Goat Bloat

bloated goat

Many people think a goat is bloated when it simply has a large belly. I have seen many people post online, “My goat has been bloated for several days,” which is impossible. A goat with bloat will die within hours if not treated. If a goat’s belly has looked unusually large for several days, it is probably a hay belly, which is most likely caused by parasites. A goat with a heavy load of parasites may be “starving” because the parasites are either causing anemia or consuming the nutrients in the goat’s digestive system. This causes the goat to eat constantly, which causes their belly to be quite large.

The belly is not usually the first thing you will notice when a goat has a real case of bloat. It will probably be lying down in a corner somewhere hiding. It will have zero interest in food, may be grinding its teeth (a sign of pain), and it will not want to get up and move. However, once you get it to its feet, you will probably notice that its abdomen looks bigger than usual.

You can tell the difference between a hay belly and bloat because if you press on the left abdomen (over the rumen) of a goat with a hay belly, you can mash it in as if you were mashing in cookie dough. And it stays mashed in when you lift your fingers. You’ve just moved around chewed up hay and forage in the rumen.

A goat with bloat, however, has an abdomen that feels tight like a drum, which is why the technical term is ruminal tympany. If you are able to press it in at all, it will spring right back out because the rumen is filled with gas.

Goats on pasture rarely get bloat, provided that dietary changes occur gradually. If you keep your goats in the barn or on a dry lot all winter, you should expose them to pasture slowly in the spring. Start with only a few hours of pasture a day after giving them hay in the barn before letting them out so that they don’t gorge themselves on the pasture.

Suddenly grazing lush fields of legumes, such as alfalfa or clover, and sometimes even wet spring grass can cause frothy bloat, which is when a buildup of gas cannot be released from the goat’s rumen, putting pressure on the heart and lungs and ultimately causing death. If you are not seeing fast improvement in treating a goat with bloat, you should call the vet, especially if the goat cannot stand and refuses to eat.

The goal of treating frothy bloat is to break down the foam, which is usually done by drenching with 100–200 cc of cooking oil. (1) There are also commercial anti-bloating medications available. Although some people recommend putting a stomach tube into a goat to administer the oil, there is no benefit to doing this, and it is in fact much more dangerous than simply drenching a goat because of the risk that an inexperienced person could put the tube into the goat’s lung and kill it. If a goat can swallow, it can be given liquids orally with a drenching syringe. After drenching, the goat should be encouraged to walk around, or the rumen can be massaged to help the goat release the gas.

If a goat with bloat cannot swallow, it could be because something is stuck in the goat’s throat, which means the goat has choke bloat. For this reason, you should administer the oil very slowly until you are sure the goat can swallow, so that you don’t accidentally force oil into the goat’s lungs. If there is something stuck in the goat’s throat, a small amount of oil may help lubricate it, so the goat can swallow it. In this case, it may be helpful to put a tube into the goat’s throat to help push the object down.

Goats can also get bloat by gorging themselves on grain. (2) When goats chew, they produce bicarbonate. Eating hay or browse requires lots of chewing. Eating pelletized feed or grain, especially grain that is finely ground, requires very little chewing, which means the goat will produce very little bicarbonate. This is why it’s a good idea to have baking soda available free choice in a separate dish at all times if you feed grain. You never know when a goat’s rumen could be a little off. You may also have a goat or two that chews very little when on the milk stand because it is essentially a grain hog that will try to consume as much as possible.

If you are new to goats, you also have no idea how easily goats might be able to escape their area and find chicken or pig grain upon which to gorge themselves. Studies have shown that baking soda is an effective treatment for grain bloat. In one study where they overfed crushed rice to goats, 100 percent died in the group that did not receive baking soda, whereas only 20 percent died in the group that did receive baking soda. (3) If baking soda is available free choice, goats will usually self-medicate when needed.

If a vet is called, he or she may use a trochar to release the gas. It’s basically a metal tube that punctures the rumen to allow gas to escape through the tube. If you can’t reach a vet quickly, a less risky option to release the gas is to insert a 14-gauge or 16-gauge needle into the rumen.

Because nothing on the internet ever dies, there has been a resurgence of an old home remedy for bloat, which is to give liquid laundry detergent (specifically Tide) to a goat with bloat. This was common advice back in the 1970s. Back then liquid laundry detergent was little more than surfactants, which is what is in modern bloat medicines. Today’s Tide, however, contains 27 ingredients, including optical brighteners, water softening chemicals, enzymes, polymers, colors, and fragrance, in addition to five different surfactants. Many of these ingredients are carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors, which is why some consumers today have chosen more natural laundry detergents — and that’s just because we don’t want them on our skin. None of the ingredients in modern laundry detergent are meant to be consumed orally; they are poisons. In fact, thousands of children wind up in hospital emergency rooms every year after consuming laundry detergent, with a few in a coma, and one or two dying. Laundry detergent damages the esophagus and can cause breathing difficulties so severe that some children are put on a respirator.

This is an excerpt from the second edition of Raising Goats Naturally by Deborah Niemann.

Citations:

(1) John Matthews, Diseases of the Goat, 4th edition, (Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), 252.

(2) Sandra G. Solaiman, Goat Science and Production, (Ames, Iowa: Blackwell, 2010), 168.

