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Guideline for Goat Illnesses: Causes, Cures & Prevention

goat illnesses

Are you wondering how to cure goat illnesses?

Unfortunately, there are several types of illnesses to which goats are vulnerable.

Many people believe that goats are resilient animals, but this isn’t always the case. Even though they have a natural ability to fight off illness and disease, sometimes there is nothing we can do but let nature take its course.

This article will teach you how to care for a goat when it has fallen ill.

If you follow these guidelines, your animal should be on the mend in no time!

goat illnesses

What is Making My Goat Sick?

If you aren’t quite sure what’s making your goat sick, that will be your first step in helping it heal.

Please take a look at our comprehensive article on the most common goat diseases and sicknesses here. This will help you pinpoint your goat’s symptoms to a potential cause.

Some of the most common goat diseases include:

  • Bloat
  • Coccidia
  • Tetanus
  • Pneumonia
  • Caseous Lymphadenitis
  • Anemia
  • Scrapie
  • Enterotoxemia
  • Parasite problems

Once you know what is causing your goat to feel under the weather, you can take steps to treat the disease and get her back in tip-top shape in no time.

goat illnesses

Figuring Out What’s Causing Your Goat Illnesses

If you aren’t sure what’s causing your goat to be sick, you should follow these simple steps.

First, take the goat’s temperature. You can use a digital thermometer from any store.

It would help if you usually took the temperature via the rectum, with normal temperatures being between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do a thorough examination of your goat, asking the following questions:

  • Does it have a cough or runny nose?
  • Are the lower eyelids pale (if they are, this could indicate heavy parasite loads, as per the FAMACHA scale)?
  • My goat is too thin or bloated in any way?
  • The goat isn’t eating okay?
  • Is the goat mobile?
  • Mother goat feeding her kids?
  • Is she limping?
  • Is she isolated from the rest of the herd, laying down too much, or shivering?


You should also take the time to inspect the manure, if possible. Normal goat poop is pelletized, but if it’s runny, it could indicate several issues.

Note that runny poop can be normal, too – but runny poop combined with other symptoms is usually problematic.

Be prepared to gather the fecal sample. It’s best to get a diagnosis from a vet if you are concerned that your goat is sick.

If you’re raising goats, it’s good practice to have the number of a trusted vet on hand at all times.


13 Tips on How to Help With Goat Illnesses

Your first step in treating a sick goat should always be to get the advice and help of a vet. Don’t try to treat your goat on your own, especially if you don’t have a positive diagnosis.

A vet can prescribe medicine, like antibiotics, to help your goat heal if necessary.

If you have a diagnosis and medication is unnecessary, and you are looking for alternative treatments, here are a few options.

1. Deworm

Because the vast majority of goat health problems are related to parasitic infestations, your first step in treating a sick goat should be to deworm it.

Depending on where you live and the overall health of your goats, you may find that you need to deworm as often as every two weeks.

If you’ve fallen behind on this schedule, deworming is a good first step.

It’s important to note that even if you use a powerful chemical dewormer, it won’t necessarily take care of the symptoms of the infestation right away.

It will get rid of the parasites, but it may take additional time and other supplements to cure any lingering anemia or other sickness related to the infestation.

After Deworming, be sure to rotate your goats to fresh pastures, so they don’t reinfect themselves with the worms.

2. Try Natural Dewormers

If you don’t want to administer a chemical dewormer, know that there are plenty of natural remedies you can try if your goat is sick.

Garlic is one option. It is not only good at clearing out small quantities of worms but can also treat infections (including those that are viral or bacterial in nature).

It is an immune booster in goats, just as it is in humans.

Molasses is another item you can feed your goats. It isn’t necessarily a good dewormer, but it’s high in other nutrients.

It can help make the feed more palatable and digestible, something necessary if your goat is sick and not eating enough.

You can also introduce probiotics. Milk kefir has more probiotics than yogurt and can help improve your goat’s overall digestive health.

This is essential if your goat suffers from a heavy parasite load or some other type of infection.

3. What to Feed Goats When They Are Suffering Goat Illnesses?

What have you been feeding your goats? Sometimes, if your goats are feeling less than 100%, upgrading their nutrition is a great way to help them overcome the sniffles.

Check that your goats are well-hydrated and have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. The average goat needs a minimum of a gallon of water per day.

Free-choice hay, a good mineral supplement, and additional grain can be lifesaving for a sick goat.

Mineral supplementation is one important thing to pay attention to. All mineral deficiencies, but especially copper, can leave goats vulnerable to a variety of parasites.

4. Clear Out Poisonous Plants

Check your pastures to make sure they aren’t loaded with poisonous plants. These can make goats sick, and they don’t always have the common sense not to eat them.

Ensure you don’t have spider lily, nightshade, lupine, rock poppy, larkspur, or other toxic plants growing nearby. Also, make sure the grain is locked up so your goats can’t get to it and overdo it.

5. What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Goats & Goat Illnesses?

You can make a tincture of apple cider vinegar, which will help deworm animals and help provide them with a healthy dose of probiotics to improve their digestive health.

Often, this can clear out parasites as well as any other infections that might be lurking within.

In particular, apple cider vinegar is high in potassium, which can improve blood flow. Some studies suggest that it might prevent kidney stones and urinary calculi.

