Treatment of Diarrhoea in Goats

Treatment of Diarrhoea in Goats

Diarrhoea, also known as scours, is defined as an increased frequency, fluidity and volume of faecal excretion.  Excretion often contains either of these two: blood or mucous; it is usually smelly. Adult goats are less susceptible to scours in comparison to young goats. However, they can be affected due to a number of reasons that include parasitism. Coccidiosis can occur in adults under extreme stress or due to lack of immunity. The ingestion of toxins can also cause diarrhoea. It is not uncommon for goats to scour when they are grazing lush or wet pasture. Other common causes of diarrhoea include cold and wet weather, poor sanitation, transportation, exposure to new animals, dehorning, vaccination, weaning and reduced feed intake. Both adult and young goats should be closely monitored to ensure their safety and timely treatment of diarrhoea in goats. Note that diarrhoea should not be considered as an independent, rather a symptom of other more serious health problems.

Table of Contents

Electrolyte Fluid Treatment

Use of oral electrolyte fluid is a common treatment of diarrhoea in goats. Goat electrolytes are a concentrated nutritional supplement fed at the first sign of scours. Treatment of diarrhoea using electrolytes restore nutrients and help the body maintain fluid balance to prevent dehydration. These mainly consist of acids, bases or salts. Electrolyte fluids include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. The main electrolyte found in body fluids is sodium, which helps maintain fluid balance. Other ingredients in goat electrolytes include:

  • Dextrose (glucose): Provides energy and helps maintain body condition
  • Sodium bicarbonate: Helps regulate blood pH levels for proper organ function
  • Direct-fed microbial or probiotics: Support immunity during times of stress
  • Prebiotics: Support digestive health
  • Glycine: Enhances the absorption of glucose for energy

Administration of Electrolytes

It is advisable for farmers to acquire relevant knowledge on the administration of electrolyte fluid treatment of diarrhoea in goats. Ill animals must be separated from the herd. Farmers must then assess the physical condition of the animal; rectal temperature should be taken prior to treatment. The ideal goat rectal temperature is approximately 101.5 to 105oF. Goats suffering from diarrhoea experience dehydration. To determine severity of the condition, pinch the goat’s skin along the neck. Extreme dehydration is indicated by skin that stays pinched or tented. Oral hydration through electrolyte fluid is necessary to replace body fluid lost through the scours. When administering treatment, make sure to stop providing milk as well as milk replacer. The milk must be replaced with an equivalent amount of electrolyte fluids until the diarrhoea has cleared up. Treatment of diarrhoea in goats using this method often lasts about 2 to 3 days. Electrolyte mixes can be purchased in livestock supply outlets. Some farmers cannot afford such treatment methods and so may need to formulate the mix. According to various agricultural research, home-made electrolyte mix is made by boiling a quart of water and mixing in 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

Antibiotic Treatment of Diarrhoea in Goats

Treatment of diarrhoea in goats is often administered through the use of antibiotics. Usage must always be prescribed by a veterinary professional who also determines the dosage as well as the timeframe. Antibiotic treatment is in fact the most common treatment method for bacterial infections in both human and animal species. It is also regarded as the most expensive treatment method owing to the cost of medication and consultation of a veterinarian. For this reason, is often used when other treatment methods have been exhausted or in severe cases of infection. It is however advisable for farmers to seek help sooner rather than later as diarrhoea can be detrimental to animals, especially is left untreated for prolonged periods of time.

Another important factor to be aware of is that it is difficult to find antibiotic drugs specifically designed for goats. As such, extra label usage is common. This is generally the use of any drug that is used for something that is not specifically listed on the label and is only permitted under the written orders of a veterinarian. A test should be conducted prior to administering medicine so as to determine the cause the infection. This is because most researches point out that antibiotics are usually less useful in illnesses caused by virus or protozoa. However, antibiotics are useful when bacterial infections are the primary infective agent or where the risk of secondary bacterial infections is high. Sulfa-antibiotics or amprolium should be used in the case of coccidia. Treatment of diarrhoea in goats using antibiotics or any other mediation requires supplementary means to hydrate animals. It is therefore important to provide ill animals with sufficient water and electrolytes. Ewes can be vaccinated 6 to 8 weeks before birth to protect their lambs.

Bismuth Subsalicylate Treatment

Treatment of diarrhoea in goats can be achieved through the use of bismuth subsalicylate. This is often sold as Pepto-Bismol. It is defined as an antacid elixir medication used to treat temporary discomforts of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhoea. Bismuth subsalicylate stimulates the passage of fluid and electrolytes across the wall of the intestinal tract, and binds or neutralizes the toxins of some bacteria, rendering them nontoxic. It decreases intestinal inflammation and increases the activity of intestinal muscles and lining. Similar to antibiotics, this medication is usually used as extra-label because it is difficult to find specifically designed goat batches. This method for treatment of diarrhoea in goats takes effect in approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Drugs that are known to decrease gut motility such as Immodium AD should not be administered. Oral yogurt or probiotics are often given to restore a more normal gut flora.

Home-made Remedies for Treatment of Diarrhoea in Goats

Formal methods for treatment of diarrhoea in goats are often expensive. For this reason, some farmers cannot afford such treatments hence opt for home-made remedies. The downside of these methods is that they are often conducted without consultation of a veterinarian. This means that medication is provided without knowledge of the cause which can sometimes render it useless. Note that all home-made remedies require separation of sick goats from healthy ones. Shade and water should be availed at all times. Animals can then be provided with appropriate medication. There are various solutions that can be administered including:

Solution 1

  • 2 tablespoon glucose
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all of the above in 2 litres of water and provide to sick animals.


Solution 2

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon sugar or honey

Mix into 1 litre of clean water and give to sick kids

Solution 3

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoon glucose or alternatively 50ml which is about 5 teaspoons glucose syrup

Mix into 1 litre of clean water and provide to sick animals