I have an aged (13 yrs + ) pygmy-cashmere cross who has bad arthritis in her front knees, esp. the right one. It looks very week and wobbly, almost giving out beneath her sometimes. She gets 2 aspirin morning and night, a homeopathic med for joints, and linament rub. I know she is approaching the end of her life but she still gets around in the pasture and eats grass all day, and I want to keep her as comfortable as I can until she wants to say her final goodbyes. Is there any way I can fashion a knee brace for her? Any other ideas? It really seems to be the one bad knee that is lowering her quality of life.
Type of Animal: Goat
Age: 13 years
Name of Animal: Perlita
aspirin, monthly shots of chondro-protec (sort of like adequine), homeopathic drops for joint health from Hoegger Goat Supply, Absorbine linament
Hi, I'm Dr. Jill. My first thought would be to consider increasing her aspirin dose. The maximum dosage is 100mg/kg twice a day by mouth, and the normal adult size aspirin tablet is 325mg. I'm guessing she's rather small given that she's a pygmy cross, but even if she only weighs 40 pounds, the 100mg/kg dose would be 5.5 adult size aspirin (325mg) twice a day. Larger doses are needed in ruminants because of the effects of their rumen on oral medications. Aspirin can have side effects, especially long term, but I imagine keeping her more comfortable and increasing the risk of side effects would be preferable in her situation.
If there is 1 or only a few joints causing issues, another option would be to have your veterinarian inject steroids into the joint to decrease inflammmation. This may make her more comfortable for several months.
Knee braces are difficult in goats since they're usually not apt to keep them on and they cause rub sores unless they fit perfectly...and can cause sores even then. An easy thing to try would be to wrap the leg in an elastic bandage to help support keeping her leg straight when she's standing and decrease the amount of effort she needs to do for that. Generally bandages have to be secured up high over the back to the opposite leg to hold them up.
Any bandage or splint should be removed daily to check for signs of sores underneath.
Another thing to make sure of is that her feet are in good shape and trimmed appropriately...if you haven't already done so.
Hi, Dr. Jill -
Thanks for the information. Perlita weighs 72 lbs, actually, so am I right in figuring she can have up to 9.5 aspirin twice a day? What side effects should I look for, and would they be reversible if I stop the aspirin right away? Perla has always had poor conformation - big round body on little pipestem legs and is now paying so dearly for it. Could it actually dislocate? And what then?
Yes, 9.5 to 10 adult aspirin twice a day would be the dosage. You might try that for a couple days and see how she does...if she's more comfortable you can then try once a day or slightly decreasing the dosage to find a lower level that still helps or giving it to her in rounds (a few days on, a few days off). Side effects can include gastrointestinal ulcers (would see lethargy, lack of appetite, and might see blood in the feces making them black and tarry) along with liver or kidney damage. It also acts as a mild blood thinner. Since it sounds like she's pretty painful, might be worth the risk of side effects. You would definitely want to stop the aspirin immediately if you saw any signs of problems...gi ulcers can heal and she can recover some from liver or kidney damage, but would depend on how much damage was already done.
Too bad about her conformation...yea...frustrating now to have to deal with :(. I'm making a guess that she probably has arthritis (bone production in the joint) causing the pain and lack of mobility...if that's the case, it's actually more likely that she would chip pieces of that proliferative bone off into the joint (or she could have already) causing more pain and inflammation (joints don't like objects floating around in them). Dislocation would be more likely if she's got a soft tissue injury and lack of muscle mass protecting joints (which could be part of the issue as well). It can turn into a downward spiral of pain leading to lack of mobility leading to loss of muscle leading to increased lack of mobility...etc, etc.
On the homeopathic front, lots of linaments promote blood flow to areas and can help with pain and inflammation. I believe devil's claw is another homeopathic anti-inflammatory...but not a homeopathy expert so don't quote me on that :).
Thanks, Dr. Jill - I think you're hitting the nail on the head when you say "lack of muscle mass protecting joints." Perla was always been the least active of our goats despite our efforts to get her to take walks w/ us, play, etc. Thanks for your help - if you have any further ideas, I'm all ears. BTW, you can see some me & my goat friends on my author website, www.goblinfarm.net. Thanks again, and I hope it's ok for me to ask more questions if they arise.
Glad I could be of some help! Great pictures of the animals, and looks like very interesting plot lines for the children's books! After a question is completed you can always come back online to ask additional questions. If you have any specific requests for individuals or people knowledgeable about a specific thing, adding info to the question title helps. Best of luck!
6 years of veterinary experience with horses, domestic livestock, and camelids