Of course, when added to a water supply, it can reduce algae growth and prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

6. Colostrum

If you’re trying to address sickness in young kids, it could be that they need more colostrum (if they were born within the last few days).

If your kids seem to be failing to thrive, make sure they’re getting colostrum from the mother or a supplement that you bottle or syringe feed to them.

7. Kidding Complications Can Cause Goat Illnesses

There are natural remedies you can try for complications related to kidding, too. Make sure your doe is healthy – you can give her a supplement like a nettle and raspberry leaf, which will help her uterus contract and shorten her labor time.

They can also improve her milk supply.

Make sure your doe is wormed and that she has plenty of access to water and minerals, too.

8. Treating Mastitis

You can treat mastitis with Bag Balm rubbed on the udders (peppermint oil can also help).

Although you may need antibiotics in extreme cases, you can treat some minor swelling with natural herbs like sage and peppermint.

Though these can dry up the milk, so don’t use them unless the doe is ready to wean her kids.

9. Healing Respiratory Ailments

You can treat minor respiratory ailments in goats with things like peppermint, echinacea, horehound, garlic, and taheebo. Ginger is another good option.

10. Remedies for Diarrhea

If your goat has diarrhea, your primary concern should be to ensure he gets enough food and water to avoid becoming dehydrated or lethargic.

Antibiotics and dewormers are often necessary, but in the meantime, they treat the irritated digestive tract and restore natural functioning with things like yogurt, molasses, and apple cider vinegar.

11. Natural Wound Treatments

You can treat even wounds with natural treatments. A spray like Blu-Kote or Red-Kote can help seal the area.

You can also use a mixture of calendula, echinacea, tea tree oil, aloe vera juice, and apple cider vinegar to disinfect the wound and help it heal. 

Mix these ingredients, put them in a spray bottle, and lightly spray the area a few times a day. This can prevent additional infection.

12. B-12

When a goat goes off its feed because it is sick, it can be difficult to get enough nutrients and electrolytes into it.

Using a B-12 supplement, administered with a drench gun, is one of the best ways to encourage your goat to eat.

In rare cases, stomach feeding tubes might be necessary until a goat starts eating again on its own – but you shouldn’t try these without the help of a vet.

OFten, providing a B-12 supplement (like Rooster Booster) is all you need to do.

13. Quarantine and Time to Heal Goat Illnesses

Most importantly, make sure you quarantine your goat and give it time to heal.

Now is not the time for roughhousing or competing for food, so it’s a good idea to give your sick goat a quiet, calm place to recover.

This is especially important if you are trying to help a goat suffering from a contagious disease – you don’t want the rest of your herd getting sick.

Can Goats Illnesses Get Humans Sick?

Most goat diseases are not transmissible to humans and are species-specific.

The only ones you need to watch out for include:

  • Caseous lymphadenitis (but transmission is exceedingly rare)
  • Brucellosis (spreads through contaminated milk or birthing fluids)
  • Coxiella fever (causes symptoms like fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain)
  • Toxoplasmosis (especially dangerous for pregnant women and most often contracted during kidding via birthing fluids)

Because of this (and because you might not always be positively sure about which diseases your goat has), it’s a good idea to only deal with a sick goat if you are wearing gloves and other protective gear.

That’s especially true if you are pregnant or immunocompromised.

goat illnesses

Emergency Supplies to Keep on Hand

As a goat owner, there are a few supplies you should always keep on hand. We mentioned several of these in the tips above, but if you want to be prepared for anything, be sure always to have:

  • A drench gun for administering medication and dewormers
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin B-12 complex
  • Sulfa meds for coccidiosis
  • Iron or red cell shots for anemia
  • Dewormers (options like Cydectin and Safeguard are good for goats)
  • Antibiotics (if recommended by a vet)
  • Hoof trimmers
  • Bag balm
  • Blu-Kote and Red-Kote (for wound dressing)
  • Syringes with needles
  • CD-T antitoxin and toxoid boosters and immediate action shots
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Molasses
  • Mineral supplement

goat illnesses

Sick Goat Won’t Get Up. What’s Wrong?

When your sick goat won’t get up, there could be several things wrong with them. Hopefully, it is the easiest issue to fix, dehydration.

However, sadly it could be a combination of dehydration and some of the more serious problems: pneumonia, rumen issues, goat polio, or anemia.

That’s when a vet is required if you’ve ruled out dehydration. If that’s the case give them a call and they will talk about what to do next.

How Do You Stop a Goat From Getting Sick?

There are countless ways you can prevent your goats from getting sick. In fact, in most cases, proper herd management is far more effective than trying to treat problems as they pop up.

Rotate your goats to fresh pastures as often as possible. This will limit the build-up of parasites in the fields (and also ensure a healthier, faster-growing field).

Keep the feed locked up so your goats don’t eat more than they need, and let them enjoy free-choice minerals, water, and hay year-round.

Proper nutrition is often the best thing you can do to keep your goats healthy.

Making sure you administer vaccines, dewormers, and other medications in a timely fashion can help prevent the vast majority of goat diseases, too.

So when it comes to understanding how to cure a goat of sickness, remember – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Follow these tips, and you’ll have healthy animals 365 days of the year – we aren’t kidding around!

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Goat Illnesses

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