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Pneumonia In Goats

Treating Pneumonia In Goats

Special thanks for this article goes to:

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX

Treating Pneumonia In Goats

This is the information AppleJo Farms uses when treating pneumonia in goats and it has been very successful for us. Our experience: catch it right away and use the right drugs to treat it.

Goats as a species have difficulty maintaining internal body temperature, especially when weather conditions change rapidly. Pneumonia is often the result. They can tolerate hot and cold if the changes in temperature are gradual, but they have serious problems coping with wet and wind. Goats need roofed three-sided shelters to provide wind and rain protection (and shade, if your property doesn't have trees).

Pneumonia can be a year-around killer, but spring and summer are prime time for it to kill goats of all ages. Wide swings of temperature and sudden changes in climatic conditions, such as wet weather coupled with high daytime temperatures, high humidity, and much lower evening temperatures, can set the stage for pneumonia. Kids especially have trouble controlling body temperature, making them susceptible to pneumonia. The two most common causes of death in goats are worms and pneumonia. Wormy goats are more likely to develop pneumonia.

Interstitial pneumonia is the most common and deadly form of pneumonia in goats and its symptoms can be easily missed. Interstitial pneumonia has only one symptom: quick onset of very high fever (as high as 106*F or even higher), followed by rapid fall of core body temperature. When body temperature falls below 100*F, the goat's lungs are filling up with fluids and it is dying. The goat can appear healthy at night and be dead by morning. Death can occur in as little as four hours. If you aren't tuned in to your goats' normal behaviors ("thinking like a goat"), you can easily miss the onset of Interstitial pneumonia. If you do catch it and don't have appropriate prescription medications on hand, the goat is probably going to die.

Example: A goat that seemed healthy the night before but is not eating and is standing off by itself with tail and head down in the morning. Something is obviously wrong. If it has interstitial pneumonia, it is probably standing because fluids are building in the lungs. If down and unable to get up, the goat is likely already dying. If fever is present, that's a positive. Fever is easier to bring down than sub-normal body temperature is to bring up. You have a chance to save the goat with Nuflor Gold and Banamine injections. If rectal temperature is below 100*F, the chances are greatly reduced.

My personal experience (Texas) has been that goats can handle rapid hot-to cold cycles better than quick cold-to hot temperature changes. Regardless, wide and rapid swings of temperature make it difficult for all goats, adults and kids, to maintain body temperature. Having an immature immune system, kids are at high risk. Goats don't catch interstitial pneumonia from each other. Existing in the environment , this opportunistic bacteria latches on to an immuno-compromised goat, much like worms do to a lactating doe.

The first step in determining appropriate treatment is to take the sick goat's rectal temperature. Body temperature tells you which way to proceed. Fever indicates infection or inflammation. Example: A newborn with "weak-kid syndrome" will have sub-normal body temperature that requires a different treatment regimen from a kid running a fever caused by an infection. Without taking rectal temperature, you might misinterpret visual symptoms, wrongly diagnose the cause of the problem, and medicate the goat improperly. The animal may die because of incorrect treatment. See my article entitled Diagnosing Illnesses in Goats on the Articles page at

A significant temp is anything over 104.5 in kids and anything over 104 in adults.

If high fever is present, it must be brought down quickly. Fever-reducing medication and appropriate antibiotic therapy must be started immediately. If the illness has progressed far enough, the goat may try to sit down, moan with discomfort, then immediately stand up, because fluid has begun to accumulate in the lungs and abdomen and its kidneys are shutting down. A goat in this condition probably cannot be saved but I always try until efforts prove futile. A goat that wants to live can overcome amazing obstacles. But once the lungs fill with fluid, survival is unlikely. If I cannot save it, I do the humane thing and euthanize the goat to stop its suffering.

Baby aspirin can be used. Treat kids with at least one baby aspirin and adults with at least three baby aspirin. Do not use other pain relievers, such as Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, etc. --- only baby aspirin. Baby aspirin is not an equivalent or desirable alternative to Banamine, so buy a bottle of generic Banamine (flunixin meglumine) from your vet and be prepared.

Keep a supply of prescription medications on hand for emergencies. Nuflor, Nuflor Gold, and Excenel RTU are excellent antibiotics for respiratory illnesses and do not require refrigeration. These thick liquids must be administered through an 18-gauge needle into the muscle (IM) to get into the bloodstream quickly. Use a luer-lock syringe so that the needle does not blow off the syringe. Always carry prescription Epinephrine when giving injections in case of anaphylactic shock. Nuflor should be injected daily for five consecutive days at a dosage of 3 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight. Nuflor Gold, which provides some protection against mycoplasma that Nuflor does not have, should be dosed at 6 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight for five consecutive days. Minimum dosage for a newborn kid is 1/2 cc. Nuflor Gold is my antibiotic of choice for adult goats with respiratory illnesses. All antibiotics used with goats must be dosed for five consecutive days. Remember that we goat raisers have to use almost all medications off-label/extra-label, so label dosages aren't correct for goats.

