoke to said that cancer was not common with goats.

Thank you for any help you might offer me!

Joan Becich



Joan,

So sorry you lost daffodil. Goats with polio usually have nystagmus (rhythmic twitching of the eyeballs) and dorso-medial strabismus (eyes are "looking" up and towards the nose). Cases which develop and progress rapidly have a poor prognosis.

Causes include thiamine deficiency, sodium toxicity, sulfur excess, water deprivation, or lead poisoning. Goats naturally produce thiamine in the rumen but if teh rumen is upset not enough thiamine is made. Things like too much grain or rapid diet changes can cause this. Also, consumption of bracken fern, horsetail, or pigweed can cause polio. Finally, the coccioiostat, Corid, is another cause. As far as cancer goes, we are seeing more cases as many goats are kept as pet to a ripe old age plus the use of CT imaging enhances our ability to see inside the animal. Cancer has been associated with the clinical sign of bloat.



Hello Charles E.:

I didn't see your response till today. I don't think she had eaten anything out of the ordinary or among those items mentioned. There wasn't a real reason for her to have bloat. However, the night before she got ill she didn't have an appetite for the hay we gave as a treat before bedtime.

I think cancer would present over a longer time period, don't you think? She was older, at least 9 but probably older than that. I am sure that goats can get cancer just like any other animal. what type do ruminates get?

The widely dilated pupils due to Central blindness at 7 PM was what led us to thinking she had a recurrence of the polioencephalomalacia. Also, she was burping and twitching quite a lot that day. She didn't have the opisthotonos as dramatically as during her first episode until many hours had passed. By the evening her neck was extended way back and certainly it was when I found her passed. She certainly didn't look great that morning (Tuesday) but was breathing and laying on her side. After death the abdomen was tense.

Daffy was active and intelligent for her age prior to that day.... I am still so sad and miss her endearing companionship and love of blackberries!

Thank you!
Joan Becich

Hello Charles E.:

I didn't see your response till today. I don't think she had eaten anything out of the ordinary or among those items mentioned. There wasn't a real reason for her to have bloat. However, the night before she got ill she didn't have an appetite for the hay we gave as a treat before bedtime.

I think cancer would present over a longer time period, don't you think? She was older, at least 9 but probably older than that. I am sure that goats can get cancer just like any other animal. what type do ruminates get?

The widely dilated pupils due to Central blindness at 7 PM was what led us to thinking she had a recurrence of the polioencephalomalacia. Also, she was burping and twitching quite a lot that day. She didn't have the opisthotonos as dramatically as during her first episode until many hours had passed. By the evening her neck was extended way back and certainly it was when I found her passed. She certainly didn't look great that morning (Tuesday) but was breathing and laying on her side. After death the abdomen was tense.

Daffy was active and intelligent for her age prior to that day.... I am still so sad and miss her endearing companionship and love of blackberries!

Thank you!
Joan Becich