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Pneumonia in Goats: The Causes, Signs, Treatment & Tips

Pneumonia in Goats

Did you know that pneumonia is one of the main goat killers next to heavy worm load? The culprit can either be bacteria, viruses, and worms. And you should never overlook pneumonia in goats because it can kill your ruminant overnight.

But you can protect your herd and reduce the chance of developing this fatal disease by taking preventive measures.

So, in this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the:

  • types of pneumonia and what triggers or causes them
  • signs and symptoms you should look out for
  • and the recommended treatment for pneumonia in goats

This will help you gain insights into the appropriate goat pneumonia treatment approach and how important it is to work with your trusted veterinarian.

Whether you’re a newbie goat owner or not, we can guarantee that you can benefit from this guide.

But before that, let’s first get into the etiology of Pneumonia and how this respiratory disease affects your ruminants.

What is Pneumonia in Goats?

Pneumonia refers to lung inflammation in goats which can be accompanied by the swelling of:

  • larger airways or bronchioles (bronchopneumonia)
  • pleura or outer lung surface next to the chest wall pleuropneumonia.

This respiratory disease is common among goats. As said earlier, it’s one of the leading killers of goats other than heavy worm load.

It could affect both kids and adult goats all year round. But it’s most prevalent during spring and summer when there are unpredictable temperature swings or changes in climatic conditions, such as:

  • wet weather
  • high humidity
  • high daytime temperature
  • lower evening temperature

For example, in some States like Montana, temperature swings swiftly from warmish days to low single digits or negatives.

And out of all ruminants, goats (especially kids) struggle the most in controlling their body temperature, making them more at risk of developing Pneumonia.

But aside from drastic temperature changes, what causes goat pneumonia?

Causes of Pneumonia in Goats

Causes of Pneumonia in Goats

Here are other common causes of this respiratory disease:

  • Worms
  • Lung parasites or parasitic infections
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Stressful environments such as overcrowding, overfeeding, and dirty pens or spaces
  • Poor nutrition and dietary changes
  • Lack of protection from elements like wind, rain, or snow
  • Weak immune system
  • Transportation stress
  • Sudden environmental changes

The most common cause of pneumonia is the bacterial infection. All mammals already contain bacteria in their lungs, so when a stressor emerges, the bacteria multiply and get out of hand.

But it’s worth noting that not all coughing and runny noses are due to pneumonia because goats may have different types of pneumonia.

Types of Pneumonia in Goats

Before jumping into the signs and treatments, you should know the specific type of pneumonia your goat is experiencing. Otherwise, you may get the wrong diagnosis and treatment. So let’s discuss each one of them.

Interstitial Pneumonia

The first and most common and deadly type of Pneumonia in goats is Interstitial Pneumonia. It refers to lung inflammation involving the lung tissue or alveolar septa.

Interstitial Pneumonia in goats could be due to bacteria, viruses, and worms. And the most terrifying about this is that it can kill your goats overnight.

For example, a goat keeper named Delci had a breeding duck that died overnight. She was shocked when she found her buck cold and stiff when she was about to feed him because he was acting completely fine the night before.

And that’s how Interstitial Pneumonia works. It can kill your goat in as little as 4 hours.

Goats with interstitial Pneumonia can go unnoticeable because they may not show the usual signs such as coughing, a snotty nose, and congestion.

The only symptom you should look out for is the rapid onset of a very high fever, which can reach about 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, it’ll be followed by a sudden drop in their body temperature. Know that when it falls below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the goat’s lungs are filled with fluids and dying.

The next type is the most common among goats and has two subtypes.

Bacterial Pneumonia

As the name suggests, this pneumonia is caused by bacteria. According to MSD Veterinary Manual, “Clinical signs include acute-onset depression, lethargy, and inappetence associated with profound endotoxemia”. Additionally, dehydration and sunken eye can also indicate that your ruminant suffers from bacterial pneumonia.

1. Pasteurella Pneumonia

This type of Pneumonia is brought by Pasteurella multocida, a bacterial organism that creates enzymes that grow microabscesses which turn into extensive abscesses. Then they will turn into septic and can damage your goats severely and kill them.

2. Mannheimia Pneumonia

This is caused by the pathogen Mannheimia haemolytica, which animals can carry in their nasal passages. And the craziest part happens when the bacteria find their way down to the goat’s respiratory tract because they can cause more damage there.

Viral Pneumonia

Viruses can also cause pneumonia in goats, just like in humans. And there are two types you should look out for:

1. Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPPV)

This chronic respiratory disease is due to Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, which can be transmitted through respiratory secretions and contaminated equipment like feeding troughs and waterers.

It usually affects young goats, but older ones can also contract the disease.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics, providing enough nutrition, and applying good health practices in your facilities.

2. CAEV (caprine arthritis encephalitis)

Caprine arthritis and encephalitis virus primarily affect the goat’s nervous system, and joints. But it can also induce Pneumonia and cause lung inflammation.

Parasitic Pneumonia

Also known as lungworm disease, this type of Pneumonia is caused by lungworms that may travel from the intestinal tract to the lungs of the goats.

Goats may ingest the parasite when grazing on a contaminated pasture or feed. These parasites may cause inflammation, coughing, and breathing difficulty when they migrate to the lungs.

If left untreated, this may develop into a chronic respiratory disease which can incur permanent lung damage and, worse, death.

Aspiration Pneumonia

As its name suggests, this Pneumonia occurs when a goat inhales or ingests something that causes a pulmonary infection, leading to inflammation and death of body tissues or necrosis. It is also known as foreign-body Pneumonia, inhalation, or gangrenous Pneumonia.

It can happen when giving oral medications to goats but more often when giving mineral oil.

The disease’s severity depends on how much was inhaled and how far it dispersed.

Pneumonia in Goats Symptoms

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis for Pneumonia in Goats

So, what are the signs of Pneumonia in a goat?

The clinical signs may vary depending on the type of pneumonia your goat is experiencing. Others won’t go detected because they may not show the following symptoms, but here are the signs that may indicate your goat is suffering from pneumonia.

  • High fever (104°-106°F)
  • Low temperature (falls below 100°F)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Depression
  • Rapid shallow breathing or breathing difficulty
  • Moist and painful coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Discomfort
  • Runny nose or eyes

It’s worth noting that not all coughing and runny noses are due to pneumonia. You may need to take their rectal temperature and look for other signs to diagnose correctly.

If you have time and the resources, it’d be best to consult your vet if you notice the symptoms above and the goat seems to separate himself from the herd, not eating and acting unusual.

Treatment of Pneumonia in Goats

Treatment of Pneumonia in Goats

Now, the question is, how do you treat pneumonia in goats?

The treatment approach for pneumonia may vary depending on the cause and type of pneumonia. But the rule of thumb is to make a treatment plan and provide sufficient fluids for your ruminant when suffering from this potentially fatal disease.

Consider that adult goats prefer warm or hot water, but if your goat doesn’t want to drink, you may add a few backstrap molasses or concentrated grape juice to encourage him to drink.

As for kids, they need to be tube-fed if they’re not nursing or not taking a bottle. So, you may need tube-feeding equipment in case one of the herd gets diagnosed with pneumonia.

After taking a rectal temperature, you may proceed to the treatment depending on the result.

Remember that without taking a rectal temperature, it is possible to:

  • misinterpret visual symptoms
  • misdiagnose the disease
  • administer the wrong medication, which could lead to the goat’s demise.

So, what medication is used for pneumonia in goats?

TREATMENT PLAN FOR BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA IN GOATS

There’s a wide range of antibiotics for goat pneumonia, but you must determine the cause first to ensure you pick the right medication. Then, create a treatment plan.

If the goat has a high fever ranging from 104° to 106°F, there’s inflammation inside its body. In that case, the first goal is decreasing the temperature and reducing inflammation.

Note: This is only for educational purposes. It’s best to consult your veterinarian and ask for a prescription before administering a decongestant or antibiotic.