(3) N.A. Tufani, et al., “Rumen Acidosis in Small Ruminants and its Therapeutic Management,” Iranian Journal of Applied Animal Science, 2013: 19–24; and S.M.S. Islam, et al., “Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate on Induced Lactic Acidosis in Black Bengal Goats,” Wayamba Journal of Animal Science, 2014: 1044–1057.

goat bloat

93 thoughts on “Goat Bloat”

  1. We had a goat with frothy bloat a year ago…our vet had us walk her and periodically put her front legs up higher than the back to get her to burpnor pass gas. They also had us give her milk of magnesia and charcoal mixed with the olive oil……

    Reply
    • Walking is a good thing, but milk of magnesia and charcoal are not bloat treatments. Maybe someone was worried that she had eaten something poisonous?

      Reply
          • He has had a bloated tummy for a week. Given him baking soda and oil. He started burping but still is bloated. I gave him probiotics in his water. One of my other goats tested positive for coccidia and another parasite, so he was treated also. Wondering if that would make him bloated also. He’s acting fine just fat. He eats and drinks like normal also. I worked them again and have probis yesterday. Any ideas?

          • Your goat is not bloated. A goat will die within a couple hours if it has bloat and is not treated. Sounds like it has hay belly, which usually happens when a goat has a high load of parasites. They are starving, so they stuff themselves and eat as much as possible. It is possible that either you did not give enough of the dewormer or the worms are resistant to the dewormer that you used. Here is more information about using dewormers:
            https://thriftyhomesteader.com/deworming-goats/
            And here is more info about dewormer resistance:
            https://thriftyhomesteader.com/dewormer-resistance-in-goats/

  2. I’m dealing with a bloated young Nubian doe today – while I’m at work. God bless my daughter-in-law and grandson (just showed a FFA goat at the fair) I’m reading them this page telling them what to do for her. She’s passing gas from both ends, slowly but surely, so the olive oil is working. I have no idea what she got into, but I’m thinking hay and they didn’t have any baking soda in their dish this morning :\ Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge!

    Reply
      • Well, I just home from work and things have stopped. I just gave her 10 cc of olive oil with about 1/2 tsp baking soda. Her rumen is soft, it’s the lower belly that feels bloated, and she just wants to stand in one spot and not move.

        Reply
        • If you can press into the upper part, that’s an improvement. Hopefully the second dose helped even more. If you can get her to walk around, that’s also helpful, but I know that’s now always easy.

          Reply
  3. I have a saanen doeling that is four months old and he stomach is hard on the bottom and softer at the top and she was drinking a lot of water but not wanting to eat what should I do
    Do u have a suggestion
    Thanks Allison

    Reply
    • If the stomach is soft, that’s not bloat. Being off feed is the first symptom of many things that could make a goat sick. Parasites are the #1 cause of death in goats, so worms or coccidia would be the first thing to rule out. Is she still pooping pebbles? Are her eyelids dark pink, light pink, or white? What is her body condition like?

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  4. Our goat seems lethargic. Wanting to just stand and not very active. I had switched hay a few days ago and it may be when this started but not sure. Grace (our Nigerian) had a couple runny poops and a little frothy look when she was chewing. Please help!!

    Reply
  5. I had a male baby goat 3 weeks old
    I fed him 2/3 table spoon of cooked wheat porridge after that he got his normal routine milk feed
    Right after feeding he sat down never eat anything called the vet gave medicine for stomach
    After7 hours expired
    Can you please tell the possible cause
    Thanks

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry you lost your little guy. It would be impossible to tell from what you said why he died. There could be many reasons. You’d have to get a necropsy to get a definitive diagnosis.

      Reply
    • Just because he got into the horse’s grain doesn’t mean he will get bloat. Does he have the symptoms of bloat? If he is acting normal, eating and drinking, etc, then he’s fine for now. Just keep an eye on him. If his belly is huge and firm like a drum, then you can give him an ounce of cooking oil, such as olive oil, sunflower, etc.

      Reply
  6. One of my goats has always had a large round belly. They forage during the day and get Timothy hay in the evening and a bit of grain in the morning. Her sister is normal. Today the large belly goat is not well, standing up against the shed wall, hoofing the ground, she had the shed bedding all hoofed up. Her poo is a bit clumped together and I don’t see her chewing cud. Any ideas? Her belly, both sides is hard. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Clumpy poop is a classic sign of a worm overload. If your goat has had a big belly for awhile, it could be that she’s “starving” because she is either anemic or the worms are consuming all of the nutrients in her digestive tract. Different types of worms do different things, but ultimately they both cause goats to have little energy and poor body condition. If you press into the left side of her belly (her rumen) and it feels like you are pushing into cookie dough, then her rumen is just full of food — NOT gas.

      I see it’s been seven hours since you sent this message, so it’s important to understand that a goat with bloat would probably be dead by now. If she is still alive, I’d check her eyelids. If they are pale pink or white, that would be an indication of barber pole worm. If they are dark pink or red, it could be a different type of roundworm that consumes the contents of the goat’s stomach, making it unavailable for the goat to actually get nutrients from. Clumpy poop usually goes with barber pole worm though.

      Reply
      • My goat had the same issue, big round belly, standing up against the wall and grinding his teeth. We drenched him, waited a few days, poo clumpy and had like mucus. Took him to the vets and they gave him antibiotics and shots of vitamin b. It’s been about two weeks and his belly has gone down, eating and drinking fine. Just not his normal jumping around self. How long did it take for your goat to get better?

        Reply
        • Did you drench him with cooking oil or a dewormer? What was the goat’s diagnosis? Standing in the corner like this is the symptom of dozens of possible illnesses. If the vet gave him antibiotics, that would be for an infection. Did the goat have a fever? Some vets just give a shot of antibiotics when they don’t know what else to do. Your goat does not sound well, so it sound like he is still sick. This sound more like worms than anything. If you gave him a dewormer, what was the dosage? If you followed directions on the bottle, then you underdosed him, and that’s why he is not better.

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  7. Noel is still alive! Since she’s always been large bellied I didn’t think it’s bloat. She is moving around this morning , came down to the garden and wandered with her sister. A vet came out last summer to look at crusty patches on her back which she said probably reaction to bad outbreak of lice, recommended Ultra boss which I did. This year after combing – they are cashmere type – I dusted with food grade diatomaceous earth twice this summer which seemed to work. Anyway the vet took poo samples then to check for worms and there were none. I will get sampled again.
    Do you think it could be something she was born with?

    Reply
    • Goats are not born with worms, although they do acquire them fairly early in life, and they always have them, so when someone says there were no worms in a fecal, it’s not that reassuring. It may mean the fecal was done incorrectly. There should at least a few, but they don’t need to be treated unless the goat is being negatively affected. You don’t necessarily need to do a fecal if her eyelids are pale. She probably has barber pole worm, which sucks their blood. You can buy Safeguard at any farm supply store, or you can buy a horse dewormer since you only need to treat one goat.

      If you have kept them on the same pasture for the past year — or even a couple of months — they’re basically eating from their toilet, so they are ingesting larvae from the pasture, and at some point the level in their gut is just too much for them to deal with. Every goat has a different tolerance level for worms, and some are more sensitive than others, so it’s not unusual to have that looks worse and gets sicker than others.

      Reply
  8. Thank you so much for your help. My faith in our local vet has now fallen another rung. This goat’s guard hair is falling out too, another poor health indication. This is my third year into goats, learning all the time. We have only 3 acres, it’s spruce, scrub willow and other moose country browse. Thank you again!

    Reply
  9. Thank you. I’m sure you are right about the veterinarian. Unfortunately we only have one clinic with two vets, both are nice just very over worked. I picked up Safeguard for goats today. The one that was sick is much better and back to her usual antics but I still believe she is not as healthy as she should be and parasites could be why. Thank you for the links.

    Reply
    • Dosage info is in one of the links, but just in case you don’t get to them right away, you should double the dosage for Safeguard.

      Reply
  10. Have a goat with likely listeria, despite the fact there are no obvious sources. Fever, Drooling, right facial paralysis, weak hind end off/on. High dose PCN q6-8h. Thiamine 500 mg twice daily. Probiotics. Day 5 today. She waxes and wanes in terms of weakness and comfort. She drinks a little on her, other wise I syringe her. Avg 1-2 liters/day. Vet said to feed soaked alfalfa pellets since she wasn’t chewing well, and didn’t want her rumen to become impacted. It is tight, and occasionally tender, though not bloated. Giving her water and massaging it helps. She isn’t chewing her cud well. I’m worried that not giving her hay will be cause more problems with poor rumen function. Vet says, to avoid hay to avoid. Only feed mash so it can be emptied by the rumen . (She is chewing her food before swallowing). Do goats need long stem hay to keep their rumen working, even if chewing their cud is problematic?
    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Goats make bicarbonate when they chew, which is why chewing long stem forage is important, so if she is not chewing much be sure she has baking soda available free choice.

      A goat with listeriosis is usually dead long before five days. At this point I’d suspect meningeal worm, as the symptoms are very similar and can be hard to tell apart. The only odd thing is that a goat with m-worm doesn’t have a fever. What exactly do you mean by fever? What temperature? A goat’s body temp is much more variable than other mammals, so I’m wondering if she just normally runs a little high. Here is more on m-worm:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/m-worm-nightmare-for-goat-sheep-and/
      This is the time of year that you see disease from m-worm.

      Reply
  11. Thank you. Her temp was 105 for about 24 hours. Her first symptom was depression, refusal to eat, and then profuse drooling/slack jaw. I gave her ivermectin, if thats affective again m-worm?
    1.5 weeks ago, I had another doe present the same way, without fever. (but I gave her banimine). Her symptoms progressed to near complete paralysis and I had to put her down after 72 hours.
    What would you suggest for m-worm. We’ve had an incredible drought all summer, but I know some deer frequent the pasture.

    Reply
    • Safeguard is the main dewormer used for m-worm. Some regimens add ivermectin but not all. Everyone agrees the Safeguard is the most important, but it is a huge dose — about 10x the usual dose used for intestinal worms. I’m traveling right now so don’t have access to all of my resources in my home library. Ask your vet about this. If you just had another goat get paralyzed a couple weeks ago, it could very well be m-worm. As I say in the article I linked, it affects all animals differently because it depends where in spinal column the worm winds up.

      Reply
  12. My 3 month he goat firstly discharging mucous in both eyes and nose and later having fast earth beat and staggering while walking. Please what do you think I can do

    Reply
    • The fast heart beat and staggering sound like he’s been poisoned. If so, there’s not much you can do about that. Goats often bounce back from poisoning though, so hopefully that will happen with him. If he has a fever, he could have an infection, and antibiotics might help. It’s tough to know exactly what’s happening without more details.

      Reply
  13. Any experience with a goat that gorged on dog food? She had diarrhea the first day so I moved her into a stall, the next morning she was down and would lift her front end to eat hay and baking soda and minerals. I drenched her with baking soda and gave some vitamins. She was huge and tight in the belly. by this morning she is much smaller, passed a lot of gas. I got her to stand for about 10 mins but then she laid back down and hasn’t been up since. I asked my husband to go out and lift her back on her feet every hour while I’m at work.

