Goat coughs can be caused by a number of different things. Respiratory issues are very common in goats. When one of my goats was a few months old, he developed a cough. This cough was unaccompanied by any other symptoms, and all we noticed was that he would cough 2-4 times in a row, and it was quite a dry, deep cough. He did it more often when eating, playing, or chewing his cud. We had a vet examine him to be sure that it wasn’t pneumonia; and he was perfectly healthy. The cough was able to be stimulated when our vet massaged his throat, and that also indicated that it was most likely an irritation, and not a sickness.
Although, we decided to treat him for both the potential allergy irritation, and to treat him for a respiratory illness. At the time, we were giving the goats an herbal supplement (will remained un-named), which contained an ingredient that we believe this goat was allergic to. After stopping the supplement, his cough lessened, but was still worrisome to us. We then started him on a rigorous garlic treatment, and within a week his cough was entirely gone.
I am still unsure as to what was affecting him, it might have been either an allergy or an actual respiratory issue. But with goats it is best to cover all of the bases if you can for treatment, especially with natural treatment.
CAUSES OF GOAT COUGHS:
Pneumonia/Respiratory Illnesses – if you suspect this, take the rectal temp of the goat and start on raw garlic. If the goat has a fever, treat for pneumonia (either rigorously with natural methods, or with proper antibiotics).
Lungworm – Lungworm is a parasite that effects the lungs. It can cause chronic coughs. There is a special fecal test called a Baermann fecal, you can get one done here: MeadowMist Lab Service
Allergies – Allergies can cause chronic coughs. If you have a mystery cough, try giving your goats a dose of Benadryl, which is an antihistamine that will quickly stop a cough if it is allergy-related. Keep in mind, Benadryl is NOT a treatment for allergy-related coughs, it is just a diagnostic tool for a quick answer. If it stops the cough, you must look into what is causing the allergy!
High Coccidia Loads – High loads of the protozoa Coccidia can cause coughs. Be sure to send in a standard fecal at the same time as the Baermann for lungworms.
There are many different questions that are always good to ask yourself when you observe a goat coughing, each answer can help lead you towards the cause of the cough. Here is a list of questions that may help figure out what is wrong with the goat in question. Compile all answers to these questions, and you might have a much better description and idea of the cough to share with a vet or to research for yourself. As a reminder, I am not a vet, (see disclaimer at the end of post) and I highly suggest you consult a veterinary professional if your goat(s) shows any signs of sickness.
1. When does the cough happen? (further questions regarding this in more detail below)
2. Is it wet?
3. Is your goat hacking or choking at all?
4. Does it sound like there is mucus?
5. Is there any raspy breathing or wheezing?
6. How often does the cough occur?
7. What is the duration of each cough? (multiple coughs at a time, just one short cough, one longer cough, a coughing fit, etc.)
8. Does it get worse when running, chewing cud, or eating?
9. Are there any dusty conditions, especially in hay or feed?
10. Is feed and hay free of mold?
11. What are your current/recent weather and pasture conditions? Wet pasture, warm and rainy, or cold and dry, cold and rainy, etc.
12. What is the goat(s) temperature?
13. How many goats are coughing?
14. How long has it been going on for?
Those are the 14 basic questions I would ask myself; although, there are many other questions to ask regarding overall health issues, and many other things you would look for when trying to decide what ailment a goat has.
All in all, coughs can vary, and giving yourself a good understanding of the particular cough with a detailed description can be very helpful for deciding on treatment options.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, nor am I a licensed professional. I am in no way a “goat expert” and my opinions are only that of personal experiences, and my insights shared are not medical treatment suggestions, care suggestions, or any directions for raising goats at all. I am simply sharing my own personal opinions. Any and all changes to your goats’ health regimen, care, etc. should be approved by a veterinary professional or licensed professional. I also believe that every goat owner has their own way of doing things, so just as my opinions are my own, and cannot apply to anyone else, your opinions are also regarding your individual goats, and I welcome you to share them in a kind, constructive manner.