1. Treating the Fever

We recommend using Banamine to bring down their body temperature and alleviate the pain and inflammation inside their body. It should be administered into the muscle (IM) once every 12 hours for no more than three days or until the fever goes down.

The recommended dosage is 1cc per 100 pounds of body weight. But for newborns or young kids, it should be one-tenth to two-tenths of a cc.

Then, what should you do next after dealing with the fever?

Pneumonia Vaccine for Goats

2. Administering Antibiotic

You can find lots of antibiotics for goats with pneumonia on the market.

But there’s only one drug labeled for respiratory diseases in goats, the Naxcel. It’s a good antibiotic but less convenient since you need to refrigerate, mix, and use the whole bottle within seven days. Otherwise, you may need to freeze the remaining dosages in individual syringes.

It’s better to give higher Naxcel dosages than what’s indicated on the label for a faster effect.

The minimum dosage for newborn kids is at least 1/2 cc per day, while for adult 100-pound goats, it’s 4 cc’s per dosage. Administer it consistently for 5 consecutive days and watch out for relapse because it may happen.

But the most convenient and effective for respiratory diseases are Nuflor or Nuflor Gold and Excenel RTU because they don’t require refrigeration.

It can be hard to choose the best antibiotic for goat pneumonia because each medicine has pros and cons, but they’re one of if not the best.

Since these antibiotics are thick fluids, you need an 18-gauge needle for the intramuscular injection. The advantage of IM injections is they bring the antibiotics to the bloodstream quickly.

However, you need to use a luer-lock syringe when administering these fluids to prevent the needle from blowing off the syringe.

No matter what antibiotic you choose or is available in your area, inject your goat daily with the right dosage for five consecutive days for your animal’s maximum benefit.

If prescription antibiotics are unavailable in your area, you may use over-the-counter penicillin or oxytetracycline.

But do note that prescription antibiotics such as Nuflor or Nuflor Gold and Excenel RTU(Ready To Use) are more effective and superior to over-the-counter products.

They’re more expensive but worth it. But you shouldn’t use them without consulting your veterinarians.

ANTIBIOTIC DOSAGE GUIDE
Antibiotic

Needle to be Used

Dosage Where to Administer

No. of Days 

Nuflor 18-gauge needle with a Luer-lock syringe 3cc per 100 pounds body weight IM(Intramuscular) 5 consecutive days
Nuflor Gold 18-gauge needle with a Luer-lock syringe 6 cc’s per 100 pounds of body weight

For newborn kids:

1/2 cc. (minimum)

IM(Intramuscular) 5 consecutive days
Excenel RTU 18-gauge needle 3 cc per 100 pounds of body weight

For newborn kids:

1/2 cc. (minimum)

IM(Intramuscular) 5 consecutive days

Note: The second dose should be given 12 hours after the first shot, and the next four doses shall be given 24 hours after the previous shot. 

Draxxin 18-gauge needle 1 cc per 100 pounds body weight  IM(Intramuscular) 5 consecutive days
Penicillin 18-gauge needle with a Luer-lock syringe 5 cc per 100 pounds body weight Subcutaneous (SQ) over ribs 5 consecutive days
LA200 18-gauge needle 5 cc per 100 pounds body weight Subcutaneous (SQ) over ribs 5 consecutive days

 

3. Relieving Chest Congestion

If your goat displays chest congestion, you must administer an oral expectorant or decongestant to alleviate his respiratory distress.

One of the most accessible decongestants you can use is Robitussin DM. The recommended dosage is 6 ccs per 100 pounds body weight, and you should give it twice daily.

4. Preventing Dehydration

If your ruminant is dehydrated, you need to replenish the fluids in his body with electrolytes. But how?

The key is to drench the goats with a drench gun or syringe. Every 100-pound goat needs at least a gallon of fluids in one day. But sick goats may not be interested in drinking a lot, so you must give it in small amounts throughout the day.

To prevent fluid aspiration into the lungs, you must drench only as fast as the goat can swallow. Otherwise, your ruminant may develop aspiration pneumonia.

