Whats wrong with my goat?

niffer(z5 Ontario)May 6, 2009

Hi All,

We have a goat who seems to have pain in his front feet (possibly legs, hard to be sure). He alternatly lifts his front feet off the ground I assume to get weight off them because they hurt. His legs will also sometimes quiver when he stands up. He lays down a lot more than usual and only sometimes follows his friends down the run. We've had him off grass for 2 weeks, and had the vet out 3 times. He was treated with penicillin for a week (foot rot or infection) with no improvement and and is now on a medicine to improve the circulation in his feet (laminitis)for the last week with no improvement. He has been on pain meds for the entire two weeks and is still "prancing" and acting like there is pain. The vet maintains its laminitis, but there was never any heat in his feet and with no improvement I'm beginning to doubt his diagnosis. Any ideas? We've got 2 other goats that are fine, no problems at all. Please help! Thanks a lot.


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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Call another vet for an another opinion asap. I assume the hoofs were checked for punctures, etc. I don't know about hoof rot - can do internal damage to the hoof? If it is laminitis you should be walking him to keep the circulation going in his feet. Do goats have digital pulses like horses? I have just never heard of a goat with laministis but I guess it can happen. I would also contact any goat breeder in your area that you know. A second opinion could be quite valuable right now!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:10AM
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What are his hooves like? Are they soft and easy to trim or are they hard like concrete? We had a goat founder (laminitis) with no symptoms previously to explain it. Her hooves became like concrete to trim, but she never limped. Why did the vet think it was hoof rot? Were they mushy and white on the bottom? Also, CAE can affect their knees, are they swollen at all?

What is he eating if he is off grass?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 1:40PM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

His feet have been hard to trim...we've had to soak them a bit to soften them up. He thought it was hoof rot because there was a bit of soft black just inside the hoof, but its gone (we trimmed very short for a few weeks). He did a blood test that came back negative for CAE, and his knees aren't swollen. He is eating hay right now and at night he gets a few tablespoons of grain just so we can get his medicine into him. He can get to a wee bit of grass along the edges of the fence, but I doubt its enough to founder on. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 6:10PM
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I thought of grass/hay, when you said he was off of grass. So, I was wondering what he was eating. I wouldn't think a bit of regular grass would founder him. It is a puzzle why his feet are so tender. Does he play rough with other goats, like butt-head stuff? Could he have gotten injured on his shoulders or legs?

I hope he improves over time. When my goat foundered her feet were just like stones. I had to file them instead of trimming with hoof trimmers. I even had a farrier look at them and he couldn't help me. I think my goat had some metabolic problems that caused her hooves to turn to stone.

Good luck and I hope he improves. Keep us apprised.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 8:51PM
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I just have a few thoughts,

There's some good advice about treating laminitis given here. Additionally I would dip the hooves in copper sulfate or zinc oxide as a precaution, this will harden the hooves more so you might opt for a 10% bleach solution to treat/rule out hoofrot or scald. I'd treat for a minimum of 7 days. We breed for hard hooves here as our wet season can cause problems & hard hooves fare much better, trimming is a tough job though.
CAE testing is not a 100% accurate test unless it's taken from the dam's cholestrum, but a good visual indication of CAE is the lack of kneepads & swollen knees in older goats. How old is he?

I'd re-check his hooves, there could be a sliver or something you missed & by now it would start festering & abcessing making it easier to see. One other thought, how's his trim? An overcut heal can be painful walking.

Good luck & keep us posted.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 5:23AM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

