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Goats/Older goat shows sign of illness


Hi Donna,

I've been scouring the Internet for information on symptoms that several of our older goats exhibit. They are all around 13 or 14 years old, and we recognize that they are nearing the end of their lives however, we want to make every day the best day. I've noticed some reoccurring symptoms that I'm hoping you can help identify. Even if there is not a cure, I want to know if there is a diagnosis.

- Loss of appetite: it's gradual but once they lose their appetite, they don't get it back. We try everything, all kind of goat 'treats' but nothing works. They'll nibble at hay but don't really eat. If they do nibble at food, it seems as if they don't have saliva or they can't chew it well and will even spit it out. There are no sores or any indication that their mouth or teeth have problems - it really just seems like they can't chew or process the food. Often they shake their head while they're trying to chew as if something is bothering them. Of course this leads to weight loss.

- Lack of energy, not part of the herd, lack of playfulness: granted, this is probably part of not eating and not having any energy. They remain social to their human family and come to us when we go to the farm to get petting and they love our attention. But they definitely don't act normal.

- The first sign that something is wrong is that we can feel their hip bones. It goes down hill from there.

- Shivering - they get the shivers and tremble even when it's warm

The first goat that went through this was treated with everything the vet could think of. We spent a lot of money #well worth it!!# and time trying to nurse him back to good health. Many things that I've read regarding nutrients, vitamins, etc and nothing worked.

I realize these guys are old. We've had them since they were babies and they have lived a very healthy, spoiled, long life. But these symptoms are troubling and I want to understand what's happening. When they are obviously not in good shape, the vet comes out and we very humanely put them to sleep. But it sucks and if there's anything we can do, we'll do it.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.

Hello - the one symptom that stands out is the shivering.  Generally that indicates either anemia or a fever/infection.  What type of feed regimen do you currently have them on?  What is the color of the lower inner eyelids?  Have they been wormed recently and, if so, what do you worm them with?  What does their poop look like?  Are they grinding their teeth at all?  Have you looked at their teeth, and, if so, do they have tooth loss or areas that may look decayed? Let me know the answers to the questions and I will get back to you with more information.  Thanks - Donna


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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