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Dan C., DVM
Dan C., DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1174
Experience:  Equine Practitioner. Owner of Mobile Equine/Large Animal Practice for 16 years.
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My goat is shivering and lethargic. Thought he was bloated

Customer Question

Customer: My goat is shivering and lethargic. Thought he was bloated three days ago and gave him vegetable oil then baking soda. Still not himself. Have not taken his temp.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: He does not stay with the other goats. His breathing seems fine. His right side is larger than his left but is not firm.
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Customer: Yes
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Still busy?
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Greetings, and thank you for the question. It seems that Dr. B. is unavailable at this time, so I’d like to help you if I may.

Sorry to hear about your goat’s current condition. I have a few questions that I need to ask you so that we can get to the cause of your goat’s discomfort.

1): Is he neutered?

2): When was he last de-wormed, and do you remember which product was used?

3): Have you noticed him urinate lately, or have you noticed if he is straining to either defecate or urinate?

4): What does his living environment consist of (stall, open pasture, outdoor pen, etc.)?

5): Is he eating and drinking?

6): Is there any way you can get his temperature?

7): What is his age and breed?

Thanks, ***** *****’m looking forward to hearing from you.

-Dan C., DVM

Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hello again! Just needed to let you know that I need to be away from the site for about an hour. I’ll be looking for your replies when I return!

-Dan C., DVM

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. Yes
2. I feed my goats pine needles for worms.
3. I have not seen him do neither.
4. He lives in a barn with 12 other goats
5. He eats and drinks a little from what I seen. His belly looks to be full.
6. I will try tomorrow. (Temp)
7. He is 3 years old and is a pigmy goat about 50 to 60 lbs.
I was just at the barn and he seem to be a little better. This has been going on since the 25th. I gave him a aspirin.
Thanks Mitch
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mitch, thanks for getting back to me and for your responses. Very helpful!

Based on what you have told me, I would be suspect of several possibilities: firstly, it is not uncommon this time of year, (and especially with whethers) for them to experience a blockage of the urinary tract. This is normally caused by stones formed in the urinary bladder, and often, only one will become lodged in the tip of the penis, as it is a very small opening. I work with a lot of goats, and unfortunately I see this condition quite often. If it is not addressed, it can be fatal. It often starts with minor generalized discomfort, and you will often see straining, which some people confuse with the goat being constipated. Some goats will only be partially blocked, while others will get a complete blockage. My suggestion for attempting to check this condition out would be to feel the end of his prepuce (right at the hole where the penis would come out), and see if you can feel any moisture in the hair at that area. It is normally somewhat moist with urine. It shouldn’t be completely dry. Other signs of a blockage are an overall worsening of the goat feeling bad, which includes lying down, moaning, grinding of the teeth ( a pain response), and refusing any food or water. Hopefully if this is the case, he won’t get to this point. Something else that you can do is to try to feel the penis within the prepuce (the end is about midway within the prepuce) and apply a mildly firm squeeze at the tip of the penis. This is where a stone will often lodge, and at times it will be fairly painful (but not always…)! Keep a close eye on him for urination, or any of the other things I’ve mentioned. If anything is suspect, it’s best to get Veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY!

Another possibility could be internal parasites. There are numerous types of worms and other organisms (one amoeba-type of parasite is called “Coccidia”, which normal de-wormers won’t take care of, and is very common, especially in wet weather). I would strongly suggest that you have a fecal sample analyzed by your Vet. If you don’t have a large animal Vet, a small animal clinic should be able to run a fecal test for you, fairly inexpensively. I would recommend doing this as soon as possible, just to get the possibility ruled out. If parasites are present, the Veterinarian should be able to direct you as to which type of parasites are present, and which would be the best treatment.

In both of these cases, you can often see a mild bloating.

One other possibility would be a condition known as “rumen acidosis”, where the rumen becomes too acidic ( low pH) to do it’s job. Often, the best way to remedy this is to dissolve some regular baking soda in some warm water, and carefully squirt it down his mouth, but slowly, so he doesn’t inhale any of the liquid. For a pygmy goat, I’d recommend dissolving about ¼ cup of baking soda into ½ cup warm water. You can use either a regular syringe or something like a turkey baster to administer the solution. Even if the rumen isn’t acidotic, this won’t hurt to try.

Lastly, I am glad that he seems to be feeling somewhat better. I’m hoping he will continue to do so and that I’ve just typed all of this for your informational purposes only! Aspirin is fine to give goats, just be sure it isn’t Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

But please do check what I’ve described above, especially getting a fecal sample analyzed and examining the prepuce and watching for urination or straining. You can’t see worms in the manure with the naked eye, it has to be processed in a specific way, and what is seen under the microscope are actually the worm eggs, not the worms themselves.

I do hope that I’ve been of some help to you, and please don’t hesitate to get back to me if you have any further questions. And please, if you have the time, let me know how he is doing. I do this because I care and want to help in the best way that I can, and I always like to know how my online “patients” are feeling.

Many thanks, ***** ***** of New Years to you and your family! -Dan C., DVM

Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

P.S.: My apologies for the delay, Mitch. I was called out for an emergency and just got back to get you your response. Thanks for your understanding.

Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mitch. How’s your goat doing this morning? Did you have any further questions?

Thanks again,

Dan C., DVM

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I took Marlin to the vet yesterday. He had a fever of 103.2. She checked for the urinary issues mentioned above and found no problems. She felt he was descended. She recomended bloat treatment, penicillin bp two shots per day for five days, and flumeglumine for discomfort. I just gave him his fourth penicillin shot. He is still dumpy and shivering.
Thanks Mitch
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Your thoughts?
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for getting back t me Mitch. I just got in for the day and saw your reply.

A few questions: Is Marlin eating? Urinating and defecating? Has there been ANY improvement with his current treatment that you’re aware of? Penicillin and Banamine (flumeglumine) are not particularly what I would recommend for bloat. Did your Vet pass a stomach tube into his rumen?

Did your Vet do a fecal analysis???

Awaiting your reply.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dan,1. No she did not pass a stomach tube.
2. No fecal analysis.
He seemed to perk up for a while after the vet visit but it was probably because of the Banamine. I have not seen him urinate or defecate. I plan on cleaning his pen this afternoon down to the cement so I can see any signs of bodily functions. I need to run into town and purchase a thermometer. His condition has not changed since 12/25/15.
Do you think I should try worming him? My plan was to give him baking soda and yogurt this afternoon if the consensus still is bloat.
Your thoughts.Mitch
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mitch:

One of the first things that I do if I suspect a bloat is to pass a stomach tube. As you know, bloat is caused by excess gas in the rumen, which is obstructed in some way from naturally releasing. A tube will often release the gas, but there are different types of bloat. One is called frothy bloat, which is caused by an accumulation of gas bubbles, and that can’t be relieved with a stomach tube. There is an over the counter product called “Thera-Bloat” which can be given orally to help break up those gas bubbles. Wouldn’t hurt to try, but based on everything you have told me so far, I personally don’t think its bloat. If it’s a true bloat, the goat will have difficulty breathing, and the size of the abdomen will increase to the point that it can get as firm as a basketball! If you thump it with your fingers, there will be a definite “ping” sound, just as if you were snapping on an inflated ball.

Its unfortunate your Vet didn’t do a fecal analysis, so you don’t have to guess if this is a parasite problem or not. Deworming won’t hurt, but as I said previously, there are different types of internal parasites and some respond to the common goat dewormers (Safegard or Panacur), while the Coccidia are resistant to that. They require a product called “Corid”, which is also available over the counter. Dosage for Corid for treatment is 2.5cc per 50 pounds given orally once daily for ten days. There is a liquid form of Safegard for goats, and the directions are on the bottle. Treat the goat once, then repeat the treatment in ten days. Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to do both of these, it would just be nice to know if parasites are indeed the problem.

Also, the baking soda and yogurt wouldn’t hurt either, especially if Marlin hasn’t been eating.

So again, it wouldn’t hurt Marlin to do all of the treatments, it would just be nice to know exactly what it is that you’re treating! A temperature of 103.2 is a low-grade fever for a goat. It also could have possibly been caused by the stress from the trip, or even by his shivering! But do get the thermometer so you can keep track of that.

Let me know what you decide to do, and how Marlin is doing as well. Is there any possible way you could drop off a fecal sample at your Vet’s clinic? Or would that have to wait until tomorrow? Either way, if you can do that, it would be extremely helpful. Just be sure to get a fresh sample before you deworm him (if he is passing any manure, that is…). You can also put on an exam glove (or no glove at all if you’re not squeamish…) with a bit of lube on your finger and see if you can get a sample that way. It’s also a good way to tell if he’s producing manure, as you should be able to feel some in his rectum. Just go slow and be careful so you don’t hurt him.

I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you again, and if you have more questions, let me know!


Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hello! Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be offline for an hour or so. Been called out for an emergency. I’ll be checking for your response as soon as I return.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I checked on Marlin this evening. He was standing in his pen. I felt his belly and it did not feel hard and he was not shivering. I returned later to give him some yogurt. I felt his sides when he was lying down and they seemed tight like you described. He seemed to be a little distressed.
I have given him two dosed of bloat treatment since the 1st. Sure wish we could determine if it is bloat we are dealing with. Should I try to tube him? How long does the tube need to stay in his stomach?Thanks Mitch
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mitch.

It’s not uncommon for a goat to feel bloated when lying down. Many people mistake this for bloat, when it’s just normal due to the pressure on the abdomen from the belly pressing on the ground. Was he having any difficulty breathing at any time? If he felt normal when he was standing, that’s what you can rely on. A bloated goat will be very distended when standing, and will be breathing hard and rapidly. Have you noticed any urine or manure yet?


Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Also, if you haven’t tubed before, I wouldn’t recommend trying it on your own. It’s a bit of a trick to bypass the trachea and get into the esophagus down to the rumen. IF a goat has a gas bloat, the gas will expel almost immediately once the tube has entered the rumen, and it will be noticeable (both smell and gas) if you are holding the end of the tube up to your nose. Not exactly pleasant, but necessary!

Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 1 year ago.

Good Morning, Mitch:

How’s Marlin doing today?