Ruminant animals such as goats can get bloat when the gases are unable to escape through their natural digestive process. Bloat is fast acting illness that can lead to fatality within hours if left untreated. This illness is not discriminant and affects goats of all ages.
It is important to identify which type of bloat your goat is experiencing as each type requires specialized treatment. We will help you identify this as well as how to treat your goat at home without a vet with our at home remedies.
We also cover preventative measures to minimize the likelihood of your goats getting bloat again.
Table of Contents
What is Bloat?
Goats are ruminants, which means they have 4 (four) chambers in their stomach that ferments their food. When goats eat the food quickly goes to the rumen. Cud comes back up for them to chew and pass back to the rumen for fermentation.
As part of this process, goats pass gas through belching as they digest their food releasing the fermentation. Bloat (ruminal tympany) is the disruption to this cycle when the gasses form tiny bubbles, and they are unable to pass them.
Symptoms of Bloat
Exact symptoms will vary depending on how severe the case of bloat is. Goats typically experience more symptoms as the illness quickly progresses.
Abdomen Sounds Hollow When Tapped
Extended left side (significantly further than the right side)
Lack of Appetite
Lack of Fever
Refusing to Walk or Move
When our goat experienced bloat we had a difficult time initially diagnosing him, as he did not fit all of the symptoms. What is important to remember is you know your animal better than the internet.
For us, early signs of bloat were the lack of a fever, constant bleating, obvious discomfort, constant laying down, and refusal to eat. Lack of appetite is particularly odd as he is our most food centered goat and he refused treats.
While walking can help goats with bloat, he was too uncomfortable to attempt this method.
What Causes Bloat in Goats?
There are two main types of bloat, Choke and Free Gas Bloat and Frothy Bloat. They each require different treatment and preventative measures.
Frothy Bloat is the most common type of bloat and caused by a rapid change to a goat's PH due to diet. This creates a foamy slime that coats gas and seals it in the rumen.
The changes to diet can be:
Goats that are gluttons are prone to this.
Overeating spring greenery after a winter of grain and feed.
Eating an abundance of legumes, alfalfa or clover, most common in the spring.
Switching Food too Quickly
Frothy bloat can be prevented through a variety of measures:
Eating grain produces bicarbonate which can increase PH.
Hay should not account for more than 1/3 of a goat diet.
Plant non bloating grains and grasses
Switch food slowly by incorporating slightly larger portions of the new food over a 7 to 10 day period.
The buildup of gas will put pressure on goats' heart and lungs, so it is important to act quickly. You can treat bloat with items you have in your kitchen, or from a nearby store such as Rural Kind or Tractor Supply.
Alcohol Ethoxylate Detergent is best used for bloat due to gain as it is more effective than other treatments.
Antifoaming Treatment such as Durvet Bloat Treatment is highly effective and can be administered via drenching (syringes orally). If your goat won't swallow, it is important not to force it.
This is the method we used when our Nigerian Dwarf, Rocket fell ill and for $10, we were able to save him even after 12 hours of discomfort. He was back to normal within a few short hours. There's a reason this incredible medicine has made it onto our must have goat owner essentials list!
Baking Soda Water can be administered via syringe orally to reduce gas. Simply add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to water and administer.
Mineral Oil can be administered via a stomach tube only! If administered via drench the oil will go to the goats' lungs and cause additional issues. Mineral oil is slow acting similar to vegetable oil and needs to be given early in the illness.
Stomach tubes can allow a break in the coating of froth and for the gas to escape. If you have not used this method before we recommend you call a vet or try one of the other methods
Vegetable Oil can be administered orally via a syringe. Note this is a slow acting method and would need to be used early on in the illness.
Choke and Free Gas Bloat
Choke Bloat is caused by an obstruction in the esophagus that prevents gas from escaping in the normal digestive process. Obstructions can range from something the goat ate like a bag or a carrot, to health conditions such as inflammation or a tumor.
The best prevention from Choke Bloat is ensuring there are no foreign objects the goat may try to eat, and that food is in small enough pieces it does not pose a choking hazard. Foods such as apples and carrots are the most common culprits.
Additionally, regularly watching and checking your herd for any unusual behavior that may be an indication of an illness helps to quickly identify early signs of health conditions.
If possible, carefully free the blockage. In some cases, you can feel a bulge on their neck, you may be able to massage obstruction down. However, we do strongly recommend removing the obstruction completely.
If these methods do not remove the obstruction, a vet may or caretakers with experience using stomach tubes can safely one down the esophagus to clear the airway.
What if My Goat Has Had Bloat For Several Days?
If symptoms and extended abdomen persist for several days, then it is not bloat. It is likely parasites which can consume nutrients, leaving goats feeling very hungry. It is best to regularly worm goats to ensure they do not have parasites.
What Not to Do (Laundry Detergent)
Under no circumstances should you give your goat laundry detergent if you suspect bloat!
Decades ago, when laundry detergent did not have as many chemicals as it does today, this was a viable solution. However, many ingredients in detergent these days are not safe for human or animal consumption.
The buildup of gas due to bloat will put pressure on goats' heart and lungs, so it is important to act quickly.
There are two types of bloat, but both can be treated at home if caught early enough with a few simple ingredients from your kitchen.
For more supplies we have on hand for happy and healthy goats check our our supplies list!
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