Symptoms of Diseases in Goats
Goat Farming in South Africa

©Alan R Walker
A goat with sarcoptic mange. This contagious disease is caused by a mite burrowing under the skin.
Many animal deaths can be prevented with the early detection of symptoms of diseases. It is very important that you observe your herd daily. Look for animals that are depressed, lying down, scratching itself, not eating or drinking or behaving strangely like butting its head or kicking its limbs. By doing so, you will be able to recognise diseases through the symptoms exhibited.

Some diseases are difficult to identify because many of them share similar symptoms. Diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and other non-infectious agents. The symptoms of the diseases listed may help to detect illness at the earliest stage. If you suspect a serious issue with your goat, it is best to contact your veterinarian.

Common Symptoms and Possible Disease

Abnormal Body Posture: Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

Abnormal Breathing: Acidosis, Nitrate/nitrite Poisoning, Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), Verminous Pneumonia (Dictyocaulus filaria), Anthrax, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Melioidosis, Allergies/Insect stings, Bloat, Heartwater

Abnormal Milk: Mastitis, Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE), Enterotoxemia

Anaemia: Coccidiosis, Barber pole worm, Blood Parasite –(Anaplasmosis), Lice, Fleas or Ticks, Caseous lymphadenitis, Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), Copper Deficiency, Babesiosis (Red Water), Flukes or Flatworms (Internal Parasite), Stomach and Intestine Roundworms, Trypanosomiasis

Anorexia: Caseous lymphadenitis, Listeriosis, Mastitis, Pregnancy toxemia (ketosis), Urolithiasis (Water belly/cystitis), Pneumonia, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia

Bad Odour: Footrot, Coccidiosis

Blindness: Enterotoxemia, Coccidiosis (Internal Parasite), Polioencephalomalacia

Bloat: Acidosis, Urea poisoning

Blood in Milk: Mastitis

Blood in Urine: Urolithiasis (Water Belly/cystitis), Babesiosis (red water)

Blood loss: Lice, Stomach and Intestine Roundworms

Bloody Diarrhea: Anthrax, Enterotoxemia, Coccidiosis (internal parasite), Nairobi Sheep Disease

Bottle Jaw: Liver Fluke, (Barber pole worm), Parasitic gastroenteritis, Stomach and Intestine Roundworms

Constipation: Tapeworm, Milk Fever

Circular Lesions (face, shoulder, neck, eyes): fungus

Coughing or Sneezing: Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), Verminous Pneumonia (Dictyocaulus filaria), Pneumonia, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Melioidosis

Constant Bleating: Bloat

Dandruff on the Skin: Mange (Sarcoptes, Demodatic and Psoroptes)

Dehydration: Coccidiosis, Acidosis, Barber pole worm, Peste Des Petits Ruminants

Depression: Listeriosis, Mastitis, Pregnancy toxemia (ketosis), Urolithiasis (Water Belly/cystitis), Encephalomalacia (PEM) /Polioencephalomalacia (PEM), Rabies, Pneumonia, Anthrax, Colibacillosis (Scours), Johne’s Disease, Melioidosis, Milk Fever, Enterotoxemia, Babesiosis (red water), Heartwater

Diarrhoea/Scours: Enterotoxemia, Coccidiosis, Chlamydial Abortion, Johne’s Disease (M. Paratuberculosis), Liver Fluke, (Barber pole worm)-Parasitic gastroenteritis, Tapeworm, Brucellosis, Acidosis, Stomach and Intestine Roundworms, Peste Des Petits Ruminants

Discharge from eye (Ocular discharge): Pinkeye, Verminous pneumonia (Dictyocaulus filaria), contagious Agalactia

Dizziness: Insecticides (Aldrin, Endrin Chlordane and Dieldrin)

Drooping Ears: Listeriosis

Dry Patches on Skin: Fungal Disease (Ringworm), Mange

Excessive Salivation: Listeriosis, Allergies/Insect Stings, Rabies

Fever: Caseous lymphadenitis, Mastitis, Coccidiosis, Goat Pox, Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (P. multocida), Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), Pneumonia, Anthrax, contagious Agalactia, contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Listeriosis, