The other day, I heard the sound of my goat grinding teeth and got immediately worried. That’s because one of the ways goats express stress is through teeth grinding.
Did you know that goats are very expressive animals? Not only can they tell apart fear and joy, but they can also express the same. This makes taking care of a goat rewarding because somehow, they interact with you. The same applies when the goats are sick or having health troubles.
Why is my goat grinding teeth? Goats grind their teeth because they are in extreme pain, usually from bloat. In addition to teeth grinding, you may observe pawing at the ground, yelling, and leaning. A goat in the start of labor is also a common reason for teeth grinding. Additionally, goats may grind their teeth when they are injured or have scours.
Since goats cannot speak, you need to be observant enough to recognize these signs and take immediate action to relieve your goats of their extreme pain.
Goats grind their teeth when they are feeling pain. You may not know why they are feeling pain. Let’s look at other clues that will help you diagnose the issue.
Physical Pain Causes Teeth Grinding
Pain is the first reason a goat grinds its teeth. Usually, the goat will stand with its head hanging down and grind its teeth with a low frequency. Grinding alone causes them to get irritated. You must learn to recognize grinding and how it’s different from chewing.
If your goat is experiencing physical pain, you need to identify the cause of the pain. You can administer veterinary pharmaceuticals (such as Ketoprofen) that relieve pain and decrease swelling. Ice and heat treatments work well for easing joint and muscle pain. Massaging your goat with lavender or coconut oil also provides natural pain relief.
To treat the goat properly, you’ll need to give them a thorough check from nose to tail. Check for cuts, broken bones, bloody discharge, and hot and inflamed areas on their body. Once you’ve identified the cause of the pain, you can administer the correct treatment plan.
If the goat presents with a bloody discharge, you should contact your vet as soon as possible, as this could indicate an internal injury. Another natural remedy to help with physical pain is rubbing comfrey on inflamed areas.
Bloat Causes Goat Teeth Grinding
Bloating happens because of trapped gas in the rumen. It is usually caused by fresh alfalfa, a change in diet, or too many grains. Take it seriously because if the goats cannot belch, gas will build-up, and it can also die. Bloating is expected in spring when their diets usually change.
Symptoms of bloating include teeth grinding, bulging, refusal to eat, and lethargy. Grinding means bloating has reached a level that the stomach is starting to hurt. Even if your goat does not grind its teeth yet, keep a note of other symptoms to prevent it from happening.
Scours Cause Teeth Grinding
Diarrhea in goats is called Scours. Sours are caused by too much milk or feeding an excessive amount of grain. Kids are more susceptible to scours than adults, but the latter are not immune to it.
Other causes of scours include coccidiosis (parasitic disease of the intestinal tract) and enterotoxemia (bacterial infection).
Symptoms of scours include teeth grinding and diarrhea. Fecal matter color will vary between pale white and watery brown. To stop scours, cease giving milk and grain to your goat. In severe cases, you can give them kaolin-pectin with plenty of water.
Scours should be treated immediately because it can become serious after prolonged diarrhea, leading to depression, weakness, loss of appetite, and even death. If things are getting serious, it is best to take the goat to the veterinarian.
Laminitis Can Cause Teeth Grinding
Laminitis is a condition of the goat’s hoof when the tissue inside the hoof swells, leading to inflammation, pain and teeth grinding. As the goat walks around, the swelled part is pushed against the inner hoof wall causing pain. If not checked, it can aggravate the founder, leading to deformities in the hoof.
If your goat is showing signs of lameness, there are several steps you can take as outlined.
Emotional Causes of Teeth Grinding
Goats occasionally grind their teeth from emotional distress.
Stress-Induced Teeth Grinding
A goat’s teeth can grind if they are under stress. Although most stress is caused by physical pain, drastic changes can occasionally cause temporary teeth grinding. Although I haven’t ever witnessed this, some goat owners say that a baby goat can grind its teeth after pulling from its mother.
Other than this, if goats are exposed to uncomfortable situations, they can start to grind. And once they are back in a normal or habitual environment, the grinding stops.
How to Reduce Stress in Goats
If goats feel stressed, you must remove the cause and calm them down. Speak gently and calmly to the goats. If they allow you to pet them, do this slowly. Separate goats if they’re fighting, as conflict can aggravate their stress levels. Ensure the goats have enough space to move around comfortably and don’t feel overcrowded.
