How to tell if your goat is sick

By Laura Sherman for Caprine Outing 2002

Watch for changes in each goat as well as deviations from the rest of the herd.

  • Diarrhea! constipation (esp. in kids)
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Vomiting
  • Nasal/ocular discharge
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Abnormal swelling or bleeding especially
  • around the jaw, throat, ears, shoulders, knees, udder, and hooves
  • Paralysis
  • Shock

Signs and Symptoms

  • Drastic decline in milk production
  • Loss of appetite and fluid intake
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Excessive thirst
  • Restlessness
  • Change in responsiveness or attitude
  • Abnormal stance or walk
  • Rough, dull coat
  • Hair loss

If veterinary assistance is necessary, be ready to describe all observable signs.

Temperature outside of normal range (l01.5-104F) (> 106 or <100)
Heart rate and regularity (unsteady, weak)
Breathing rate and regularity (labored, rapid, coughing)
Cud chewing! rumen function (sounds, distension, apparent pain)
Lymph nodes (swollen)
Eyes (cloudy, infected)

Basic First Aid Kit

Thermometer, scissors, scalpel blades, 7% iodine (newborn umbilical cords), tamed iodine
(wounds), cotton, gauze pads, vet wrap, udder ointment, plastic syringes, needles, wormers, stomach tube, topical antibiotic, alcohol, Pepto-Bismol, molasses

Reference literature

Raising Healthy Goats Under Primitive Conditions. By R.A. Vanderhoof. Christain Veterinary Mission. Box 33000 Seattle, Washington 98133
The Merck Veterinary Manual. Merck and Co., Inc. Rahway, NJ.
Goat Medicine. By MC Smith and DM Sherman. 1994. Lea and Febiger. Philadelphia.