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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
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Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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I have baby goats ready to dehorn. What can I give for pai

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I have baby goats ready to dehorn. What can I give for pain
Thank you for your question and for being concerned about pain management for these wee kids.

Dehorning is quite a painful procedure but often a necessary one for this species. In regards XXXXX XXXXX that would minimize the pain that they encountered during the procedure, there are 3 levels of addressing this. This includes giving a general anesthesia (often with the others used as well), using a nerve block, or at least administering goat safe pain relief.

The ability to perform a general anesthetic for your wee one will depend on who is carrying out the procedure. If your vet is involved, then this may be a route you can use and they can direct you on how to minimize pain and distress for your wee ones.

Alternatively, we have the nerve block. This is where a local anesthetic is injected into the nerve (the cornual nerve block for disbudding) to numb the area so that the pain cannot be felt during the procedure (similar to local that dentists may use to numb your mouth). An outline on how to perform a Cornual Block can be found here. (Just to note, in kids we tend to use 0.5% lidocaine rather then the 2% we use in adults.) If you haven't done a nerve block before, then you might consider having your vet help you with these guys so they can teach you how to do it for future kids.

If the above are not options, then goat safe pain relief would be a final option here to at least dull dehorning pain and minimize post-procedure pain afterwards.The medications we tend to use for this type of analgesia are in the family of anti-inflammatory medications. These tend not to be as strong as local anesthetics, but the pain relieving effects last longer. These drugs work to limit the tissue's inflammatory response to the dehorning's traumatic effect on the body. This then decreases pain and when given before the procedure can decrease hypersensitivity of the kid to pain. If you should be administered <1 hour prior to the dehorn (to give it time to take effect).

Examples of goat safe anti-inflammatories that could be used in this situation would be Meloxicam, Flunixin or Ketoprofen. (Please note that while some people do use aspirin in goats for pain relief, this should not be used in this situation. It is poor pain relief at the best of times but also has the side effect of thinning blood. This means that the kids could bleed more readily and the drug can impair their clotting ability).

So, as you can see these are our options for addressing this situation and for keeping these wee ones as pain free as possible. Hopefully, you will be able to undertake one of these options and keep this from being a terrible experience for these impressionable little ones.

I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.

All the best,

Dr. B.


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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Tky,I picked up a bottle of 2% lidocaine from the vet. But have no instructions. Can you give me simple instructions on how and where to give shots. The dosage for mini Nubians aprox. 8lbs and the waiting period. Rose

Hi again,

That is a shame they didn't outline how to perform the block there, since it is much easier to outline in person (especially if they can point and show you exactly where on the kid's head, if you know what I mean). If they haven't done so, then the best thing to do is refer to the link I provided previously and also check the diagram and information on local anesthesia on the 6th page of this article (LINK). As you can see there are two branches we are blocking. The first is the cornual branch of the lacrimal nerve, and we put our local anesthesia half way between the lateral canthus of the eye and the lateral horn base. For the cornual branch of the indratrochlear nerve, we inject the local anesthetic at the point half way between the medial canthus of the eye and medial horn base.


And again remember that since these are wee kids you need to be able to dilute this 2% solution to a 0.5% solution (use sterile water to dilute one part lidocaine to 3 parts water to get a 0.5% solution) and then just use a milliliter total per kid for their blocks. We don't want to use a straight 2% on them at this size, since 2ml+ would be an overdose for their weight.

If you are struggling with this, do consider having the vet do one of the kids for you while you watch. It would be the most straightforward way to learn the technique if you haven't done it before, and being confident in this technique is a life long skill and investment for your herd.

Dr. B.

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Hi again,
Just one more little guide for you here
-Dr. B.

Hi Rose,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?