Scary moment this evening - I've been at the vet several times in the past few weeks due to trouble with parasites. In a climate like Texas worms and coccidiosis can be an issue even in the winter. Stress due to unusually harsh weather can reduce a goat's resistance to parasites. Having to stay huddled together is stressful - not as healthy as getting out and exercising. We see this in our human populations as well. When large numbers of people congregate in buildings in the winter, they share all kinds of germs.
On with the cautionary tale, so tonight I was out administering a coccidiosis treatment to the herd, and I noticed one of my nursing does appeared pretty anemic (pale pink eyelids). I decided to give her a SubQ (under the skin) injection of iron & B-complex. I gave her the injection and moved on to the next pen, and drenched two more goats. As I was straightening up, I heard the injected doe scream - yes, goats can scream; it is a very distinctive sound. I started running and saw the doe drop to the ground. I ran to the house where we keep an epi-pen. When I reached the doe, her eyelids were *white*, and her breathing was labored. But her head was up. I was reluctant to use the epi-pen as it is really on hand for the humans in the house. I decided to try some nutri-drench. When I got back from the house with the drench, she was up eating some hay. When I gave her the drench, she went nuts over it and was sucking at the pump wanting more. I gave her ten to fifteen pumps. Then I brought out minerals mixed with herbal dewormer, and all the goats including the shocky goat went crazy for it. I remembered that the warming herbs, especially the cayenne pepper were good for shock. Hubby brought home a bottle of children's Benadryl, and she got a dose of that too. She appears to be recovered, but I was quite shaken.
There are drawbacks to any administration method of medicines and supplements. Placing the med in the water or food is the safest, but it is hard to make sure the animal gets the right dose. Pills can cause choking (it's best to use a balling gun). Drenches can be aspirated into the lungs, and very weak animals may be reluctant or unable to swallow them. And injections can cause anaphylactic shock. ANY injection - even a vitamin shot! For this reason it is important to have epinephrine on hand (on you, not in the house or barn) any time you give an injection. Some goat producers have expressed that their vets did not want to give them this essential medication. Other products may be of use - Benadryl, cayenne pepper, Nutri-drench or propylene glycol (delivers an easily assimilated source of energy), and epinephrine OTC inhalers. All these products require that the animal be breathing and/or able to swallow. The goal is to return the blood pressure to normal - in shock, it is low. And of course keep the airway open!
I have learned that the B-complex and iron can be used orally. Our vet said that the thiamine can cause trouble, and he had a pig drop dead on him one time after a vitamin injection, so he is wary of using them.
I have been doing a lot of research lately into various herbs that have the potential to support the health of our goats (& ourselves). I did not find herbs to be an adequate replacement for chemical deworming products. I do, however, feel that a different approach is in order - one that views herbs as an nutritional adjunct that can improve parasite resistance & reduce the need for harsh chemical medications. Futhermore they can potentially help the goats heal from the insult caused by the worms; something that chemical dewormers do not do. In coming posts, I hope to share my findings. Take care!