They don't play all that rough, and he plays less than his sisters. His knees are not swollen, and I don't think we trimmed his heels too far. His hooves weren't that hard to trim, they are alays harder to trim when its been dry for a few days. They will be three years old tomorrow. What does hoof rot/scald look like? Are these 2 separate things? I looked online for hoofrot and saw severely damaged hooves, but they don't look like it. His hooves themselves look normal to me. I'm really starting to doubt laminitis but we agreed to give these drugs the weekend. I started walking him around and he wants to lay down all the time and his front legs shake. All of this being said, he has always walked differently from the girls. When he steps forward he splays his legs outwards from the shoulders, we always called it his swagger and assumed it was normal wether walking. Could this be an indicator of something? Do you know if I can post a small video so you can see what I mean? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 4:39PM
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Just a thought, is your area deficient in any minerals like copper? I read copper deficiency can affect young kids with muscle weakness and shaking legs and it could be the reason he has always walked "funny". Your vet would probably know if your area is deficient in any vitamins or minerals. Do you give your animals loose minerals? We are not a copper deficient area here, but sometimes certain areas don't have enough copper, selenium or magnesium and they aren't getting enough in their food. They can do a blood test to check to see if their levels are correct.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 6:46PM
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I wouldn't bother with the blood test for copper-been there done that. It is not accurate & is misleading, it measures the level of copper in the blood, what you need is the level of copper in the liver where it's stored, a live liver biopsy if your vet will perform it (risks involved). Copper deficiency often shows itself with white rings around the eyes, fishtails, faded/discolored hair, and secondly hoof & other issues.

Sweetlix makes a good loose mineral with copper. We feed SW Meatmaker here, and it's still not enough for our area. I have a link for mineral deficiencies in the US, but sorry not for Canada. Most hays & grains don't have enough nutrition in them, so minerals are a good idea anyways, just maybe not with added copper depending on your area. I would still treat the hooves w/copper sulfate & 10% bleach, can't hurt anyway.

No signs of CAE, no abcess or thorn in hoof, I agree with nhsuzanne, I think a 2nd opinion is in order. It's hard to diagnose over the internet, though if you can manage to send the video we may pick up on something.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 7:57PM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

The vet stopped by again tonight. Says he's obviously not in pain because the meds would have helped. He now thinks it is spinal (either an injury by the other goats or horse, or congenital). He called it "Ataxia", don't know about spelling. But said that it would be like the brain not sending correct messages to the feet ie like when our feet are asleep and we lift them and move them around to regain feeling and circulation. Does this sound plausible? They don't have loose minerals, just a mineral block they share with the horse, never heard of a deficiency in this area, but I'll look into it. He said he'll try a cortisone shot next week with some b12 vitamins and possibly some acupuncture. I tried to upload a video but can't. I could send one via regular email if anyone would send me their email address. Thanks everyone.
My email is jdoliveira@xplornet.com if you want to send it to me privately instead of posting it here. Take care.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 9:34PM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

Hey, I wonder if it is copper deficiency like you said because I just read an article saying that my forage and hay could be fine but there could be copper antagonists that act as blocks to absorbtion. Some of these are iron and manganese. We just had a water system put in that treats these minerals...we had no system for about 6 months and before that our water was treated with a peroxide pump. Maybe the 6 months without treatment brought this on...I'm going out tomorrow to get copper in some form or another to see if that will help him...I sure hope if thats the case that no lasting damage has been done. I'd still like to share my video if anyone would like to see it.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 9:58PM
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I have a goat doing similar acts Wondering if you found out what yours had

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 12:35AM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

Well dazy,
The final concensus was that its a spinal injury, whether it be old or new we don't know. Hes even now still doing it, but seems perfectly happy and not put out at all (can't say the same for my pocketbook!) That was a vet bill and a half! Hope your goat is alright :).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:34PM
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A few thoughts on your promblem. First make sure the vet is up to date on goats. They're different critters then horses and cows and not all small or large animal vets have a full understanding of them. I have been running about 130 head of goats for 10 years now. Have seen the problem a couple of time. I'm guessing founder myself. First question - Is the goat a big healthy goat on grain feed. If it is, take it off the grain and not the grass. If they have access to each others feed it may be eating more than it's share. Grain is the number one cause of founder and even more serious fatal problems. Is the goat walking on it's knees at all while it grazes? The hooves can be very hard but I have seen cases of founder where the hoof is quite normal. Whether it's founder or hoof rot the best treatment is to keep trimming the hoof a little each day or so until you get down to healthy pink tissue, but don't take so much off at one time that you cause the hoof to bleed. Scald usually looks like peeling around the hairline of the hoof and occurs in extra wet weather conditions so I doubt it's that. With time the goat should return to normal. But the most important thing to do with founder is to take them off all grain, not grass!! Been there and done it. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 3:57PM
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I know this is an old post but I have the exact same problem. Goat is less mobile, sometimes on her knees or lifting a foot at a time.
She eats grass during the day, brought in at night, and not fed grain. Can it be laminitis ?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 8:03PM
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