    Reply
    • I am so sorry to hear this! And sorry I didn’t see your post sooner. We’ve had a goat or two that tried to eat dog food, but our LGD was usually not far from his bowl and would chase them off before they got too much. How is your doe doing now?

      Reply
  14. My 3 month old male goat has been sick for several days. First we noticed he was “screaming” while trying to use the bathroom. He nearly lost his voice completely. I am a new goat owner and had given him too much sweet feed and not enough fresh hay. He did get to eat plenty of green grass and my flowers while “free-ranging” with my chickens. It was suggested by a friend that has had goats for years that I give him pepto. I did and he seemed to be better for a couple of days. he even got his voice back. Yesterday however, I came home to find him laying down in a pile of hay and his belly was very big. He seemed to have no energy and could barely stand. I gave him more pepto but today he will not even stand up. I do not want to lose my baby. What do you suggest?

    Reply
    • If he is with your chickens, he may be gettin into the chicken grain, which can also make him sick. Please re-read the article above. If he has all the symptoms of bloat, you can try baking soda or vegetable oil. If baking soda does not help, then he needs vegetable oil. If his belly is not hard like a drum, then it could be enterotoxemia, especially if you start to see bloody diarrhea, which will kill him very quickly. You would have to take him to a vet to save him.

      He also needs a goat friend. That could be why he screams so much — because he’s lonely. Goats are herd animals and should never be alone.

      Reply
  15. I have a goat about 3 months and this morning we woke up to him just laying around not wanting to move. Once we got him to his feet we noticed he was very boated so we gave him baking soda and the oil. It seemed to work as it got rid of the boating and he started burping. He moved around a little but really just wants to stand in one spot. When we get him to move he tries to poop but starts straining and doesn’t go to the bathroom. Is this related to the bloat or is this something different and what should I do for it?

    Reply
    • Usually when someone thinks their male goat can’t poop, the problem is that he can’t pee., which is caused by a urinary stone. If this is a wether, and you have been feeding him grain, that would put him at high risk of urinary stones. If he has his body stretched out like they do when they pee and you see no pee or only drops of pee, you need to call a vet ASAP because a blockage could kill him.

      Reply
  16. Our goats got into the grain on Thursday evening and on Friday one of our goats seemed lethargic, we got her up and I thought she was OK. Saturday morning she was very bad. ears down and we didn’t think we could get her to stand up. We finally did and it seemed like she had bloat. we gave her olive oil and baking soda, massaged her tummy, gave her another dose of olive oil and baking soda. She also had diarrhea. Finally later in the day when the vet couldn’t come out we decided to poke her rumen, her belly went down, but she did not seem to improve at all. On sunday we treated her with an injection of c&d. Her stool has gone back to round balls and she is drinking a little water, but still is laying down most of the day and her ears are still droopy. She was also nursing 2 babies and has gone dry. Can recovery from bloat take this long?

    Reply
    • Keep in mind that bloat is just a symptom, not a disease, and bloat goes away fairly quickly or the goat is dead. Sounds like something else went south in her digestive system. Typically if a goat has enterotoxemia, which is what the C&D is treating, they die within a couple of hours, so I would not have expected her to live even one day. If she is back to pooping pebbles, it sounds like she is on the mend. There are so many things that can go wrong in a goat’s digestive system. The rumen is a very complex fermentation vat that is easily upset. Some homemade goat yogurt might be beneficial or commercial probiotics to help get things heading in the right direction a little faster.

      I’m also wondering if her thiamine production was messed up and she’s suffering from a mild case of thiamine deficiency or goat polio. I say “mild” because again she should be dead by now if it was a severe case. B-complex doesn’t usually have enough thiamine in it to treat a full-blown case of deficiency but in her case, it might also help her to bounce back. Goats produce their own thiamine in their rumen, so deficiency is one of the most common things that happens when a goat gets too much grain. Thiamine alone is by prescription because it is quite a high dose, but B-complex is over the counter.

      Sounds like she really dodged a bullet with her little over-indulgence. I really am surprised she’s still alive after everything you described and considering all of the possibilities.

      Reply
  17. Hello, my nigerian doe looked bloated but after reading your article I believe she has hay belly. She always acts hungry and poops ALOT. I did start her on Molly’s herbal dewormer because her eyelids are pale. I am not sure what to do, she has 2 kids that she is nursing. Suggestions?

    Reply
  18. Hi- our 14 year old Pygmy goat named Cindy who has been healthy her whole life (and only has her sister Jenny for a buddy) became ill yesterday. She wouldn’t eat & was only laying down. Her belly was tight. We gave her about a couple of TB’s of vegetable oil. She burped or chewed cud again after about two hours after dosing. I did notice her poop was a tad on the clumpy side. Her belly was more soft after dosing. She is more alert and active this morning, but not quite acting perfectly normal. Should we dose oil again? And when is she allowed to eat? (Nothing was different in her diet prior to this- she eats a little bit out in pasture, has hay available and a small amount of grain each day.) Thank You so much for your time. And thanks for your website- it helped us with Cindy!

    Reply
    • I’m glad to hear she’s better today. You should have hay available 24/7. If she doesn’t start eating, that’s cause for concern. Grain and green grass is the only thing you want to limit with a goat that has bloat. As soon as she’s acting normal, you can let her out on pasture again. In the meantime, she can eat hay.

      Do you have baking soda available? I’d suggest offering her some and seeing if she’s interested in it.