Avoid making sudden movements or noises, as this can make them more anxious. The wind stresses out some goats, so keep your goats sheltered until they’ve calmed down. Ensure the goats’ living environment is dry and clean.
The best way to reduce stress in goats is to monitor them closely and pay attention to what stresses them out. Try to avoid these situations and keep your goats comfortable. If your goats are highly stressed, consider using Acepromazine, a mild tranquilizer to help relieve their stress.
Angry Goat Grinding Teeth
Goats are fun, but you may occasionally run into a less friendly goat. This often happens from physical ailments that influence the goat’s temperament. It can also happen from mistreatment by people or from severe distress, similar to PTSD.
How to Deal With Anger in Goats
An angry goat can be a danger to themselves and you. An effective way to diffuse a tense situation is by spraying the goat in the face with a water bottle. This will surprise them and stop them in their tracks. Speak calmly to your goat and try to find the source of their anger. If they’re feeling territorial, you should back away slowly.
Goats are intelligent animals, and if you respond negatively (such as by shouting or becoming physical), they’ll react negatively back at you. If a goat becomes angry because they can’t reach their food, ensure they have enough space and access to food.
Male goats often become aggressive and angry due to hormones. If the situation isn’t improving, then you need to consider having your goat neutered, which will significantly reduce their aggressive and angry behavior.
Pregnant Goat Grinding Teeth
Do goats grind teeth during labor? Pregnant does (female goats) often grind their teeth during pre-labor and the start of labor. The teeth grinding is a response to the pain and discomfort the doe experiences as the uterus contracts in preparation for birth. You may also notice that they grunt and pace in circles before labor begins.
Once the goat starts to give birth, the kids will come out within an hour. If not, and you still see your pregnant goat grinding teeth, this means that you need to lend a hand. Either get in touch with a veterinarian or make sure to learn beforehand what must be done in this situation.
After the doe has given birth, teeth grinding should subside. If the doe continues to grind their teeth, this could indicate that she is still experiencing pain or an underlying issue. It’s best to contact the vet to assist.
How to Reduce Teeth Grinding in Pregnant Goats
Pregnancy can be very uncomfortable for goats, especially if they’re over or underweight. Ensure your goat has a balanced diet and maintains a healthy weight. Keep the goat’s living environment clean, well-aerated, and at a comfortable temperature. If it’s too hot or cold, she will become more uncomfortable, leading to further teeth grinding.
Regularly trim your goat’s hooves so they don’t become uncomfortable with the goat’s increased weight. Keep your goat’s routine regular, as sudden changes make them uneasy and more stressed.
Provide your goat with an intramammary infusion (such as Vetericyn Antimicrobial Utility Gel) about 2 months before she’s due to give birth. This will help prevent mastitis and protect the udders, as mastitis can cause a lot of pain for a pregnant doe.
Male Goat Grinding Teeth
Male goats also grind teeth, with the usual reasons such as pain, bloat, and teething being the causes. However, there’s no particular reason that’s different to female goats when it comes to teeth grinding.
Goat Grinding Teeth Foaming Mouth
Goats can be greedy animals, and when they gorge on shrubs, grass, legumes, and other tasty (but sugar rich) plants, they can develop bloat. This painful condition can lead to teeth grinding. However, there are two types of goat bloat – the dry kind and the foamy kind.
Foamy mouth while grinding teeth is a dangerous condition and requires swift treatment. When a goat foams while grinding teeth, they are suffering from the release of excess gas that has built up during bloat.
This foam can quickly enter their nasal passages, leading to pneumonia and respiratory distress. The foam can also mix with any further feed, causing a choking hazard that can lead to further complications and death.
Preventing Goat Teeth Grinding
There are several ways to prevent teeth from grinding. Teeth grinding can be controlled through careful feed management, eliminating your herd’s external stressors, and keeping your goats vaccinated.
- Careful Feed Management To Prevent Goat Bloat: Bloat is the most common reason goats grind their teeth. Make sure to make feed adjustments slowly and carefully. Mix old and new feed for at least two weeks to allow the bacteria in your goat’s rumen to adjust healthily. Always provide some form of forage for your goats to eat, even if they are 4H or meat goats and on a high-grain diet. Check out the use of baking soda to reduce bloat here.
