Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Saga of Blondie

I recently started watching the television show House and was astonished by the way that the doctors on the show use the “shotgun” approach to medicine. They make what they consider the most likely diagnosis and then begin to treat it, then change the diagnosis and treatment as tests come in or if the treatment is not working or is making the patient worse. I found myself in a similar situation (sans the high-tech) with my goat, Blondie, last week.

Blondie, a two year old Oberian doe who is feeding 3 two-month-old kids during the day, and me in the morning, developed “the scours” (diarrhea) and was not acting her normal self. I suspected parasites and treated her with kaolin pectin and banamine (a painkiller) and gave her some roughage—salal leaves. I examined her feces under the microscope and found no parasite eggs. She improved and was chewing her cud that afternoon.

The next morning when I got to the barn Blondie had severe diarrhea—all over the place. I feared enterotoxemia at this point (even though she was current on that vaccination), so I gave her 12 cc CDT antitoxin, more kaolin pectin, electrolytes, more roughage (adding blackberry leaves), banamine, slippery elm, and free choice baking soda. I wondered whether I had made a mistake on the fecal, so I gave her Valbazen (dewormer) just in case. By evening she had seriously slowed her eating and drinking.

I called a goat friend, Teri, who reminded me that my book Goat Health Care mentions that vitamin B is good for digestive problems. They had used it on their goats and it had really helped. So I gave a B injection.

By the next morning Blondie had no diarrhea that I could see (not pooping at all!) and had stopped eating and drinking. Nothing appealed to her. I gave her more banamine, syringed in some Red Cell, another shot of vitamin. More electrolytes. Some probiotics. Still no response.

By noon she looked thin as a rail, with sunken eyes. Her gums were grey and she was severely dehydrated. She was slightly foaming at the mouth.

Blondie is my most valuable milk goat and now she was wasting away. I contemplated subcutaneous water injections as well as syringing electrolytes, but quickly realized that that kind of torture might not even win the battle. So I call the vet and asked him to come out and put in an IV. Fortunately he was able to arrive within a half hour. (I learned that it’s best for a goat to get sick right after a holiday because they leave time open in the schedule.)

He put a catheter for an IV into Blondie’s neck. She got a liter of Ringers Lactate, with added CMPK (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium) and vitamin B. Then he syringed some probiotics with yucca into her. When the IV was done he taped up her neck and showed me how to give more fluids, if needed. I gave her the second liter that night. He said I could give some penicillin if I wanted.

Day four she had diarrhea again, but not as bad. I started her on penicillin after talking to the vet about whether it might be bacterial. I continued the probiotics and kaolin pectin. Also cut fir branches, salal, blackberry leaves and rose. On the vet’s recommendation I let her out to browse. That evening I tried some straw for roughage and she couldn’t get enough. She had become active and vocal.

The next day I finally saw a cud and the diarrhea was abating. She gradually got back to normal over the next few days, her milk production got back to where it was, and she looks healthy.

We still don’t know what triggered it. The vet believes it may have been a mushroom or something else she ate in the field. No other goats got sick.

I am almost happy to have her wake me in the morning now, yelling that she wants to be milked again (i.e., she wants some grain).

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