      Reply
  19. Hi! I have read your articles and replies to posts, found them extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you!! Please help my best friend wether who got sick this spring with bloat. Rumen tight as a drum, vocal breathing, standing with his forehead leaning on the wall, but we got through it! He seemed back to his energetic self for awhile. Voracious appetite: check! But he stopped drinking voluminous amounts of water. For weeks, he has now had a loss of enthusiasm for food and water, less energy, much pickier eater, every time I think he is making a comeback, he vomits about a tablespoon or two of wet olive green cud every few days or once a week. He is mildly dehydrated on/off and has irregular tiny hard dark poop pellets half his normal size (always had uniformly big round well-digested pellets and LOTS of ’em.) I have to dilute water with tasty electrolytes or coconut water and tempt him with nuts to drink any. Because he is eating less browse and forage, I have been introducing Timothy hay to help jumpstart his rumen. I have him eat baking soda with B vitamins and probiotics. A little activated charcoal if he splutters up a wet cud. I’ve given him nori brushed with coconut oil which he loved. Lately, he seems to be losing his appetite for more and more things. He was starting to make a strong comeback by the time the vet could see him and she exclaimed that he was perfectly healthy looking. Which may be why they didn’t take his vitals at the physical exam? They gave him grain and treats to draw blood and his rumen suffered for a few days. Poop which was finally getting back to normal the day I took him to the vet, started coming out tiny again. I’m wary when they tell me his fecal test turned up “totally fine”. I am awaiting blood work results. What can I do to help him? His rumen health has become so sensitive. The vet said he’s just old but this seems too sudden and closely following a bad bloat episode. Can it take this long to heal from bloat? What else can be going on? How can I help him? Thank you!

    Reply
    • If a tablespoon or two of something is coming out like vomit, that’s just normal cud. Normally they chew it and swallow it again. Chewing cud is a sign of a healthy goat. Is he spitting out his cud? Goats only vomit if they’ve poisoned. And poisoning would be the only instance where you would give him activated charcoal. If he is getting poisoned regularly, then you need to figure out what’s happening and eliminate it.

      Baking soda should only be available free choice. You should not be forcing him to eat it. Goats tend to be very good about self medicating with baking soda IF they need it. He really should not need it at all if he is not eating grain, and from what you’ve explained, I really hope you are not giving him grain because it’s very hard for goats to digest.

      It could be anything from dental problems to cancer.

      Reply
      • Thanks for responding. Is it true that bloat can take as long as a year to heal?
        My post to you was very unclear. Let me explain better:
        He’s on browse & pasture. Grass hay, no alfalfa. And no grain.
        The vet gave grain to do his exam- owners not allowed in—covid. Was told I can supplement diet with Purina processed grain kibble and pelleted alfalfa. I don’t —for UC prevention.
        Baking soda, minerals are free choice.
        His teeth are fine—chews cud 20-40x before swallowing.
        By ‘vomited’, i mean while chewing, he brings up cud with force, out of his mouth and onto the ground ~1-2 T worth. For vomit, I let him have activated charcoal. And at times, he has had very wet cud. What does that indicate?
        Since getting bloat, he drinks much less water. Added electrolytes.
        Hope this is more clear. Thanks in advance if you can help!
        I will investigate the possibility of cancer.

        Reply
        • No, bloat does not take a year to heal. I’m sorry your vet was not more helpful. It would be good to have blood work and other diagnostics done to see if his system is working properly overall.

          Reply
  20. Hello,
    I have a Pygmy buckling and he’s 2 months old. I’m new to goats and I’m a little worried – the left side of him is hard/tight feeling when I try to push on it and looks bigger than his right side. He is eating and drinking. He jumps, runs, and plays. It has looked like this for a week or so now. So I guess I’m a little confused because I’ve read this article and all of the comments. I’m going to say it’s not bloat since he would be dead by now, but I’ve also checked his mucous membrane for color and he’s pink from what I can tell. So I’m not sure about the hay belly/parasites either. Should I have him looked at?

    Reply
    • A goat cannot survive with bloat for a week. If his left side is big, he may have hay belly. Some goats eat so much that they are literally stuffing their rumen (which is on their left side). If you press into it, and it feels like you are pressing into cookie dough, that’s chewed up food in the rumen, and it’s totally normal. If his belly is really big, but his spine doesn’t have much meat on it, then he could have a problem with intestinal parasites.

      Check out this post — Is my kid fat? — to see if this sounds like what you’re seeing.
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/is-my-goat-kid-fa/

      Reply
    • There are many reasons a goat can get pneumonia, and treatment varies. It can be due to mycoplasma, chlamydophilia, lungworms, aspiration, or a number of viruses. If it had lungworm, it would need a dewormer. A bacterial infection could be treated with antibiotics, and not much can be done for viral infections. So the first thing you need is a correct diagnosis.

      Reply
  21. I found my one year old billy goat dead in the barn this morning. His stomach looked like a balloon. So I have looked up bloat and assume that is what killed him. Just to clarify though, to make sure it is not something else…I dissected him and found no worms. (I know that sounds crazy, to dissect a pet but I feel it’s my job to find out what happened.) Just found air all throughout his intestines. Like there was some kind of blockage. Strange to see all that empty air filled intestines. Is this what bloat is? Ty

    Reply
    • Any goat that’s been dead for more than a few hours will be bloated. The rumen is a giant fermentation vat that does not stop fermenting after the goat is dead, so you will see a very big abdomen and lots of gas in the goat’s digestive system within a few hours after they die. The only goats that you can see with the naked eye are tapeworms, which are not pathogenic. They just eat the contents of the intestines, so don’t really hurt goats. Other worms are microscopic or as small as tiny little hairs, which you probably would not notice unless it was so severe that it looked like hair was growing inside the stomach.