- Remove Stressors To Your Goats To Reduce Teeth Grinding: Keep a note of everything that can cause stress in the goat. Take preventive measures to protect the goats from getting stressed in the first place. Do not separate the kid from the mother goat or get angry; do not make them feel more insecure.
- Get Your Goats Vaccinated to Prevent Painful Diseases: Goats require yearly CD&T vaccination as it helps prevent bloating, overeating, and tetanus. For more information on required goat vaccinations, check out the linked article.
Bottle Baby Goat Grinding It’s Teeth
When a kid (baby goat) is born, they have a set of deciduous incisor teeth, more commonly known as milk or baby teeth. These teeth can come in from birth to one week old. They should have their third set of milk incisors by three weeks old. The teeth erupting through their gums can cause discomfort and pain which may cause them to start grinding their teeth.
Is it normal for a baby goat to grind teeth? While a baby goat may grind their teeth because it’s something new to try, it isn’t considered normal behavior. If a baby goat grinds their teeth, it usually means they’re experiencing pain, anxiety, or stress. Baby goats are also susceptible to bloating, which causes pain and leads to continuous teeth grinding.
Why is my baby goat grinding its teeth and not eating? Often when a baby goat is separated and weaned from their mother after birth, they can experience extreme separation anxiety and fear of their new surroundings. This distress can cause a baby goat to grind their teeth and refuse to eat. Another cause of loss of appetite and teeth-grinding in baby goats is gas build-up from dietary changes.
Goat Grinding Teeth FAQs
Why is my Nigerian goat grinding teeth? The Nigerian goat has two heritable diseases that affect them. A cancerous tumor, known as squamous cell carcinoma develops under the tail. They also develop carpal hyperextension, which causes their knees to bend backward as they age. Both of these diseases cause intense pain and frustration for the goat, which leads to them grinding their teeth.
Why do worms cause teeth grinding? When worms such as the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infest a goat, it can cause several unpleasant symptoms such as weight loss, loss of appetite, general lethargy, and weakness. One of the main symptoms is diarrhea. These symptoms cause pain and discomfort, which causes the goat to grind their teeth.
Why do parasites cause teeth grinding? Intestinal parasites such as coccidia cause dehydration and continuous diarrhea in goats. The goat’s rumen swells and the lower large intestine becomes inflamed, which causes extreme discomfort and pain. Goats grind their teeth to distract themselves from the pain and exhibit shallow and rapid breathing patterns.
Do goats grind their teeth even if they are not in pain? Goats grind their teeth for numerous reasons, not just when they’re in pain. Other causes include fear, stress, anxiety, discomfort, disease, parasites, overeating, or hoof issues such as laminitis. Sometimes the goat is simply feeling irritated or bored or chewing on cud. Grinding their teeth can become a bad habit if it’s done out of boredom.
Goat teeth grinding is a common issue, but it is also a severe indicator of other health-related issues that you should not ignore. As it is the most effective indicator of pain, start finding out why as soon as you observe your goat grinding teeth.
Take a note of its health to find out if there are stomach or other internal system issues. Then, check for any wounds and bruises. For pregnant goats about to give birth, stay with them the entire time they give birth and take the required measures.
My Essential Goat Supplies
This list contains affiliate products. Affiliate products do not cost more but helps to support BestFarmAnimals and our goal to provide farm animal owners with accurate and helpful information.
A sturdy dog collar is essential. Don’t do rope (they’ll break and tangle) or chain (injury!).
A Black Water Tub is way nicer than buckets that tip over. I like to get a 20 or 30-gallon in each pen so my goats have plenty of water, but you can get 100-gallons if you have a lot of sheep in one pen.
Loose minerals in a small bag or a Purina 50 lb bag, and a mineral feeder for free-choice is the best option. One side holds minerals, and the other holds baking soda. Don’t feed sheep goat minerals because it usually contains copper- something that is fatal to sheep.
Hoof trimmers are a necessity because you’ll need to trim your sheep’s hooves every few months. These are nice for the price.
Don’t make the mistake I made by waiting to order a drench gun before you need it. I was surprised by how often I use it. It helps with bloating, dehydration, and other ailments. Here’s a good drench, but you can also drench a bloat solution or water if dehydrated.
Digital Thermometor for when your lambs act sick. You’ll need to know if their temps are too low or too high so you can accurately diagnose the issues.
Vetericyn for wound care. It makes a big difference in a speedy recovery.
Check out this list of goat milk supplies you need if you have milk goats.