Excenel RTU is a ready-to-use shelf-stable form of Naxcel that requires no mixing and no refrigeration, making it more convenient to use and store than Naxcel. Excenel RTU is dosed at 3 cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight for five consecutive days and should be given IM (into the muscle) using an 18-gauge needle. During the first 24 hours, I give two injections 12 hours apart, then daily for the next four days. Minimum dosage for a newborn is 1/2 cc. I prefer Excenel RTU with newborns and young kids.

 Always complete the five consecutive days of treatment even if the animal is looking better; relapses are common if you don't. Consult your goat veterinarian, establish a working relationship, and use these medications under vet supervision.

If access to prescription antibiotics is not available, then you will have to use over-the-counter penicillin or oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA200 or generic equivalent) Penicillin should be dosed at 5 cc's per 100 pounds body weight for five consecutive days, using a luer-lock syringe with an 18-gauge needle and injecting SQ over the ribs. I dose oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml using five (5) cc per 100 pounds bodyweight given SQ over the ribs with an 18 gauge needle for five consecutive days.

I am believer in using prescription antibiotics to treat pneumonia in goats. Nuflor, Nuflor Gold, and Excenel RTU are far more effective than over-the-counter products and are worth the extra expense. My experience raising goats since 1990 has taught me that single-shot or every-other-day injections of antibiotics are not effective with goats.

If present, chest congestion can be relieved by giving an expectorant-antihistamine-decongestant orally to the sick goat twice daily at a dosage of approximately six cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight.Children's antihistamine/decongestant/expectorant syrups (Robitussin DM) may have to be used since Expectahist is no longer available unless your vet will have a compounding pharmacist make it for you.

Keep the sick goat in a shaded, dry, free-from-draft location with plenty of fresh water, electrolytes, free-choice grass hay, and green leaves. No sacked feed. If the animal is not drinking water, orally drench with electrolytes (Bounce Back or ReSorb). If dehydration is severe, sub-cutaneous (SQ) delivery of Lactated Ringers Solution (vet prescription) or IV delivery by a vet is necessary. Refer to my articles about (a) dehydration and (b) how to make and use a stomach tube on the Articles page at A 100 pound goat needs one gallon (3,840 cc) of fluids in small amounts over a 24 hour period. You cannot syringe by mouth enough fluids into a goat daily, and if you try, you can cause the goat to aspirate fluid into its lungs and kill it. Stomach tubing is easy and much safer.

Never forget the beneficial effect of green leaves(the goat's natural food). Oak, elm, and hackberry are favorites; do not feed cherry leaves, as they are toxic to goats. Azaleas, lantana, and other "ornamental" plants are also toxic to goats. Fresh green leaves are easily digestible. Don't try to feed grain concentrates to a sick goat. The rumen is *off* and cannot properly digest grains. If the goat is off feed, give Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) injections IM or SQ every 12 hours dosing at 4 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight. Brain function depends upon the availability of thiamine, and it takes a healthy rumen to produce it.

You can follow up all antibiotic treatments with an oral probiotic, but use it after the antibiotic regimen has been completed. Jeffers at 1-800-533-3377 or carries a variety of ruminant probiotics.

White or clear nasal discharge is usually allergy-related (not pneumonia), but if fever is present, then infection or inflammation exists and must be treated. Do not use antibiotics without proper diagnosis of the problem. Using antibiotics when they should not be used decreases their effectiveness when they are really needed because the goat's body develops resistance to the drugs. The ineffectiveness of penicillin with certain bacteria is an example of antibiotic overuse.

Pneumonia Prevention: Vaccinate

Pneumonia has become such a problem in goat herds that I have begun to use and recommend Presponse HM pneumonia vaccine by Beringer Ingleheim to prevent pneumonia. It is available over the counter from Jeffers Livestock. This is a cattle vaccine that I am using off-label for goats, so upon the recommendation of my veterinarian, I dose 1 cc SQ for all goats under 60 pounds live weight and 2 cc for goats over 60 pounds liveweight, given 3-4 weeks apart and annually thereafter. I have found the newer Presponse HM vaccine to be much more effective than the older Colorado Serum pneumonia vaccine, even though that vaccine was made for use with goats.

AppleJo Farms Note about Nuflor: Norfenicol (florfenicol) is the generic of Nuflor and carried by our Vet.

Treatment of pneumonia in goats

If you suspect your goat has pneumonia, this is what you should do:

  • Take their temperature. Diagnose properly. And if pneumonia is the cause of their sickness, begin treatment below. 