      If you want to know what caused the death, you need to get a real necropsy. The answer is often found in lab work. You could also send in the liver to see if there are any mineral deficiencies.

      Reply
  22. Hey my goat snuck into a area and a a lot of feed. He exhibited all of the behaviors of bloat. Lying down, crying , even grinding his teeth. I took him to the vet after treatment at home didn’t help. They released air from his rumen and put a tube in. They also had to scrape out his rumen. His condition still hasn’t improved. Have you ever witnessed a got that had his rumen scraped out survive? I’m so upset right now 🙁

    Reply
    • Sounds like it might have been something more than just bloat, which is just air. For bloat, they usually just release the air. You didn’t say how long it’s been since he was at the vet, but sounds like he’s been through a lot, so I wouldn’t expect him to be a happy goat for a day or two after this all happened. What did the vet say?

      Reply
  23. Hi my 3 month old drawf Nigerian goat is not doing well and im not sure if its bloat of something else. He is very lethargic only wants to stand in one area stomach feels hard left side a little bigger. He had regular pellet poop. I have him for veggie oil then he had diarrhea poop. I have been massaging and giving him pedialite because he’s not drinking. His left side went down a little bit but the bottom is still very hard. I could get an vet appointment and the Er vet dr. Doesn’t treat goats. I’m freaking out can someone please tell me what to do.

    Reply
    • You didn’t say how long he was acting like this. Bloat would kill him within a couple of hours if that’s it. Since he got diarrhea after you gave him vegetable oil, it sounds like this has lasted for awhile. If he is still alive, it’s most likely parasites simply because that is the #1 cause of death in goats, and virtually everything will cause a goat to be lethargic and stand in the corner. I’d have to know a ton more info to be able to help you. How long have you had him? When you say he won’t drink, are you talking about water or milk? If you haven’t had him very long, you might not realize how little water a goat that age drinks? Does he have a fever?

      Reply
  24. Are there any other things that could cause white froth? I have a goat that had some froth on his mouth this morning. He is alert and moving around, but I’ve never had this happen before. He doesn’t feel bloated, and he doesn’t seem to be struggling to breathe or anything. He is usually on pasture, but I kept him off it today. If his conditions worsen in any way, I’m taking him to the vet.

    I’ve seen a few things saying meds can cause froth. In your experience, can that happen? He’s currently on cocci meds, but I have 2 other goats on cocci meds and they don’t have froth.

    Reply
    • You said he, so the first thing that comes to mind is a zinc deficiency, which can be caused by too much calcium if you are feeding alfalfa hay to bucks or wethers. They do not need the calcium in the alfalfa, so it binds with zinc, causing deficiency. You just stop feeding the alfalfa, and it corrects itself within about two weeks. Here is more info —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/zinc-deficiency-goats/

      Reply
  25. Are there other things high in calcium? He has only been on grass hay, pasture, and occasional table scapes for the past month or so. I gave him some cooking oil just in case. Since this morning, it looks like the froth has decreased.

    Reply
    • Goats should not have table scraps. They actually have a very sensitive digestive system, which is easily upset. It’s ironic that so many people think they can eat anything because that’s completely opposite to the truth. There are a lot of things that can happen to a goat’s rumen other than just bloat.

      As for a zinc deficiency, that would also be possible if he didn’t have a good mineral available free choice, or if you are feeding him something else high in calcium. If you’re feeding table scraps, I can’t even begin to guess what kind of nutrients are in his diet. I do hope you have not been feeding him meat and dairy products.

      Reply
      • No, no, nothing like that. He gets things like banana peels, strawberries, bread crust, apples, and sometimes vegetables like okra and green beens. If in doubt, I research it before I feed it to them. I think he has ManaPro goat mineral. It’s the only loose goat mineral available in my area.

        I checked all the labels, and it looks like some stuff I’ve been giving him to help knock down the cocci, has calcium in it. So anything he doesn’t absolutely need, I’m going to take away for awhile.

        He is still eating and drinking and still has plenty of energy. Earlier today, I didn’t see any froth so I’m cautiously optimistic.

        Reply
        • If you have been giving him a medicated feed, that should not be done long term. It is just meant to be fed short term — like 3-4 weeks — during times of stress, such as weaning or moving to a new home. Feeding a coccidiostat long term has been linked to vitamin E deficiency.

          As for the other food … it really depends on the amount you feed him. A couple bites of something new is probably okay, but if he eats too much of something new, it could cause a digestive upset.

          Reply
  26. My goat has been bloated for several day. I have dewormed her and that didn’t help. She still eat and drinks. She also urinate and poops normal. I have just now give her 1/4 cup of olive oil with a teaspoon of baking soda. How long should I wait to see if that helps.

    Reply
    • Your goat is not bloated. As I explain in the article, a goat will die from bloat within a few hours if not treated. Sounds like your goat has hay belly from stuffing herself. You may have a problem with dewormer resistance, or you may have given the wrong dosage of dewormer since there is nothing correctly labeled for goats (not even the one that says it is for goats). Which dewormer did you use? How much does the goat weigh? How much dewormer did you give her?

      Reply
      • I use the brand safe-guard dewormer for goats. I have never had her weighed but estimate about 75-100 pounds. I have her the dosage for 75 pounds of 1.7 ml.

