Friday, October 12, 2012

But, She is a Fighter... GRAPHIC PICTURES


Yesterday, Sean came home to feed himself lunch and check the animals, as usual. He found Ellie just outside the barn, laying in a puddle of mud, soaked and miserable. She was shivering and could barely stand. Because we have been treating Ellie for Strongyle worms and anemia for the past month, he knew there was something very wrong and wasted no time in picking her up and getting her to our vet.

Dr. Emerson examined Ellie with her stethoscope and took Ellie's temperature, which was 92 instead of a normal 101-103, an indication (if we needed more of them) that Ellie's situation was dire. After, a brief discussion of all the possible diseases and problems that could be wrong, Sean called me to inform me of the situation. The prognosis was not hopeful. We knew that Ellie had been fighting a heavy worm load for the past month, which was causing her to be severely anemic, but up until yesterday afternoon, she had been walking, eating, and drinking. The inside of her eyelids had started to pink up from the ghastly white they had been. We thought we were winning this battle. We had dosed her with 2 injections of Ivomec at the rate of 1cc each dose given 2 weeks apart. What to do now???

Dr. Emerson suggested drawing some blood to check to see how anemic she was. Her count should have been around 33; it was 11. She also checked a fecal sample for her worm load; it came back with Strongyle and 2 other parasites and Coccidiosis. The outlook was looking more and more bleak. Dr. Emerson said, "her chances are not good. Most people would choose, rather than spend the $250.00 for diagnostic testing, to put her down." She was not hopeful that Ellie was going to survive, regardless of treatment. It seemed to me the only things Ellie had going in her favor was her will to live and ours. We were not ready to give up and call it. First of all, Ellie is a great goat and we love her. Secondly, she is a valuable addition to our herd, losing her is not an option if there was anything we can do to avoid it. We were not giving up on this goat!

I called my sister, Kelli (whom we had gotten Ellie from) and we discussed the problem. She advised us to insist on a Bo-Se injection, Vitamin B injection, CDT injection and about a hundred other things, which I cannot remember now. I appreciated Kelli's help, but felt frustrated for her. It is hard to be on the phone, hearing symptoms and trying to offer advice; much easier had she been there to see Ellie and make a judgement on her condition for herself. But, I listened attentively to the technical and clinical terms she is fluent in and tried to parrot them to Dr. Emerson.

Dr. Emerson administered the Bo-Se injection which is medication for selenium deficiency.  Selenium deficiency shows itself in goats most often in the form of weak rear legs in kids. Older goats look "pathetic," don't put on weight, have weak legs, and generally stay in poor condition and poor health. She also injected Thiamine (vitamin B-1) and gave us doses for a 3 day treatment with this. Dr. Emerson gave Ellie a prescription of SMZ- a Sulfa-based oral prescription antibiotic. It is often used to fight Coccidiosis and can be used to treat watery diarrhea and other gut-related illnesses. A final injection of Banamine; an anti-inflammatory that besides reducing fever (which Ellie did not have), soothes irritation in the gastro-intestinal tract when digestive illnesses occur, relieves pain and soreness- rounded out our treatment course. Dr. Emerson advised us to pick up some Safeguard at Agway or Blue Seal and dose Ellie with it for three days to rid her of the worms and parasites. We were kind of confused about all this, it was a lot to take in. But, it felt good to be doing something that might be helping.

At home, Sean settled Ellie into the basement. She was not going back to the barn and our hospital stall was yet unfinished. The basement has a cement floor which is easy to clean and had the added bonus of having her near to hand for us to watch closely. Once settled with shavings, some dandelion greens (which was the only thing she showed any interest in eating), and fresh water, we left for the store to buy the dewormer medicine.

That was awful! So many products. The only one rated for use in goats was not labeled to deal with Strongyle worms. Ivermectin was available, but only as a cattle pour on solution or a horse paste. We were searching for Injectible Ivermectin for cattle, but they had none. We called the vet's office back for advice. They said, "If you can't find any Ivomec. We have it here." (How did we miss THAT?) We bought the Safeguard anyway to have on hand and some Probiotic powder to assist in getting the good bacteria in Ellie's rumen back to normal and went home.

Ellie perked up in our absence. Her stomach seemed more full. So, I commenced to worry about gas and bloat, which are often side effects of a rumen being unbalanced after a severe bout with parasites until we started to hear gurgling and rumblings from her stomach which indicated her intestines were functioning. Sean offered her a pepto-bismal tablet because it wouldn't hurt anything and might help to sooth her stomach stress. She liked that very much. Then, she began eating the hay we brought her with interest and drinking the electrolyte spiked water. And, the cherry on top- standing again. She was up for several hours, eating slowly, but steadily all the while. She urinated and left us a present of several large blobs of feces. Not great, but this was all movement in the right direction in my book. Would it last? Were we doing the right things? How were we going to give this goat the best shot of recovering?

More research, of course. My two new favorite pages online are:

Goat Medications and How To Use Them
This page lists about 30 common drugs, their dosages and the indications for their usage. Though the author is not a vet, it is extremely well-written, easy to understand and comprehensive. From it, I was able to understand why I was given the medicines, Dr. Emerson prescribed. I also discovered that I needed B-12 injections for Ellie, not Thiamine (B-1) to build her red blood supply back up from the worms. I made a mental note to contact Dr. Emerson to discuss this with her in the morning.

