A runny or snotty nose foreshadows almost every oncoming ailment in goats.
Knowing that sickness or respiratory infections are taking hold allows you to take action quickly to stop them from progressing or becoming deadly.
Here are signs to look for, what may be causing the snotty nose, and how to treat runny noses in goats.
Causes of Runny or Snotty Goat Noses
Dust and Smoke
Dusty barns, dry lots, finely ground goat feed, crumbly straw, and dusty hay will cause goats to sneeze, cough, and have runny noses and eyes.
Remove dusty straw and replace it with fresh straw or large timber shavings. For dusty dry lots, you can add a bit of water.
Just make sure it is not enough to turn muddy.
As for hay and grain, please do your best to keep the goat from sticking its entire face into the hay (like the center of a round bale) and grind your next batch of feed to be less fine, or buy pelleted goat feed.
If hay is dusty, there is a decent chance of mold or mildew in it too. Ingesting mold or mildew is extremely dangerous for goats as it causes listeriosis, which is deadly.
If the hay is dry, mold-free, but simply old, you can spritz it lightly with water immediately before feeding it to the animals.
If you’re going to do this, make sure that it is all eaten within one feeding, so the mold and mildew are never given a chance to develop.
In the summer, we can get considerable smoke during the wildfire season.
People and pets all have difficulty breathing when outdoors, which causes watery eyes and dripping noses.
A wildfire broke out just a few miles west of our cabin, and it made the air thick with smoke in almost no time.
Ammonia will make eyes and noses run because it’s a health hazard.
Not only does it cause nasal discharge, but it also damages respiratory systems, especially the lungs of humans and animals.
If goats aren’t removed from the ammonia areas, they can develop several viral and bacterial infections, especially pneumonia.
Remove and replace wet bedding immediately, and scrape their barn to the floor or ground if the smell is extra-strong.
Ensure the barn has enough ventilation (but not enough for a draft in the winter). Consider washing or power washing the walls, floors, and ceiling at least once or twice a year to remove the smell.
Goats, like humans, can catch pesky colds that are not a cause for concern. Colds will cause cloudy, goopy mucus on the nose and watering eyes, but no fever. A healthy goat should maintain a body temperature that hovers around 101.5 F to 103.5 F. Temperatures should be taken rectally to ensure accuracy and consistency.
How to Treat Goat Colds
Colds will naturally clear up on their own, but you can take a few small actions to reduce their stay. Monitor their temperature daily to be sure that this cold isn’t something else that is potentially more dangerous.
- Give your goats more Vitamin A (spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, papaya, apricots, and mangoes).
- Give more Vitamin C (use tablets, rosehips, oranges, Kakadu plums, chili peppers, sweet peppers, guavas, cantaloupe, parsley, and spinach).
- Offer more probiotics to encourage good bacteria to assist with rehabilitation (small doses of apple cider vinegar, fermented foods, and water kefir).
- Nutridrench. This oral “booster” gives your goats a lot of electrolytes, trace minerals, and vitamins in one quick dose of approximately ten cc’s.
- Offer lots of fresh, clean water 24/7. You can give goats electrolytes to get them to ingest more liquids.
Rosehips, pictured below, has a lot of Vitamin C to help goats get over colds. I use rosehips to make tea for my family when we have allergies or colds.
Weather Changes / Allergies
Allergies and changes in the season can also cause non-life-threatening runny noses in goats.
Changes in temperature, drastic weather, and pollen can make goat noses runny or snotty.
If the nasal discharge is clear, it is not likely a cause for concern.
Make sure the goat isn’t running a fever, but this is not something you should worry about; it will clear up in a few days.
Runny noses caused by temperature will be most prevalent in the morning because of the recent overnight temperature drop.
You can identify pneumonia in goats by the following symptoms: \
- Runny noses
- Runny, watering eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Painful coughs that are frequent and “deep” sounding
- Temperatures that range between 104 and 107 F.
- The crackling sound coming from the lungs (smush your ear up against their side, between the shoulder and belly, or use a stethoscope if you’re a sophisticate)
Preventing Pneumonia in Goats
The best way to prevent pneumonia is to avoid overcrowding and stress and give goats ample shelter that will protect them from harsh temperatures and the elements.