        Reply
        • That is not enough. The company got approval more than 20 years ago with the cattle dosage. University researchers discovered in the early 2000s that you need 2x the cattle dosage when using dewormers for goats. This is why you hear so many people say that Safeguard doesn’t work. It does not work at the dose on the label, and since goats are a minor species in the US, the company won’t attempt to get FDA approval for a new label.

          Safeguard is a very safe dewormer. The margin of safety is astronomical, so you should always go with the higher weight, so you should have given her twice the dose for a 100 pound goat.

          At this point, the surviving worms are probably resistant to the Safeguard, so it won’t work very well. If you only have a few goats, some people will buy the horse dewormer — ivermectin. Their dosage is closer to goats, so you just need to round up on the weight. You can give her the Safeguard and then give her the ivermectin a minute later.

          I’d also suggest checking the inside of her eyelids to see if they are pale. They should be red or dark pink. If they are light pink or white, that means she is anemic, which is often caused by barber pole worm, which sucks the goat’s blood.

          Reply
          • Our goats got some beets this am and I believe one of the wethers has had a piece of beet stuck in his throat still this evening. The closest thing I have found on your website is your reference to “choke bloat”. I know he is not truly bloated since he is burping. he is peeing a lot despite not having drank much and poop is normal. Everytime he ate today after the beets, it caused him to froth and shake his head, and vomit whatever he just ate. He has not laid down yet but tonight he was burping and chewing. They have free choice baking soda & mineral (with suffcient copper as you recommend, since we are on a well) he licked some olive oil from a bowl before i could fill the syringe, we can feel something in there and able to move it, but my worry was moving it too far in either direction and getting it lodged where he cant breath. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a good goat vet on our area to call, any thoughts? Should we continue more olive oil, to try and lubricate the beet? Is it better to massage his neck upward, or down, not at all? By the time you probably read this, Jubilee will (hopefully) be totally fine but curious in case it happens again-Thank you!

          • Sorry I am just now seeing this. I do hope your goat is fine. The textbook answer for choke bloat is exactly what you’ve done to attempt to get it to go down the throat. I would have thought that if he were eating other food and swallowing, that would have pushed down the chunk of beet. Any chance you are close to a veterinary teaching hospital at a university? I have to drive two hours to get to one, but they have great diagnostics and knowledgeable vets.

  27. Thank you for the reply! Jubilee was normal by the next morning but the whole tribe seemed pretty tired after staying up all night with him…
    Just to be clear, if this happens again, after the oil, we should massage the piece down his throat towards his belly, right? Not try and bring it up?
    Jubilee loved the olive oil, is there such a thing as too much oil for goats in this instance?
    The closest teaching hospital is Oregon State 3.5 hours North of us, BUT! I contacted the OSU extension center and my neighborhood group, both suggested a traveling vet only 40 mins North:) thank you again, your site is always my first go-to with my goat questions!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad to hear Jubilee is better! I’m sure that was very scary! From what I’ve read, trying to push down the chunk is usually the best option. There is probably a level of oil that would be bad for a goat, but I have not seen what that amount is. But I’m thinking that you’d probably give up and go to a vet before you reached that level. I’m glad to hear you find my website helpful.

      Reply
  28. MERRY XMAS AND HELP! This morning makes buckling #6 lost to frothy bloat in 2 weeks. Becuase of heavy rains or morning dew, we cut their grazing time in half + feeding oat hay in AM and evening. We only feed a small amount of alfalfa pellet in the AM. They always have baking soda available for feed bloat. We still keep losing them.

    Yesterday, we reached one in time. We have an olive orchard so oil is always on hand. We left him in the barn breathing calmly but not walking. An hour later, he still died. In 4 of the 6, there was also diarrhea. I don’t think parasites because no signs of anemia in any of them.

    I am at a complete loss

    Reply
    • Bloat is usually something that just happens to a random goat here or there. It’s not something that goes through your herd like this. Especially with diarrhea, this sounds like it could be something infectious. Have you ever checked temperature on any of them? Not all parasites cause anemia. Have you had a fecal done? It sounds like you are just finding dead goats. If all of them are bucklings, my best guest would be coccidiosis. What symptoms have you seen that makes you think it is frothy bloat? After you have a second or third goat die in a short time frame, it is always a good idea to have a necropsy done with lab work.

      Reply
    • Long-acting dewormers are not recommended for goats because they stay in the system at a VERY low level for a long time, meaning that lots of worms get exposed to the dewormer at a low level, so rather than being killed, they develop immunity to the dewormer, so it no longer works. Which dewormer was used exactly? Cydectin (moxidectin) or ivermectin? What was the dosage? If your vet didn’t know about long-acting dewormers, I’m concerned he or she may have used the incorrect dosage also. They should get most dewormers at twice the cattle dosage. When was the drug given?

      Reply
  29. Hi my goat has a swollen stomach and its hard on the left side it doesn’t want to eat anything only takes water and little amounts I tried giving it baking soda but it doesn’t seem interested ,I gave it vegetable oil but the stomach is still hard and the goat is still down what should I do because this is my first year in goat keeping and I know little about them

    Reply
    • That definitely sounds like bloat. If you’ve tried baking soda (you can mix it with water and use a drench syringe) and you’ve tried oil and you see no improvement, you need to get him to the vet ASAP.

