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Bloat Causes & Treatment

Frothy Bloat in Goats
A goat with frothy bloat will die within hours if not treated.
Signs your goat might have frothy bloat:
  • This occurs when a goat eats a large amount of a rich food that she is unaccustomed to, for example: pasture rich in legumes (alfalfa, clovers), wet spring grass, grass cuttings, vegetable greens, cereals, and concentrates.
  • Any digestive issues should be taken very seriously and acted on fast. Goat bloat can very quickly develop and become life threatening.
  • Belching, belly rumbling, and chewing the cud are signs of a healthy digestive system in goats
  • As it takes in feed, the rumen expands the left flank of the goat, filling a hollow in front of the hip called the paralumbar fossa. A round belly does not mean that a goat is fat or bloated—it is a healthy sign of good feed intake.
  • Goats ferment vegetation inside the rumen through the action of various microbes (bacteria and protozoa). The process releases gas which goats expel through belching. While eating, food rapidly passes down from the mouth through the esophagus to the rumen. When the goat is at rest, cud passes back up to the mouth for more thorough chewing, before passing back down to the rumen for fermentation. If this cycle is interrupted, the goat can be in serious trouble. A buildup of gas that the goat cannot release causes bloat (ruminal tympany).
  • lack of appetite
  • discomfort
  • abdomen inflation high on the left side
  • pain/tense facial muscles
  • grinding teeth
  • kicking belly
  • bleating
  • stamping
  • frequent urination
  • stilted walk
  • difficulty breathing
  • lying down
  • frothy looking saliva (even bubbly)
Goat may show one or more of these symptoms increasingly as the condition progresses.
The left side of stomach will look larger as the condition progresses.
What can cause Bloat?
An obstruction in the throat or esophagus may prevent gas from escaping. This can occur when eating chunks of vegetable, like apple or carrot, or when other obstructions become stuck in the gullet. Abscesses, tumors, and inflammation can also obstruct the esophagus causing bloat. In this case, the pressure may eventually open the esophagus enough for some gas to pass through, resulting in a chronic case of periodic inflation and relief.
Eating of sand or inedible objects, such as plastic bags, cloth, and rope, or too much indigestible fiber, can occur where there is a lack of suitable forage. Impaction of these materials can block gas and result in bloat.
Goats that are lying on their side for a long time, possibly due to other sickness, or goats in an unusual position, such as stuck upside-down, will bloat as they are unable to belch gas in these positions.
A more common form of bloat is the frothy kind. In this case overactive microbes produce a foamy slime that coats the gas and seals it in the rumen. This occurs when a goat eats a large amount of a rich food that she is unaccustomed to, for example: pasture rich in legumes (alfalfa, clovers), wet spring grass, grass cuttings, vegetable greens, cereals, and concentrates.
Goats’ natural feed is a wide variety of long-fiber vegetation, and they are naturally keen to consume any high-energy tidbits they would only find occasionally in the wild. When we give goats a quantity of rich food, they gobble it up, but the unusual amount disrupts the rumen balance as microbes rapidly ferment the high-carbohydrate source.
Treatment: caught early on, you may be able to treat frothy boat on your own with bloat products. Have them on hand! The quicker you act the better.
If you do not or can not treat your bloated goat, get a vet immediately!
  • Note-Do NOT Confuse with: 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.
  • If in doubt, I go ahead and administer the Bloat Treatment immediately. It can only help their digestion and save them if it is bloat. Purchase online or at your local farm store. This is something you need to have on hand at all times. It was 5 years before I saw this in a goat, but being able to treat her with this immediately, saved her.

Bloat Treatment instructions: 






ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Each fl. oz. contains:

Docusate Sodium

240 mg

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: emulsified Soybean oil base.



INDICATIONS: For use as an aid in the treatment of Frothy Bloat in ruminants and as a fecal softener.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Do not use concurrently with mineral oil or other drugs.

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION: Administer as a drench, Goats: 6 fl. oz. 

View larger image of Bloat Treatment for Ruminants

Important! Please Read The Following 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. Much of my page content is from Veterinary Colleges and Manuals.

In all cases, it is your personal responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. JoAnna Mertz is not a veterinarian. Neither JoAnna Mertz nor nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

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