But goats can be difficult to drench because they’re naturally not trusting, and their guard becomes heightened when they sense something abnormal is about to happen.

You may need the help of another person in doing this. But if you have a DIY milk stand that you can use to corner your goat and prevent him from backing away from you, you can handle it by yourself.

Here are some tips on how to drench a goat:

  • Hold your goat’s hand with one hand and lift its head.
  • Then, gently pry open its mouth so you can insert the drenching gun or syringe into the back of its mouth.
  • To prevent choking, release the electrolyte slowly from the drenching syringe or gun.
  • If your ruminant is unresponsive, it’d be better not to administer the electrolytes.
  • If the goat’s tongue is out, bleating, or holding its head very high up, be extra careful and take it easy.

5. Supplementation

If your goat is not eating enough food, which is highly likely to happen since it’s sick or off-feed, supplement him with thiamine.

They need it for brain function. Since their rumens stop producing it when they’re off-feed, you must do the job and provide the necessary goat supplement.

The recommended dosage is 4 ccs per 100 pounds of body weight. It can be administered either intramuscularly or subcutaneously every 12 hours.

6. Replenishing the Goats

After completing the antibiotic treatment, follow it up with oral probiotics to help the goat replenish its body.

You can find many probiotics in the market, but PROBIOS may work best for your goat. It contains a variety of microorganism that helps restore the balance in your animal’s gastrointestinal tract. This probiotic works for cattle, sheep, goats, and even cats.

Sale
Probios Bovine One Oral Gel for Ruminants Tube, 60cc
  • Stabilized Source Of Lactic Acid Bacteria
  • Help At Times Of Stress, Such As Ration Change, Birth, Weaning, Shipping, Weather Changes
  • Contains Four Species Of Live Naturally Occurring Lactic Acid Bacteria
  • Package Dimensions: 9.09842519685039" L X 2" W X 1.2007874015748" H

7. Vaccination

If pneumonia is a severe problem in your herd, you may need to vaccinate other goats. The go-to pneumonia vaccine for goats is Presponse HM Pneumonia Vaccine, produced by Beringer Ingleheim.

But what is the recommended Presponse HM dosage for goats?

Well, it may vary depending on your goat’s weight. The recommended dosage for those under 60 pounds is 1 cc (SQ). But you need to increase the dosage of this goat vaccine to 2 ccs if your animal is over 60 pounds.

Remember that you must re-administer the vaccine after 4 weeks and annually after that.

TREATMENT FOR PARASITIC PNEUMONIA

If the main culprits of your goat’s pneumonia are parasites, you need to use dewormers to eliminate them.

This type of pneumonia is caused by the most common lungworm, Muellerius capillaris which can predispose your ruminants to secondary infection.

Vets may form definitive diagnosis using the Baermann Flotation technique, which involves observation of fecal samples to determine the presence of parasites’ larvae. But they also examine the lung lobes’ airways to check for lungworm traces.

It will likely be parasitic pneumonia if your goat shows symptoms like emphysema, pulmonary edema, and pus-filled lobules.

So what are the treatments for parasitic pneumonia in goats?

Well, you have two options; Ivermectin and Fenbendazole.

The recommended dosage for Ivermectin is 200 to 300 μg/kg (SC). As for Fenbendazole, you should give your goat at least 7.5 to 15mg/kg and give it orally.

Goatkeepers cleaning a pen

How to Prevent Pneumonia in Goats

A dirty, stressful, crowded environment combined with stress, parasites presence, and lack of nutrition can increase your goat’s chance of developing respiratory diseases.

So, to keep your ruminant healthy, keep good goat-managing habits. You must ensure their pen is clean, secure, and not overcrowded. Provide clean and fresh water and check for enough ventilation in their home.

Then, feed them with high-quality goat feed and, if possible, let them free-range or browse for their own food.

Don’t forget to deworm your goats and provide supplements with trace minerals such as Copper, Selenium, and Zinc to boost their immunity.

