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. One of the ways goats express stress is through teeth grinding.
Why is my goat grinding its teeth? Goats grind their teeth because they are in extreme pain. It is a sign of bad health. There are several common causes of pain in your goat. The most common reason is bloating. Other reasons goats grind their teeth include scours, external injury, or the beginning of labor. 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 the grinding and how it’s different from chewing.
Right when your goat starts to grind, closely examine it. Sometimes the pain is obvious, and you can check for cuts or bruises. However, it can be more difficult when it comes to pain caused by an internal issue. Internal health issues include bloating, scours, parasites, and some deficiencies.
Bloat Causes 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.
You should always treat goat bloat with urgency. Goat bloat occurs when goats change diets or have nutritional needs. Check out this article on the type of foods goats eat to prevent bloat. If you have a bloated goat, check out this article on how to treat it.
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 become serious after prolonged diarrhea and can lead 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. As it 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.
Emotional Causes of Teeth Grinding
Goats occasionally grind their teeth from emotional distress.
Stress: 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.
Anger: 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.
Pregnant Goats Grind Teeth
Pregnant goats will often grind their teeth, especially during pre-labor time. This grinding is also due to the pain because a goat’s body begins to contort unusually before giving birth.
Once the goat starts to give birth, the kids will come out within an hour. If not, and you still see it grinding the 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.
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: 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: 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 Them Vaccinated: Goats require yearly CD&T vaccination as it helps prevent bloating, overeating, and tetanus. For more information on required goat vaccinations, check out the table given in this article.
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, as soon as you observe your goat grinding teeth, start finding out the reason for the same.
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 who are about to give birth, stay with them for the entire time they give birth and take the required measures.
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