Treatment plan: 

  1. BANAMINE. The high temperature must be brought down immediately. This will also alleviate any pain and inflammation they are experiencing.
    • Dosage: IM 1cc per 100 pounds. Newborns/young kids: one-tenth to two-tenths of a cc.  or use baby aspirin for young goats, 1 every 6-8 hours.
  2. ANTI-BIOTIC. Nuflor, Nuflor Gold, Excenel RTU or Draxxin.
    • Nuflor:  18-gauge needle with a Luer-lock syringe. 3cc per 100 pounds body weight (IM) for 5 consecutive days.
    • Nuflor Gold: 18-gauge needle with a Luer-lock syringe. 6 cc’s per 100 pounds of body weight (IM) for 5 consecutive days. Provides some protection against mycoplasma that Nuflor doesn’t have. Newborn kids: a minimum dosage of 1/2 cc.
    • Excenel RTU: 18-gauge needle. 3 cc per 100 pounds of body weight (IM) for 5 consecutive days. The second dose is given 12 hours after the first and the next four doses are given 24 hours after the last. Newborns/young kids: great option. The minimum dosage for newborns is 1/2 cc.
    • Draxxin: More expensive than other alternatives. 1 cc per 100 pounds body weight (IM) for 5 consecutive days. 
    • Penicillin: 18-gauge needle. 5 cc per 100 pounds body weight (SQ over ribs) for 5 consecutive days.
    • LA200: 18-gauge needle. 5 cc per 100 pounds body weight (SQ over ribs) for 5 consecutive days. 
    • You may want to use Penicillin G and LA200 together.
    • Always have Epinephrine on hand when giving injections just in case of anaphylactic shock.
  3. ROBITUSSIN DMOnly if present, chest congestion can be relieved by giving Robitussin DM.
    • Dosage: twice daily at a dosage of approximately six ccs per 100 pounds body weight. 1-2 tenths of a cc for Newborn or young kids.
  4. ELECTROLYTES:  If the goat is dehydrated, replenish fluids with electrolytes by orally drenching the goat. In a 24 hour period, a 100-pound goat needs 1 gallon of fluids. This will be given in small amounts throughout the day. With newborn and very young kids, 1-2 drops at a time each 30-60 minutes. But great care must be taken so that the goat does not aspirate the fluids into its lungs.
  5. THIAMINE: Thiamine must be given if the goat is off feed. Their brain function depends on it and their rumens produce it. But will stop producing it if they are off feed. 
    • Dosage: 4 ccs per 100 pounds of body weight (IM or SQ every 12 hours).
  6. PROBIOTICS: After any round of antibiotics replenish a goat with probiotics. These probiotics work great: Probios
  7. VACCINATE: Consider vaccinating your herd if pneumonia is a problem. Presponse HM Pneumonia Vaccine by Beringer Ingleheim. Jeffers carries this over the counter from Jeffers Livestock. 
    • Dosage: 1 cc SQ for goats under 60 pounds and 2 ccs for goats over 60 pounds. Repeat dosage 4 weeks later. And then annually after that.
  8. HEALTH AND HOUSING: Always provide dry, clean pens and provide areas that are out of the weather. Your goats need continual access to excellent hay and mineral. They will need to be kept worm free. A healthy goat will be able to fight off sickness much more readily than an unhealthy goat. 

Just remember you must always watch very carefully the behavior of your goat so you can catch any sickness quickly.

Special thanks for this article goes to the author:

 Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX

How to Boost the Immune System

Get a bottle of Bo-Se from your vet. If your goat isn't thriving or has been ill, give injection of 1cc/40 lbs one time daily for 3 days; then give 1 time every other day for 3 days; then 1 time per week for 1 month.

Pneumonia Prevention: Vaccinate

Pneumonia has become such a problem in goat herds that I have begun to vaccinate my herd with the Pneumonia Vaccine. Some recommend Presponse HM pneumonia vaccine by Beringer Ingleheim to prevent pneumonia. This is a cattle vaccine that is used off-label for goats, so upon the recommendation of your veterinarian, I dose 1 cc SQ for all goats under 60 pounds live weight and 2 cc for goats over 60 pounds liveweight, given 3-4 weeks apart and annually thereafter. Some say Presponse HM vaccine to be much more effective than the older Colorado Serum pneumonia vaccine, even though that vaccine was made for use with goats.
From Jeffers: I use Colorado Serum pneumonia vaccine with success personally.
  • Pasteurella (Pneumonia) Vaccine:
Mannheimia Haemolytica-Pasteurella Multocida Bacterin
For vaccination of healthy goats, sheep, and cattle as an aid in the prevention of pneumonia caused by Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida.
  • Dosage:
Give first at 6 weeks and then repeat in 2-4 weeks. Inject 2 mL SQ and repeat in 2-4 weeks. 21-day slaughter withdrawal.
Brand: Colorado Serum
Form: Injectable
Reviews: " I have found that it has saved the lives of our goats and sheep ever since we started using it. I give the required shot with a booster two weeks later for the first time I use it on a goat or sheep. After that, I give them a booster shot once a year and have not had any issues with pneumonia in my livestock since. We live in a desert plains area where in the spring and fall the weather and temps fluctuate a lot from hot to cold. But because we are also on the desert prairies of central Washington, we also get the extreme cold wind chill factors in the wintertime. The Pasteurella has saved the loss of our herds due to pneumonia as long as we make sure that they get their vaccines."
  • Prevention Type: Shipping Fever (Pneumonia), Respiratory

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.

AppleJo Farms is dedicated to breeding, nurturing and placing Registered Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats with Farms where they will flourish!


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