Goat Link
This page is amazing! It lists most of the common problems that goat keepers run into and what to do to fix it. From broken horns and foot rot, to battling and curing Coccidiosis and worming. It lists goat vital signs, goat medications and conversions, goat blood charts and eye color charts. Invaluable information! From this page, I learned about the dangers of dosing a goat with a heavy worm load orally versus using the Ivomec as an injection.

In my earlier post HERE, I mentioned that nearly every site I found suggested giving Ivomec orally. My sister advised giving Ivomec orally. My vet advised us to use it as an injection. In the absence of first hand knowledge, we followed our vet's recommendation. I am so glad we did. It seems that dosing goats with Ivomec orally is what is currently suggested on many sites because of it's rapid effect in a goat's system and because many goat owners feel more at ease giving oral medications rather than injections. 
Photo found on
However, rapid deworming is not always the best way to treat this problem and can be fatal to a goat who is already anemic. Basically, oral administration works too well. What can happen inside a heavily infested goat is that if the worms are killed off too quickly, the worms let go at once, causing internal bleeding which can lead to the death of the goat from blood loss, especially in cases where the goat is already anemic. This is why in a heavily infested goat, it is recommended that you should always administer your dewormer via Sub-Q injection as it goes into the system slower, kills off the parasites slower over a longer period of time, minimizing the risks of the possible "let go" causing internal bleed-out. Makes perfect sense. I wish someone had been able to explain that to me a month ago when I was asking, "Why?"

I read every page slowly, taking notes. Now, that I understood better what it was we were dealing with, I felt like we had some chance to help Ellie heal. The problem is that Ellie has too many worms and parasites feeding too heavily on her blood supply, leaving her very little for her own usage. We need to stimulate her body to help it produce more red blood cells (B12). We need to kill the worms and parasites at a rate that will get their numbers under control and prevent Ellie from losing more blood while giving her time for her digestive tract to heal (Ivomec). We need to keep the good bacteria in her stomach balanced while fighting against dehydration (Probiotics). We need to give her vitamin support for her muscles to gain strength (Thiamine). And, keep the Coccidiosis infection in check (SMZ). Anything else???

We didn't want to leave her to sleep, fearful that she would decline in the night. When morning came at 5 am, she had left us more feces in the form of large piles (think cow patty) and pellets- real pellets for the first time in a month! Any parent with a sick baby can relate to the relief that comes when a fever breaks or diarrhea stops. That is the elation we felt. Not out of the woods, certainly, but we were moving in the right direction, at least. I fed her another pepto-bismal tab, which she loved and slipped her the SMZ while she was still chewing it. Worked perfectly. Sean waited to give her the B1 injection until he could talk with the vet on his way to work.

At first, the receptionist tried to shoo him off with an, "Well, the doctor gave you Thiamine because that is what she wanted you to use." No matter how Sean tried to explain the issue, she seemed unwilling to discuss the possibility of changing medicines. Eventually, Sean scheduled an appointment with Dr. Emerson herself at 9:30 am. After a brief discussion with her, she agreed to sell him a bottle of the B12 vitamin solution. She recommended a course of giving both vitamin B injections. Sean gave those injections at noon. Ellie stood for a while with him, ate hay with a good, steady appetite, and drank about 1 1/2 quarts of water with additional electrolyte support.

While Sean was getting the B12 settled, I found a bottle of Injectible Ivomec at our local Tractor Supply Company. It cost $39.99 for a 50ml bottle, but if it works, it'll be worth every penny and I'll pay it with a smile.

Back at home, I was distressed to discover Ellie unable to stand unassisted and horribly dehydrated. The water in her bowl appeared to be half empty, so I changed it with some fresh water and she drank more. She was interested in eating the fresh hay I brought her, but would not stand. Sean was due home in a few minutes, so I busied myself looking up treatments for dehydration. When Sean arrived, I suggested that we inject some Lactated Ringers Solution from our emergency vet kit. The dose suggested was 30ccs injected slowly into each shoulder, several times each day or via IV. I had no idea- even with the excellent directions I found- how to attempt an IV. So, we decided to try to give her the sub-Q injections. Even though Ellie is drinking, her skin is very tight to her body frame and the skin that should be loose enough to be pulled up for injections, could barely be grabbed. Sean also injected a 3cc sub Q dose of Ivomec. He got Ellie to her feet and she walked around for a little while, continuing to eat her hay and drinking.

While she was up, we checked her pulse rate. It registered at about 110 beats per minute; it should be between 70 and 80. We checked her breathing. It was right where it should be at 20 breaths per minute. Her eyelids are definitely better than they have been, getting more pink in color. Her rumen sounds normal. She left a pile of pellets and a pool of urine for us to clean up.

And, that's where we are.

Ellie is still very sick. We are trying to help her to heal. And, we are praying... a lot.


  1. Oh, no! I'm so sorry poor Ellie is having such a tough time. I wish I could offer some helpful advice but I know nothing about goats, and it is clear you know a lot!

    I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers tonight. You are taking such good care of her that I believe she will pull through! :)

    1. Thanks, Tammy. I appreciate the kind thoughts coming our way.

  2. Have you ever checked out Food Grade Diatomaceous earth for worming ?
    Here's a website that explains a lot about it. Apparently its been used for yrs for farm animals. You might consider contacting the website admin detailing poor Ellie's condition, perhaps they can advise you better.