5 Common Illnesses Within a Goat’s Nose

From Runny Goat Noses to Nasal Bots

5 Common Illnesses Within a Goat’s Nose

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A goat’s snout is meant to be petted, cuddled, and rubbed. These small ruminants provide milk, meat, and even fiber, and to do so they must be kept in optimal health. Many goat illnesses begin with telltale signs in a goat’s nose and nasal passage. A runny nose can escalate quickly, turning into an upper respiratory condition or even pneumonia.  

Being a steward to our livestock, requires us to be aware of their everyday health, observant of how each animal behaves and looks. Each morning and evening, take the time to look over your herd. Watch them eat and walk, see who lags behind, look at their eyes, snout, gums, and fleece. A quick wellness check will tell you wonders about how a herd member is doing.  

Look for a runny nose, blisters, or sores around and within the nostrils. If any of these signs are present, grab your first aid/medical kit and brace yourself to treat any sick goats quickly. 

Your goal is to prevent a minor illness from escalating into something more deadly. Here are five common diseases goat keepers need to watch for.  

Runny Noses in Goats 

Multiple factors cause runny noses in goats. Some causes are uncontrollable, whereas some are related to conditions in which the goat lives. 

  • stress 
  • dust from unkempt stalls or dust moving with the wind 
  • allergies 
  • viruses 
  • exposure to draft or wetness 
  • and even heat can cause a runny nose 

Closely watch a runny nose. Even a mild respiratory case can quickly turn into pneumonia. 

A Typical Cold 

Much like humans, goats can contract a non-life-threatening cold. Typical symptoms include clear to cloudy mucus and watery eyes with no fever present. However, because goats are so susceptible to respiratory illness, it is best to keep a close eye on them. 

To minimize the length of a cold, offer natural food items to boost the immune system and minimize the illness length. Look for vegetables high in vitamin A, offer echinacea fresh or dried, and provide probiotics such as fermented foods, water kefir, or raw apple cider vinegar. 

Regularly check the sick goat’s temperature to ensure its health is not declining.  

Upper Respiratory Condition 

A mild respiratory condition can quickly lead to a dangerous one, especially when goat kids are involved. A goat kid with an undeveloped immune system can become severely ill and die within hours of contracting a respiratory issue. 

With upper respiratory infections, look for nasal discharge symptoms, coughing, sneezing, elevated body temperature, and appetite loss. Nasal discharge can affect one or both nostrils. However, it is not uncommon for a goat’s nasal passage to be blocked as well. A goat with a blocked nasal passage will have a difficult time breathing.  

Keep in mind: an upper respiratory condition can quickly turn into a case of pneumonia in goats. 

Nasal Oestrosis Caused by Nasal Bots 

Nasal bots are a common condition in goats and sheep around the world. The condition is caused when Oestrus ovis flies lay their eggs outside of a goat’s nose. When the fly larva hatches, it migrates into the goat nose and settles within the sinuses. Over time the nasal cavity becomes irritated, causing excessive sneezing and discharge from the nostrils.  

Within a few weeks to a few months, the larvae fall out of the nasal cavity or are expelled as the goat sneezes. The larvae then pupate in the soil and emerge as flies, creating a vicious, ongoing cycle.  

Oestrus ovis, the sheep/goat bot fly.

Aside from discomfort, a secondary bacterial infection can easily settle in. At this point, antibiotic treatment is often needed to eliminate the infection.

Severe cases of nasal oestrosis will be treated with an internal parasite dewormer. In addition to a deworming medicine, regular pasture rotation minimizes the presence of Oestrus flies. Once a herd moves to a new pasture, your ducks and chickens can move into the newly vacated pasture to consume flies and larvae. 

Pneumonia in Goats 

With high susceptibility to contracting pneumonia, many goats have difficulty recovering from a severe case. Some apparent symptoms include clear or whitish nasal discharge, coughing, high fever (104 to 106 degrees F), lack of appetite, labored breathing, discharge at the eyes, and at times, frothing of the mouth and nose. 

When caught right away, pneumonia in goats is treatable. Your veterinarian will probably treat the illness with antibiotics: penicillin, amoxicillin, ampicillin, oxytetracycline, erythromycin, tylosin, or enrofloxacin. 

Until your veterinarian’s arrival, it is best to isolate the sick goat and keep it as warm as possible. Monitor the goat’s temperature frequently. It is easier to bring down the temperature than it is to elevate it. Try to keep a sick goat hydrated by offering an electrolyte solution. 

These goat illnesses have one symptom in common: they all begin with a runny nose. Not to mention, a runny nose, along with the other symptomatic conditions, can quickly lead to pneumonia in goats. It is best to monitor a runny nose closely and not to assume it is something minor.  

What is a normal goat temperature?  

Healthy goats range from 101-103 degrees F, measured with a rectal thermometer. They measure a degree higher if the goat has been running around or the day is hot. Temperatures below 101 degrees F may indicate shock and temperatures above 104 degrees F generally indicate fever/infection. 

Originally published in the 2021 special issue of Goat Journal — Goat Health from Head to Hoof Vol. 2 — and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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