If you let your goats browse food in your pasture, ensure they won’t get in contact with snails and slugs because they can be intermediate hosts for the parasite. But geese and ducks can also eat slugs. So you must be careful to minimize the chance of your goat getting these intermediate hosts.

If you’re planning to buy new animals, it’s best to quarantine them before introducing them to the herd. And if you notice a sick goat, isolate him in a dry, well-ventilated area to keep the other ruminants safe and prevent other goats from bullying him and stepping on him.

And most importantly, vaccinate your goats against pneumonia. It may cost a considerable amount, but it’s worth it.

Lastly, consult your veterinarian before administering antibiotics and decongestants.

Goat in quarantine

Things You Need To Know About Pneumonia in Goats

Here are other facts you should know about these ruminants.

1. Lungworms are Rare

If your goat doesn’t respond to antibiotics, don’t assume quickly that it has lungworm or parasitic pneumonia and needs a dewormer.

Using dewormers this way can increase the deworming product’s failure rate.

2. Coughing isn’t always due to pneumonia.

Just because your goat has a cough doesn’t always indicate that it’s suffering from pneumonia. You need to check if it’s sick and having a fever before asking for antibiotics.

An antibiotic is unnecessary if it’s simply coughing and not showing other symptoms.

Furthermore, fast breathing and high rectal temperature don’t always indicate pneumonia because it could be due to grain overload or copper toxicity. That’s why a complete evaluation is necessary for accurate diagnosis.

3. Always check your sick ruminant’s rectal temperature

It’s best to keep a digital thermometer in your hose or barn to check your ruminants’ rectal temperature when sick easily.

The normal rectal temperature in goats is 101.5-103.5 °F. Pneumonia isn’t the only goat disease that causes fever, but it’s a good starting point for the right diagnosis.

4. Timing of treatment matters

The success of treatment for pneumonia depends on timing than the type of drug used because bacteria double in number every 15 to 30 minutes while damaging your goat’s lungs.

So, check your goats daily and take action immediately if you notice something is off.

5. Don’t give multiple drugs before calling your vet.

If you give your goat two or more different drugs in a day or two before calling for a vet’s help, you might be setting yourself up for trouble.

Some antibiotics can interfere with other drugs’ ability to kill bacteria, so doing so can limit other treatments’ efficiency.

Furthermore, every antibiotic needs time to work, so you must give time for the first drug before administering another.

And most importantly, antibiotic overuse can kill the healthy bacteria in your goat’s rumen. And it can leave residues in other parts of their body. So be careful about what you administer to your ruminant.

6. Don’t use cattle vaccines for goats.

Cattle and goats are ruminants and may get the same bacteria and viruses. But don’t use cattle’s respiratory disease vaccines in goats even if it’s the only accessible drug because there’s little to no evidence that they’re effective in treating pneumonia in goats.

Is Pneumonia Contagious Among Goats?

Some types of Pneumonia, specifically the viral-caused, are contagious, while others aren’t. For example, Mycoplasma pneumonia can spread through kids’ milk.

Others get pneumonia from an affected goat’s secretion. So you must look after your ruminants and quarantine the sick ones to avoid spreading the disease.

However, goats can get pneumonia from themselves, too, because they naturally have bacteria in their nose. But when they get sick and their health becomes compromised, the bacteria multiply and invade their lungs, thus causing pneumonia.

Dealing with Goat Pneumonia

Final Thoughts About Pneumonia in Goats

Goats are hardy animals but can also fall victim to respiratory diseases from bacteria, viruses, and oil inhalation. If you notice that one of them isolates himself from the herd and is not acting as usual, it’s best to check his rectal temperature and look for other signs of pneumonia in goats.

The earlier you detect the symptoms and call your vet, the better because timing matters most when treating pneumonia.

You should also establish a daylight relationship with your vet. If your vet is familiar with your animals and has seen firsthand how you operate your facility, they’re more likely to give accurate advice over the phone when needed.

Practice good herd management and vaccinate your herd against pneumonia. It may cost you lots of time and money. But by taking these steps, you can win against pneumonia in goats.

READ NEXT: Tetanus in Goats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment for Ruminants

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