The Ultimate Guide To Goats Choking

I inadvertently left the feed and grain store open once and left. I had no idea it would be as dangerous as it happened. I returned after a short period of time to see that my goats had opened the bags of grain and began to devour the grain in successive batches.

My thoughts at first were confined to the mess and the loss of grain that the goats had wasted, and I set about tidying up my storeroom. But I soon saw my goats showing strange symptoms.

Some of them had foams and liquids coming out of their mouth and nose, and some of them lay on the ground and extended their heads, and some of them were panting as if they were fighting for air! I realized that it was the large amount of grain that the goats ate that caused these symptoms.

Actually, I didn’t know what to do, but fortunately, the vet was passing by my neighbor’s farm, so I called him and he came to me, and he and his assistant passed tubes through the mouth of the goats, and my goats were saved, thank God.

Goat choking is a common occurrence that occurs as a result of several reasons, the most famous of which is eating large quantities of dry grains or food that contains large amounts of starches.

It is a bad and painful experience, and the life of the goat may end if it is not dealt with in an emergency and appropriate manner.

In this article, we’re discussing the most important causes of choking in goats, methods of treatment, and how to prevent it.

Can Goats Choke?

White Goat!

Yes, goats can choke. If they find grains, vegetables, or fruits, they quickly go to devour them without any wisdom. Goats often eat at a fast pace and their goal is to devour the largest amount of food as they fight to reach the feeder and get the most food.

Unfortunately, this can cause them to suffocate in the event that they eat fruits or vegetables in large pieces that are not suitable for the size of their mouth and esophagus such as large pieces of apples, carrots, beets, melons, potatoes, cabbage, turnips, or stalks and ears of corn.

Also, even if the food particles are small, but they are dry like grains, they lead to goats suffocating as a result of their accumulation in the esophagus and the inability to pass them into the stomach.

Causes of Choking in Goats 

The occurrence of suffocation in goats is not limited to eating large amounts of grain only, although this is the common cause in most cases. The causes of suffocation in goats include the following:

  • Ingestion of foreign bodies
  • Intussusception
  • Volvuli and displacements of goats abomasum, or small and large intestines
  • Cysts and tumors in the esophagus
  • Inflammatory bowel
  • Sudden dietary changes

Goat suffocation must be treated immediately so that a complete blockage that threatens the life of the goat does not develop.

How Do You Know if a Goat is Choking?

You will notice that the goats are not in their normal state, where they are in distress or stagnant. They stop eating and may appear sad and uncomfortable, as if they are in pain, and they show many signs indicating that they are suffering from suffocation.

Let us explain the most common signs that goats show when choking in the next paragraph.

What Are the Signs of Blockage in Goats?

Signs of blockage and choking in goats include:

  • Nasal drainage for food and water
  • Lump on the tongue
  • Head extension
  • Bruxism
  • Glossitis
  • Drooling
  • Gas bloat 
  • Walking hard
  • Abdomen bulging high on the left side
  • Palpable enlargement of the esophagus
  • Facial muscle tension
  • Lying down
  • Bleating
  • Stamping 

Goats may display one or more of these symptoms if they are choking. Symptoms become progressively worse as the choking period progresses and is left untreated.

What Happens if a Goat Aspirates?

This would be an indication that the goat is suffering from choking and immediate remedial measures must be taken to prevent the matter from worsening.

Whereas, if the esophageal obstruction in goats is acute or complete, belching of rumen gasses is prohibited and may develop into flatulence of free gases if not treated.

In many cases, severe flatulence of gases causes the rumen to swell, puts pressure on the diaphragm, and reduces the return of venous blood to the heart, which leads to its stopping!

Also, if they fail to release gas, the great pressure on their lungs makes breathing difficult. Also, liquids and food that come out of the nose and mouth may reach the lungs and cause severe pneumonia.

What Should You Do if You Find Your Goat Choking?

