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Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. We are not veterinarians. Neither nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
PLEASE keep in mind, just because there is a DVM after the name does not mean they have the proper answers for goat owners 'Caveat emptor'- You need to find a responsible GOAT Vet


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In Depth Article Goat Bloat
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 03 March 2008

Bloat - What IS Bloat and How to Treat Bloat

Med-A-Goat 911™Goat Care Article Bloat - Goatlady and her Goats - Goat Care Article

Untreated Bloat WILL Result in Death

Bloat in Goats

There are 2 types of bloat and each has it's own treatment for release.

Quick Reference for Immediate Care

Most Common Type of Bloat - Free Gas Bloat (Dry Bloat or Gassy Bloat) Treatment:

  • Check Airway for any Obstructions!
  • Stand goat up and walk it
  • Massage Rumen (Upper left side) using kneading as if kneading bread and patting firmly as you would a baby
  • Administer Baking Soda orally either dry in your hand, or in a TBSP with enough added water to make a paste
  • If no response visually is seen in the amount of distention in the upper left hand stomach area-you will need to pass a tube into the rumen to allow trapped gas to escape
  • After the release of the gases, administer orally a probiotic to refresh rumen flora

Bloat after Pasture on Lush Grass -Frothy Bloat (Legume Bloat) Treatment:

  • Check Airway for any Obstructions!
  • Administer an anti foaming agent (ie: Tide Laundry detergent powder (1 TSP mixed with approx 60ccs water),Therabloat (3ccs mixed with 30 cc water),DiGel (4-6 TBSP) DO NOT Tube with OIL!
  • Administration of the anti foaming agent should reduce the bloat almost immediately
  • After the release of the gases, administer orally a probiotic to refresh rumen flora
  • IF and I DO say IF.. all treatment is not working and the goat is in such distress as you feel it will die shortly and there is No time to call your vet,you will need to use a trocar to release the gas But this is a dire emergency situation ONLY (read more below:)

If the bloat continues after either of these treatments CALL YOUR VET

More thorough Explanations of Treating Bloat in Goats:

  2. check first for any obstructions in the mouth or throat that can be causing the bloat!
  3. Get goat on it's feet if down and start walking it around
  4. Elevate front end of goat if laying down
  5. Massage & Pat rumen (high on left side of goat behind last rib) to help release gas ( the same method as you would use to burp a baby)
  6. If goat start to belch up gas, then give it a tablespoon baking soda,either dry or in a small amount of water (I find putting it in a tablespoon and adding enough water to make a paste works very well as goats are a natural for spoon feeding with the upper dental pad)
  7. If the gas does NOT come up with belching while massaging the rumen administer TIDE laundry detergent (one tablespoon of Tide powder mixed with approx 60 cc of water) carefully via tubing
  8. If all other methods are not producing a relief from the excess gas, then is the time for the decision to use the trocar

    Early Symptoms of Bloat
  1. Goat shows signs of tight rumen area- left side being much fuller than the right side
  2. Off feed
  3. Hanging head or holding neck straight out
  4. Grinding teeth
  5. Moaning or groaning
  6. Crying out while kicking at belly (if this is a wether make sure to determine that this is Not urinary calculi)
  7. Goat not chewing cud
  8. Goat not belching (goats belch many times an hour typically)
  9. No rumen sounds when you put your ear to left side (normally should sound like a "gurgling stomach")

    Late Stages of Bloat
  1. Goat crying out in pain
  2. Obvious extreme distress
  3. Gasping for air
  4. Tongue and lips turning blue
  5. Goat down and unable to rise
  6. Eyes starting to "roll" back in head

    What causes Bloat?
  1. Too much gas forming in the rumen and not being expelled by belching
  2. Obstruction in mouth or throat not allowing gas to come up and out
  3. Eating too much grain or rich hay - causing an imbalance in the rumen flora
  4. Any illness or medications (antibiotics) that may inhibit the natural flora from breaking down the ruminal contents
  5. Being let out to eat lush pasture while the dew is still wet
  6. Laying in a manner where the head is downhill making the rumen lay in a more forward direction and placement thus not allowing the gas to come out

Ruminants being "cud chewing" animals digest their food in a fairly complex manner. One important role of the digestion is fermentation of the food in the largest stomach, the rumen. While this fermentation takes place, gas bubbles occur and typically the goat will belch quite often releasing this gas.. which is perfectly normal (and at times can smell really good but this is my opinion *S*).. When the gases cannot escape for various reasons or too much fermentation is taking place at once..the bubbles get trapped and cause bloat.

shows gas in ruminant stomach
Click on image for larger view

Bloat is one of the easiest situations to recognize IF you know what you are looking for..( I can't tell you how many phone calls I have had in the past from distraught goat owners, scared to death their pygmy goat is bloated.. ) Like I said.. it is easy to recognize if you know what to look for:
Notice if the goat is feeling obviously uncomfortable, is hanging her head or holding her neck stretched out..she may be moaning, (grinding the teeth is a sign of discomfort..)she may grind her teeth, she may grunt or kick at her sides..she may just lay without any of these signs and the only thing you notice is she seems to be trying to breath out her mouth..

