Suppose you see goats grind their teeth.
That is a surefire sign that something is wrong and that you should immediately start paying attention to that individual.
In this post, we’ll discuss what causes goats to grind their teeth, how to prevent it, and how to fix teeth grinding.
What Causes Goats to Grind Their Teeth?
Excessive teeth grinding is a clue that something isn’t quite right with your four-legged friend.
Teeth grinding indicates your goat is uncomfortable, stressed, or in pain.
Beyond that, though, these symptoms could hide something more severe, like bloat, scours, laminitis, pregnancy, or an injury. We’ll cover each of these ailments in more depth below.
Keep watchful eyes on your goat; always do a quick visual exam on each of them every time you visit the barn so that you can spot issues right away.
For some of these issues, time is of the essence and can be the difference between saving or losing your goat.
Pain Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
Ultimately, goats grind their teeth because something is wrong and they feel minor to major pain.
This pain could either mean they are injured or have one of the below diseases.
- Check legs for cuts, bruises, or hot spots. The bone could be broken or dislocated.
- See if the horns are intact and not damaged; it hurts if they are knocked off or knocked loose.
- Look over the rest of the body for abrasions, lesions, cuts, sores, or painful areas. Remember to look at the reproductive areas, as they are more prone to injury, especially if you keep goats of both sexes together.
- Examine the ears for mites, blood, or discharge.
- Look on the ground for blood, diarrhea, or excessive amounts of fur.
- If you don’t see anything, it’s probably because this is an internal issue. If the animal has internal bleeding, you probably won’t know until it’s too late. It could be other internal issues, like the disease or illnesses we’re covering next.
Stress Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
When goats experience physical pain or distress from drastic changes in the environment– like being separated from their mother after birth, losing a fellow goat friend, moving pens, or changing farms, it can cause temporary teeth-grinding due to anger or stress.
Prolonged mistreatment by humans, threats from predators, or aggressive, bullying herd mates may also lead to this intense reaction, similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that we see in other species, including humans.
It’s less common, but changing the feed type or daily routine can cause grinding too.
Of course, postpartum nannies have had massive changes in their lifestyles, so you may expect some grinding from them as they navigate the choppy waters of motherhood.
Thankfully, once goats return back into an environment where they feel comfortable again, the stressful behavior and symptomatic tooth grinding will cease immediately.
Bloat Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
As spring arrives, so does the danger of bloat in goats.
Caused by significant dietary changes, too-much-too-fast access to pasture, too much grain, or fresh alfalfa, bloating can be a serious issue unless it is treated quickly and urgently.
When goats cannot pass building up gas, it’s a BIG emergency.
Symptoms to look out for are teeth grinding, indicating their stomach may hurt.
Bulging tummies, a distended left abdomen (if you tap it, it will sound surprisingly like a drum), refusal to eat, refusal to drink, lethargy, kicking at the belly, respiratory distress, bellowing noises, or serious mood changes are more major symptoms of goat bloat.
If your goat is suffering from foam bloat, it’s best to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Traditional mineral oil treatments may help settle the issue, but vets have access to more powerful surfactants that could quickly eliminate any bubbly buildup in the digestion system.
In cases where medical intervention might be necessary, don’t hesitate to get help and seek professional advice immediately.
To prevent future occurrences, always keep an eye on what food your furry friend has access to.
All dietary changes should happen gradually to prevent stomach issues.
Scours Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
Scours, a form of diarrhea, can become serious if it progresses too long.
While kids are more vulnerable than adults, no goat is immune to this condition, which may be caused by excessive milk or grain in their diet and other factors such as coccidiosis and enterotoxemia.
Symptoms include teeth grinding and watery or pale brown stools.
Loss of appetite, dehydration, rough fur, and significant weight loss are other strong indicators of it.
Ceasing dairy consumption and providing kaolin-pectin with plenty of fluids helps mitigate the issue. However, taking your goat to the vet should still be considered if matters worsen significantly.
Scours can be deadly.
To keep coccidiosis at bay, implement preventive measures such as regularly removing manure and feed from the premises, lavishing animals with clean water, and sanitizing tanks and troughs often.
Don’t let indoor housing get too damp, and provide ample ventilation.
For winter housing on solid ground surfaces, you have to provide a dry and hygienic environment for your goats.
Woodchips and discarded hay work, dry straw is the best option.
You should also consider treatment options like providing feeds containing an anti-parasitic, like Deccox®, specifically targeting this infestation in your goat herd.
Laminitis Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
Goats and sheep are particularly vulnerable to a devastating metabolic disorder known as laminitis.
This causes the soft tissues of their hooves to suffer impaired blood flow.
If untreated, this can cause terrible damage, making it difficult for these animals to stand– much less walk or graze on grass.
Goats affected by laminitis display pain-induced behavior, such as grinding their teeth and refusing to move.
In the early stages, they may appear lame or show an increasing tendency to walk on their knees.
Over time, hooves become thickened with a loss of distinction between wall and sole.
These signs should not be mistaken for other issues like puncture wounds or arthritis.
Pregnancy Will Make Goats Grind Their Teeth
As a pregnant goat approaches birthing time, her body contorts into unfamiliar shapes, and new sharp pains ensue.
Homesteading mamas with children of their own can understand the feeling and sympathize!
She may grind her teeth to cope with this discomfort, especially if this is her first time.
Take this as a warning sign that the time for labor is near!
Once labor begins in earnest, baby goats should arrive within twelve hours, with delivery taking less than half an hour.
If it takes much longer than expected, however, or grinding continues despite all else being normal for a birthing season – call for backup from your local veterinarian or be prepared to lend a hand if you think it’s necessary.
How to Prevent or Stop Goats From Grinding Their Teeth
Preventing teeth grinding in goats is possible with thoughtful management and basic good animal husbandry.
Feed adjustments should be made slowly, and forage should always be included– forage should make up about 4% of the goat’s body weight per week to maintain a healthy rumen.
Eliminating external stressors from your herd’s environment can significantly impact their well-being, too.
If possible, pay attention to anything that may cause distress and remove these stressors immediately.
Truly, most herd issues can be mitigated by simply spending a few undistracted hours outside with your herd.
Observe the goats and pay attention to where they go, how they interact with one another, and how much they eat and drink.
Careful observations like this can massively help you understand your goats on a whole new level.
Finally, make sure all of the animals are up-to-date on vaccinations and dewormers; illnesses and parasites make goats uncomfortable, stressed, and malnourished. Prevent as many problems as possible.
Why Goats Grind Their Teeth: Final Thoughts
There you have it! Those are some of the main reasons why goats grind their teeth.
We hope this article gave you a better understanding of this behavior and how you can prevent it.
If your goat is grinding its teeth and you can’t figure out why, reach out to a more experienced goat keeper or head to your local vet for answers right away.
This lets you rule out any other potential issues, and it could save a life.