If you find goats showing signs of choking, you should seek veterinary assistance immediately to treat them according to their condition. You can help your goats before the vet arrival with the following:

1. Massage the Throat and Neck

You can gently massage the throat and esophagus as it helps the passage of the stuck thing in the goat’s esophagus. It may not be very effective, but it may help in relieving the goat choke.

2. Suction of Exuded Fluids

The foam and saliva around their nose and mouth should be sucked out using a baby aspirator or wiped with tissues to loosen the goats and help them breathe better.

3. Turn the Goat Over

Turn the goat from its front feet, shaking it and massaging its neck until the stuck thing in its esophagus falls off.

but you must be careful and do it gently only for a few seconds, then return the goat to its position.

4. Pass the Proboscis Into the Mouth

If you have enough experience, you can use a thin hose and stick it in the goat’s mouth, then run a small, slow stream of water in the goat’s mouth for just a few seconds.

This will quickly relieve choking as it may lead to the object being passed in the esophagus into the stomach if the obstruction can be bypassed.

If you find that the blockage is hindering the passage of the tube, you should not force it to pass so as not to scratch or injure the tissues of the esophagus and cause other complications that you do not need.

Treatment of Goat Choking 

A veterinarian will usually perform an endoscopic examination in determining the location of the esophageal obstruction and the extent of the esophageal ulceration. The respiratory system is also carefully evaluated for risk of aspiration pneumonia.

The vet will try to relieve the choking by:

  • Sedatives and muscle relaxants to help relax the esophagus.
  • Passing an oral tube to pass the stuck object or a nasogastric tube to relieve esophageal obstruction.
  • Use of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Suspension of replacement solutions for blood electrolytes.

In severe cases that do not respond to these procedures, an esophagostomy may be required to resolve choking and esophageal obstruction.

After passing the stuck object, the veterinarian may perform some follow-up checks to further check on the condition of the goats, such as:

  •  Listening to the heart and lungs
  • Perform a chest X-ray
  •  Perform a CBC profile and serum biochemistry.

The most common abnormalities suggestive of CBC in asphyxiated goats are leukocytosis, toxic neutropenia and left seizures, and hyperfibrinogenemia. Biochemical abnormalities also include hyponatremia, secondary hypokalemia, hypochloremia, and excessive loss of saliva.

In severe cases that do not respond to these procedures, an esophagostomy may be required to resolve choking and esophageal obstruction.

Complications of Choking Goats

If goat suffocation is not treated, the goat will suffer from aspiration pneumonia and septic pleural pneumonia, especially in chronic cases.

Chronic esophageal obstruction for more than 24 hours may be associated with pressure necrosis of the esophageal mucosa due to prolonged contact with the foreign body lodged in the esophagus. This may lead to the narrowing of the esophagus as a result of damage to the peripheral mucosa.

Fatal complications of asphyxia and chronic esophageal obstruction include esophageal rupture. It leads to localized cervical cellulitis, pleural pneumonia, or septic mediastinitis.

An intrathoracic esophageal tear is often fatal. In these cases, euthanasia can be considered, as the case is hopeless, and its treatment may require more arduous procedures that may not give effective results in the end.

Prevention of Goat Choking 

Here are 4 pieces of advice that may help reduce the chance of your goat chocking:

1- Do not provide large quantities of grains and foods that contain high carbohydrates. You should put what is enough for goats only and divide the quantities of food into moderate meals during the day.

2- Cut fruits and vegetables into small pieces, especially large, hard vegetables such as root vegetables, turnips, and others.

3- Cut grass and weeds into smaller pieces so that the goats can easily swallow them.

4- Provide sufficient amounts of water so that the goats drink continuously, especially at the time of eating, to help the passage of any leftover food stuck in the esophagus.

Doaa Salah Profile Picture
Doaa Salah
The shy one (too shy to put her photo) and the only girl in our team! Doaa is a veterinarian who is passionate about writing content. She knows a lot about animals and birds, as she has been studying them for many years now. Her goal? She is researching and learning to convey to you all the knowledge she have and what's new about farming.