If your goat appears lame, you must figure out the reason for his sore hooves before beginning treatment. An examination of the hoof is the first order of business, but you must also observe how the goat moves and how he is holding his feet. There are some obvious conditions you can treat yourself, but many goat hoof ailments require veterinary attention.
Caprine foot rot is caused by Bacteroides nodusus, an anaerobic bacterium. Symptoms include:
- bad-smelling discharge
- toe spreading
- hoof swelling or red areas above the hoof
If your goat has foot rot, aggressive trimming is required. You want to get rid of cracks where the bacteria can hide. After trimming, apply zinc sulfate topically or in a foot bath to dry out the hoof. A badly infected goat may need a daily hour-long foot bath.
Inspect every sheep or goat in your herd -- both species are vulnerable to the same disease -- and separate the affected and non-affected stock.
It's important to trim the hooves of the apparently healthy goats as well, but make sure to disinfect your equipment before and after using it.
Laminitis or Founder
Laminitis and founder isn't just limited to equines -- it can occur in any hoofed animal. The laminae inside the hoof -- which hold the hoof structure together -- swell, causing extreme pain. The hooves feel hot to the touch. Laminitis can progress to founder, in which the hoof is permanently changed. Goats with severe laminitis or founder may walk on their knees from the pain. This is not a condition to treat yourself -- call your veterinarian.
Prevent laminitis or founder by having your goat's hooves trimmed regularly and avoid feeding excess grain. Most goats, unless pregnant or nursing, don't need grain if they receive plenty of pasture, or good timothy or grass hay. If your goat breaks into the feed bin and gorges, call your vet.
It's not unusual for a goat to puncture his hoof on something sharp. You might not be able to see the puncture in the hoof.
- Treat a hoof puncture by pouring iodine onto a pad, pressing the pad on the wound so that the medication enters the hole.
- The North American Packgoat Association advises then wrapping the foot with the pad and some veterinary bandaging tape, duct taping the entire thing to form a boot.
- Soak the hoof in Epsom salts twice daily and devise a new boot after each soaking until the puncture heals.
Your goat should stay up to date on tetanus vaccinations. If he suffers a puncture wound, err on the side of caution and either administer a tetanus shot or ask your vet to do so.
Sudden lameness can also result from a hoof abscess. Besides extreme lameness, the goat's hoof may swell at the hairline, as the infected material tries to get itself out. In addition to trimming to release the abscess, which comes out as a foul-smelling exudate or pus, your vet may prescribe antibiotics.