Goat Medicine: why does it differ so much from the veterinary medicine of other ‘similar’ creatures? I mentioned this briefly in one of my Instagram posts, which sparked many people to request a longer explanation. I could write for days, but instead I want to focus on a few key reasons as to why goats require different healthcare than other animals. Every animal species is an individual—but plenty of general knowledge can relate to many of them, such as wound care. But where are goats’s medical needs different from other creatures?
I’ve chosen three very important examples which can provide a better understanding of goat medicine. Whether you’ve had trouble caring for your goats, had a bad experience with a veterinarian, or are a veterinarian yourself looking to stay up-to-date on what farmers have to say, this is just the beginning of the conversation on goat medicine. For anyone new to the site, I am not a veterinarian or a doctor; I am a farmer, goat owner, science enthusiast, and forever student of all aspects of progressive goat care. I am also a goat care mentor, with a specific focus on natural goat care—my goal is to always work synergistically with the goat’s body and never against it. With that being said, here are my top three examples of how goat medicine differs from other veterinary medicine:
The Goat Rumen
Having a complex gut microbiome doesn’t come without complications. The giant ‘vat of fermentation’ that is the rumen is an extremely sensitive gut environment. Due to this, whenever a goat’s body is under stress from any illness, injury, etc., it is pivotal to care for the gut just as much as you would the initial problem at hand. Most other creatures do not have the sensitive, carefully balanced gut environment that goats do. In fact, I often include some rumen-favorites like Probios Gel, Dark Beer, Apple Cider Vinegar, and more, when treating almost any ailment in goats, even ones seemingly unrelated. One of which being Listeriosis—a problem I assist with frequently as a mentor, and one that has one of the worst prognoses under veterinary care of goat illnesses (based on personal observations and reports and thoughts from veterinary professionals who have treated it). In treating Listeriosis in clients’ goats, I have observed clearer improvement in goats receiving rumen support (most notably, dark beer) than vice versa. When treating a goat for any one medical problem, the goat must be observed and treated as a whole—I have never seen full body, supportive measures so important in treatments as it is in goats.
Goats and Antibiotics
Goats and antibiotics—a hefty topic. Just as I discussed rumen sensitivity above, it’s important to note that goat bodies react to antibiotics differently than dogs, cats, horses, etc., because an antibiotic (anti-bacteria), can cause problems in the bacteria microbiome of the gut – which is ever-so-carefully balanced. For this reason, many antibiotics that are given orally to dogs & cats should not be given to goats. Instead, injectable antibiotics should be used to help mitigate any negative effect on the rumen. But, that’s not the only important thing to remember about antibiotics and goats. Studies have shown that goats deplete antibiotics in their body faster than other creatures, even their closely-related ruminant species: cows. When an antibiotic is present in an animal’s body for a shorter time before they metabolize it, we observe that resistance issues start to occur. If you give an animal an incomplete course of an antibiotic, then that antibiotic is subject to causing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Giving a goat an antibiotic at a dosage or rate meant for another creature creates the same effect, because their body depletes it so quickly. Thus, farmers have determined over many years, studying the patterns of antibiotics, observing goats, etc., how best to use each antibiotic for goats. Yep, that’s right, if you look at the most current, farmer-approved info, you’ll see specific doses and frequencies for antibiotics that show, based on observation, the dosages that help to ensure the best prognoses.
While this one probably has more to do with owner-caused issues than the goat species itself, deworming is an important topic of goat healthcare that also differs from deworming in other creatures. Why? Resistances. Whether it is due to improper dosing over time, frequent dosing, dosing of the incorrect dewormer, or simply genetic changes in parasites due to natural selection, goat parasites are some of the strongest, most resistant parasites we see in the animal community. For too long, the goat community has bred (accidentally) dewormer-resistant parasites. Now, we face a challenge of keeping chemical dewormers effective. How does this relate to goat healthcare in particular, as resistances can happen in any situation? It relates because right here, right now, not everyone responsible for the healthcare of goats has adjusted their viewpoint to understand that dewormers that have worked in the past do not work now. And goats are suffering from this, because their life/factors/parasites have changed and evolved, but the medical info has not.
Redefining Goat Care is what I’m here to talk to people about. While this post is only a small glimpse of goat medicine, I hope that all readers continue to learn, ask questions, and observe their goats and others to benefit the goat community. Redefining Goat Care, one step at a time.
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. Disclosure: This post may contain Amazon Affiliate Links, from which I will earn a commission.