Farmers and barn managers usually keep a bottle of mineral oil on hand for use when livestock experience gastrointestinal issues. If your goat appears to be suffering from bloat or constipation, call your veterinarian. He might advise you to tube the animal with mineral oil, depending on your description of the goat's condition and your ability to use a nasogastric tube.
While other oils serve some of the same purposes, mineral oil's advantage is that it possesses neither taste nor odor. That means an animal is unlikely to object to its administration based on those elements. Dosing your goat with mineral oil lubricates the gastrointestinal tract. Purchase mineral oil at pharmacies, supermarkets, farm supply stores or from your vet.
Bloat in Goats
If your goat eats too much feed at once -- perhaps from a raid on the grain bin -- bloat could result. Consuming excess hay won't cause bloat, as caprines can eat a lot more hay than grain without becoming sick. However, pastured goats might bloat from eating certain weeds, including milkweed, or rich legumes such as alfalfa. Bloat symptoms include obvious abdominal distention, predominantly on the animal's left side. She might drool or kick or bite at her sides. The goat might lie down, unwilling to move. If your goat is still upright, administering a small amount of mineral oil can help get her gut moving and relieve the gas pressure causing the bloat. If your goat is down, you need immediate veterinary help.
If you have livestock, it's a good idea to keep a nasogastric tube or two on hand, depending on the species and size of your animals. You can purchase these tubes through your veterinarian or through veterinary supply houses. Gently insert the nasogastric tube into a nostril. If possible, get someone to hold the goat still during the procedure. Guide the tube to the back of the throat, allowing the goat to swallow it. Make sure the tube is swallowed, then attach a funnel to your end of the tube and pour in the correct amount of mineral oil. You can add a little warm water to the oil to hasten movement through the tube. It's possible that some gas will come up through the tube before you add the funnel.
If tubing for bloat, once you've successfully administered the mineral oil, carefully remove the nasogastric tube and gently massage your goat's abdomen. While massage relieves gas pressure, it also helps move impacted material through your goat's system if she suffers from constipation. Keep her walking while gently massaging the abdomen. This massage, along with the oil, can help gas escape through the mouth via belching or through the anus via flatulence.
Warnings and Contraindications
You probably have a drench gun on hand for worming your goats or delivering other medications. Don't use a drench gun to administer mineral oil. The goat can easily aspirate it into her lungs, and you could end up causing pneumonia or other serious, even fatal, respiratory issues. If your bloated or constipated goat experiences diarrhea, stop dosing the animal with mineral oil and contact your veterinarian.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.