      Reply
      • You should include this in your blog post. I didn’t read all these comments til after the fact (although I did read quite a few looking for answers). But I checked you, Delci, Weed em and Reap, and a few others and no one said what to expect after the dose has been given. Gave him some goat bloat surfactant, he ate some baking soda and had a little water and timothy hay. We lifted his front end up many times, walked him around off and on for an hour and massaged his stomach in between short walks. But I couldn’t find anywhere how to tell what we were doing was working. Or a time frame. Like: after an hour if you see no improvement, then it’s time to call a vet. No one gave any indication how long it may take for the surfactant to work. Not even on the bottle. Or how soon you can give more. No one mentions it about cooking oil either. No one said how soon you can give cooking oil after giving the goat bloat surfactant. Or if you should keep the goat inside and monitor 24hrs til symptoms persist. It was always just “try this and this and good luck!” But this comment you replied to Lulinda, should 100% be on the blog post so people who are coming to your website can find it easily. It probably would have saved our goat. Had I known, I would have called a vet.

        Reply
        • I’m so sorry to hear you lost your goat. The third sentence in the article says, “A goat with bloat will die within hours if not treated.” A few paragraphs later, I wrote, “…a buildup of gas cannot be released from the goat’s rumen, putting pressure on the heart and lungs and ultimately causing death. If you are not seeing fast improvement in treating a goat with bloat, you should call the vet.” If you were upset when reading, however, I can see how you might not see that. I will edit the post to put those sentences in bold.

          There is no exact time when you should call the vet. It depends on the condition of the goat. Reading your description, if I were in your situation. I would have called the vet after about 20-30 minutes if there was no improvement from giving a bloat medication. It sounds like a very incapacitated goat, and even if he didn’t have bloat, you needed a vet. That is the most important thing to remember about goats — always — if they can’t stand, and they are refusing food, call the vet immediately unless you know what’s wrong and can take immediate action to fix it.

          Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are people who think their goat is bloated just because it has a big belly, and if those people choose to treat their goat and it still has a big belly 30 minutes later, they don’t really need to call their vet.

          I can’t be too specific about how many hours a goat can have bloat before dying because you never know how long a goat has had bloat when you find it, and I don’t want anyone to think that they have a specific amount of time to do something before the goat dies. It could die 5 minutes after you find it because it’s already been bloated for a few hours.

          Reply
  30. I have an almost 10 week buckling that has a very round belly. He is eating brome hay, have free mineral and baking soda available. Eating 1/2 cup of purina goat chow each day. He’s pooping, drinking and peeing fine. He is just really round. I gave him and his sister (same age) 1.5 oz of positive pellet dewormer on Monday. He’s still very round. He has good energy. I’m thinking he may need a different dewormer. Their eyelids are somewhat pale. He is 13.4 pounds and his sister is 9.2 pounds. What dewormer and how much should I give them?

    Reply
    • They are SEVERELY underweight! They have not been getting enough milk from the beginning. Assuming these are Nigerian dwarf goats because they are the smallest breed, they should be at least 20 pounds by 10 weeks. If you were bottle-feeding please start doing that again. If they were nursing, they need to continue nursing until they reach 20 pounds.

      Since they need to grow lots more bones, they need a lot of calcium, so alfalfa hay would be much better for them as it has 2x the amount of calcium in it that grass hay has. And I don’t normally recommend medicated feed, but in this case, I would buy a bag of medicated feed and use that until it’s gone to try to control coccidia growth. Medicated feed should not be used long-term, so just one bag and then go back to Purina Goat Chow.

      That pelleted dewormer is not really effective. You could try the Safeguard for goats, but current research shows that you need to use 2x the dosage on the label.

      Reply
  31. Hello again! I just wrote to you the other day about my goat having false pregnancy and witnessing the cloudburst, and now I am dealing with what looks like a mild case of frothy bloat. I think she went out after the rain today and ate some wet grass, when I came home I found a pile of frothy white foam sort of greenish, on a pile on the floor and then I noticed her spitting up that same stuff. After she tried eating some hay. She has eaten again since then and hasn’t thrown up again but I’m just wondering what I could do to possibly help Her get through this. She has had a rough week! Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Frothy bloat is first and foremost bloat. So she would be very unhappy, standing in the corner or laying in the corner, and her left side (rumen) would be hard like a drum. You would not be able to press in on it. If you press in on the rumen, and it pushes in like cookie dough, that’s normal. If she is down and her rumen is hard like a drum, then you should do a vegetable oil drench.

      If you have free choice baking soda available, goats can self medicate if they eat something that upsets their rumen a little. I know it’s saved our goats more than a few times when they got into the chicken grain or busted into the milking parlor and overate their own goat feed (grain).

      Foaming at the mouth can be due to zinc deficiency and other things, but zinc deficiency is probably one of the most common reasons.

      Reply
      • OK, she seems to be a little bit better now, although a little bit more vocal than usual. She is eating or minerals more, so maybe it is zinc? But they’re out all the time and so is the baking soda so hopefully she’ll be good. I’ll just keep checking on her thank you again!

        Reply
        • That doesn’t sound like bloat, if she’s better. I’d refill the baking soda just to be on the safe side.

          What brand of mineral do you have?

          Reply
  32. I don’t know if my goat is bloated or not. She’s still eating, but her belly is very big and soft. She looks like she is in pain, she walks very slow to. I have no idea what see has.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • If her belly is soft, that is not bloat. It could be hay belly, which is caused by a parasite overload. If she is walking very slowly, that could mean she is anemic from the barber pole worm sucking her blood. Pull down her lower eyelid. It should be dark pink or red. If it is light pink or white, she is anemic, which is usually caused by barber pole worm, and she will need to be treated for worms. When goats have worms and are anemic, they are starving, so they eat as much as they can, which causes the big belly.

      Reply

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