The best way for ANY physiological distress to be noticed is to KNOW each one of your goats and what they do when they are NOT sick; each goat is different.. so while Mary Lou may typically lay and moan and groan after she eats or while basking in the sun.. doesn't mean Sally Mae will do the same.. Know each goat's personality and make note, so when one Does get ill you will know what that particular goats does normally.

*Grinding teeth is not normal under any circumstances unless there is a discomfort somewhere..
Stand the goat up and take a look from the rear..Is the left side higher and fuller than the right side?.. when you tap the left side with your fingers is it tight like a drum?.. if so Most likely she is bloated..
This is a picture of a goat with the typical text book signs of bloat..Use it for reference..
typical bloat in a goat
Click image for larger view

This is my goat, Fancheon, who is really not a goat at all ..she is a pot bellied pig..*LOL*
They got especially rich alfalfa and she ate herself delirious in it.. She was fine after a few hours of massage and a handful of baking soda..and yes you do recognize her name from the Poem "Spring's First Kids" written when she was just a baby.

Free Gas Bloat
This is where the gas forms at the top of the rumen contents as a large mass of air.. when you palpate the rumen area you can feel the trapped gas. This is the easiest form of bloat to contend with..
Walking the goat around and rubbing the area of the rumen is sometimes all that is needed to expel the gas.. try to think as you massage the area that you are wanting to move the trapped gas "up and out" so when you massage the rumen in a kneading fashion with your fingertips.. massage in the direction of "up and out" toward the mouth.. Patting like you would a baby also helps..Once the gas starts to successfully move you can be fairly sure it is in fact, Free Gas and giving a TBSP of baking soda either dry or in a little water in a TBSP to make a paste, and administered orally will help the gas formations to actually increase and come together making them easier to burp out.. it works much like Alka Seltzer does for you..
Do NOT give baking soda until you have seen her burp some of the trapped gas out! It may take a couple hours to get that rumen back to normal size, that's ok as long as the trapped gas is coming out faster than it is forming. I always give Probiotic paste at this time as well to put the necessary flora back into the rumen for proper balance of microbes and bacteria needed for proper digestion.

bloat ruminant diagram
(The dotted lines representing the other stomaches show they are on the opposite side of the rumen, shown here in detail so you can see the placement of them. You would not see them from the left.)
Frothy Bloat
Frothy bloat is somewhat of a more difficult bloat to deal with. Instead of a large mass of air trapped on top of the rumen contents.. the gases are mixed in WITH the rumen contents..making a sort of whipped mess in there.. This is when you may have heard of people using mineral oil to relieve the gas..
Be CAREFUL using mineral oil.. Please..
The reason I say this is because oil typically has not much odor nor flavor (AND oil does not work nearly as well as Tide Dry detergent or therabloat or DiGel so I really do not recommend using oil at ALL)
but if this is the ONLY thing you have on hand.. oils don't really get cold so the combination of a tasteless ..odorless and temperature-less if you will, liquid being poured into the mouth of an animal can only be expected to be a surprise and many times too late and the oil has already been inhaled into the lungs.. which brings on the possibility of inhalation pneumonia.
If you have determined the bloat is frothy bloat because the gas is not easily expelled with a few pushes into the rumen area or the goat has froth on it's mouth (which in this case you need to determine if this is froth from bloat or a poison it has ingested.. ) An anti foaming agent can be of help if done properly and carefully.. and I DO MEAN carefully..
In all my years of goat keeping..I have used oil in less than 4 or 5 cases.. and then it scared the pidittles out of me..I hate the stuff..
If you need to use oil.. go get some olive or corn oil..from the kitchen.. something with flavor.. you can add some dry Koolaid to it if you like.. to give it more flavor.. this is what I do here if I need to use it.. Carefully, without tilting the head back AT ALL,using a 30cc needle-less syringe, in the side of the mouth a little at a time making sure the goat swallows between each administration..only give a few cc's at a time and stroke the throat between each.. making absolutely sure she has swallowed .. if she chokes even a little..