A vaccine is also available, though many small-scale goat keepers opt not to use it because pneumonia is not as common in small herds.
This vaccine is Mannheimia haemolytica-pasteurella Multocida bacterin, offered only by the Colorado Serum Company.
Subcutaneously administer 2 ml twice a day, two weeks apart.
Treating Pneumonia in Goats
To treat pneumonia:
- Give your goat plenty of fresh, clean water, and administer electrolytes if necessary
- Administer Banamine to reduce fever and inflammation
- Administer Antibiotics; Naxel is the usual go-to pneumonia treatment for goats, though some people opt to use Nuflor, which is extra-label.
- If other goats are picking on your sick pneumonia-stricken goat, you may quarantine the goat. Otherwise, keep them together to prevent them from becoming extra stressed.
Nasal bots are the offspring of the bot fly, Oestrus ovis, which rarely causes issues for their host animals.
You can tell if goats are bothered by them, if their noses are sniffy, or if they wipe their noses on the ground, their hay, or other goats.
They may also stamp their feet, snort, or wheeze, letting you know they’re having trouble breathing. Nasal bots will not give them a high fever.
You can treat nasal bots with a macrocyclic lactone (ML) drench known as abamectin.
Still, it’s important to note that nasal bots should not be treated unless truly warranted.
This is because we do not want to create resistance in the nasal bots to the ML chemicals.
Drafts or Wet Living Conditions
Draftiness means the animal is exposed to unfavorable weather conditions, which can become pneumonia.
Wet living conditions may mean a considerable amount of ammonia in the area or mold and mildew.
All of these problems will cause runny noses and should be fixed immediately.
Just like humans, goats can fall under the weather if they are more stressed than usual.
The most common stressors for goats include
- Weaning, which is difficult for does and kids alike
- Rehoming and transportation. Moving is stressful for goats.
- Meeting or losing other animals. Goats form friendships, so if a goat goes to a new herd, a new home, or if their closest friends leave or die, they can be stressed or saddened, leading to runny noses.
- Illness or injury. Even though the illness may not directly cause runny noses, the stress from being sick or hurt can give the goats slight nasal issues.
- Life-threatening situations. If you have predators stalking your goats, or your goats do something silly like get their heads stuck in a fence, this can upset them and cause them to act sick for a few hours or a few days.
How To Tell If a Goat’s Runny Nose is Serious
If a goat has a runny nose but no other symptoms, more than likely, they are fine.
If the discharge is clear and runny, it is probably not grounds for concern.
You should worry if the discharge is cloudy, yellow, thickly mucus-like, or greyish color with a clumpy texture.
If the runny nose is accompanied by other symptoms such as wheezing, lethargy, lack of appetite, a fever, or general discomfort, something is wrong, and you need to take action as quickly as possible.
What Can You Do For a Goat With a Runny Nose?
Give your goat a well-balanced diet with at least 10 percent crude protein, and ensure they get plenty of Vitamin A and C.
Also, give unlimited clean and fresh water at all times, and ensure their space and enclosure are clean and stress-free.
Do not administer antibiotics until you know what is causing the runny nose because you want to treat the underlying issue, not the symptom.
What Causes Runny Noses in Goats?
Most of the time, goat’s snotty noses are caused by one of eleven ailments: dust, smoke, dirty living conditions, colds, weather changes, seasonal allergies, pneumonia, nasal bots, drafts, wet living areas, or stress.
Goats With Sick Noses: Final Thoughts
If your goat has a runny or snotty nose, it could be the result of harmless temperature changes, or it could be as dangerous as pneumonia.
Every day, you should take a moment to do a quick wellness check on your goats by looking at their body condition, eyes, noses, behaviors, and coat appearance.
If your goat is showing signs of distress, discomfort, or acting strange in any way, investigate it.
Figure out if the issue is severe or not.
Make sure your goat is well-hydrated, eats good quality roughage, gets along well with herd mates, and has a clean place to escape the elements.
With a bit of prevention and careful treatment, you can keep runny nose days to a minimum for your goat herd.