Pneumonia in Goats

When we were first researching goats, the #1 warning that we heard everywhere is that they’re VERY prone to respiratory issues. They evolved to survive in arid climates and don’t handle humidity or dramatic temperature swings well.

That’s why, when we had a week of rain with 40-50 degree rises and drops in temps, we were on high alert. If we hadn’t been, we might not have caught the pneumonia in time. We still might not have.

Please note that we are not medical experts and the following should in no way be considered medical advice. We always recommend consulting a veterinarian. What we did below was in cooperation with our (amazing) livestock vet.

Pneumonia hit our herd.

As soon as the weather got weird, most of the goats started coughing and sneezing. We began closely monitoring everyone and checking temps of the most suspicious-looking ones every day.

The first to get a fever was Midnight Love, one of our newest doelings. We immediately called the vet, and he prescribed Draxxin. The dosage is 1cc per 100lbs SQ once and then the same dose once again after 7 days, if symptoms persist. Pneumonia is one of the top two killers of goats, and even most holistic keepers advise hitting it hard with antibiotics if you want any hope of keeping them alive.

Just a warning: If you find yourself in a situation where you need to use Draxxin, please be aware that it HURTS – it makes even our most stoic goats scream and writhe in pain. We were not prepared for that!

We treated Midnight right away, along with the other kids who looked even remotely sick. Baby goats are generally hit the first and the worst by pneumonia. We (stupidly) decided to watch and wait with the rest of the herd, giving everyone daily rose hips and echinacea to boost their vitamin C and immunity. We even gave Bovi-Sera to some of them, after hearing such great things about it.

One by one, all of our goats started to fall ill.

We went out and saw Ron standing with his eyes half closed, white snot running from his nose and green foam pooling out of the right side of his mouth, and his tongue hanging out the left side. We immediately gave him Draxxin and Vitamin B Complex – that perked him up, for now.

A few days later, itty bitty Petunia, our tiniest doeling, was hit. We hadn’t heard her coughing or sneezing at all and had been the least worried about her, so we hadn’t given her the antibiotic when we did the other kids. When we went to do one of our routine checks, she was bloated up like a little basketball. At first, we thought maybe it was Clostridium, so we did the at-home treatment for that (Therabloat, baking soda, Clostridium antitoxin, massage, walking). After about a half hour when there was no improvement and she was still just standing there groaning with every breath, we called the emergency vet. He checked her and determined that pneumonia had inflamed the nerve that controls her rumen, which had essentially shut it off. He gave her a massive dose of Draxxin, penicillin, and an anti-inflammatory med. After a few more terrifying hours of burping her and making sure she wasn’t laying down too long, she finally released the bloat and started acting more normal again.

The very next day (yesterday), it was Honey. She had had a dry cough here and there for the past week, but no fever. She’s always been standoffish, both with us humans and the other goats, so seeing her hanging out in a corner didn’t really seem out of the ordinary. But yesterday, she started panting and wheezing. Every breath was a painful struggle. We hit her with Draxxin and Banamine and she seems a little bit better now, but definitely not out of the woods yet. We will continue Banamine and Vitamin B Complex for a couple days.

Those have been the worst cases so far, but almost everyone has ended up with rattly breathing, a runny nose, and/or a cough for almost 4 weeks now.

Draxxin for everyone.

We hate doing it, but on the advice of our vet, we are giving EVERYONE the antibiotic today. We can’t risk losing any of these guys and even if they survive, their lungs might be permanently damaged once infected.

Some people advise quarantining sick animals, but both of our herds that are separated by 20+ feet of space fell ill at the same time, so we have not pulled anyone for fear of stressing them even more.

Ugh.

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