STOP! and tilt her head downwards..and pat the side of her chest helping her to cough it up.
At this point you will need to watch for inhalation pneumonia in the next days..
I have even picked the goat up and held it upside down and shook it.. yes adult goats.. one arm in front of the chest and the other under the belly and using my body for leverage putting the goat's weight across my hip and jumping up and down.. it works.. even in the case of removing something lodged in the throat .. (amazing what you can do in the time of crisis..)

Better yet, if you have the tubing.. it would be safer to go ahead and tube the goat to administer the anti foaming agent you are using..

Make sure you get the tube into the stomach and not the lungs!
Tubing an Adult Goat

As much as I do not like tubing a goat.. you would be MUCH safer in this case tubing her, making sure the tubing is in her stomach and not her lungs..and then administer the oil..
I don't mean to scare you.. but this is one of the few things in goat treatments that does scare me. The proper amount of needed oil for a 125 full grown goat would be 6 to 8 ounces which is quite a bit..
There are products on the market made for this.. one called Ther-a-bloat..I have never personally used it before.. but I understand it is a good product.. An old farmer treatment is to give Tide dry detergent (as it has anti foaming agents in it) and as prehistoric as it sounds, works very well!
In acute cases you may want to pass a stomach tube to relive the pressure- bloat kills because it places pressure on the heart and lungs and as a secondary illness enterotoxemia (so it is a good idea with severe cases of bloat to go ahead with an injection of CD ANTI-toxin to prevent enterotoxemia). The dose I use SubQ is 5ccs for kids and 15-20ccs for adults- never administering more than 5ccs per injection site
If all else fails.. and I do mean ALL ELSE and you have a goat who is going to die if nothing is done to relieve the bloat..nothing else you have tried to this point is working.. the animal is in extreme distress.. you do have one more option to try to save the life of the goat.. IF it can be saved..
The use of a Trocar.. which is an implement used to make a hole in the rumen wall and allow the gas to escape right through the animal's side.

trocar placement diagram for relieving gas from livestock-goats
Click image for larger view

The trocar is inserted behind the last rib into the bubble felt in the rumen high on the left side - shown here on a cow but placement is the same on a goat.
The cannula is left in place after the trocar is removed, allowing the opening made to remain open while the gas escapes. Gas should escape immediately,if it does not something else may be wrong with the goat or you could be dealing with a serious case of frothy bloat.
Get the goat to the vet immediately!

Most trocars come as a cannula and trocar.. (the trocar fits inside the cannula and once the implement is in the tissue.. the trocar is removed leaving the cannula in place to avoid collapse of the tissue- holding the opening open so to speak) -Do NOT remove the cannula- Allow the vet to do this!
This life-saving instrument can be bought for under $12.00

Once the goat has been stuck, DO NOT remove the cannula, go directly to the vet and have the incision sutured, as you have gone through the wall of the rumen as well as the muscle and fascia tissues.
Contents of rumen may spill into the peritoneum causing severe septicemia.
So while this is a life saver, it is also dangerously susceptible to infection and further damages if not treated properly afterwards.
trocar surgery repair
It is a difficult decision to have to make, since there are complications to deal with afterwards.. and now would not be the time to be squeamish..
I have had to perform technique only once. There will be no doubt in your mind when it is the right time to do it.

Odds are pretty good, however, that you will not have a trocar at hand. In a Very Dire emergency, you "can" use your sterilized pocket knife to make a 1" to 2" cut into the rumen. Immediately insert a piece of sterilized tube (or 3inch long 3/4" diameter piece of PVC into the hole to help prevent peritonitis. The gas should escape immediately if you have entered the rumen correctly. DO NOT remove the PVC pipe - let the vet do this!Take the goat to the emergency ER Vet clinic immediately. This is done for a do it or die situation ONLY.

For frothy bloat this opening needs to be an inch or so in diameter - administer therabloat or TIDE directly into the opening. Take the goat to the emergency ER Vet clinic immediately. This is done for a do it or die situation ONLY.

(I am not a veterinarian, these methods are what work for me. Any medical procedures should be verified with your veterinarian before administering to your animals.)

Should the copyright be violated, I will not be held responsible for any changes made and that may deem this article inaccurate. Legal action may be pursued.
(I am not a veterinarian, these methods are what work for me.
Any medical procedures should be verified with your veterinarian before administering to your animals.)


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 27 February 2010 )
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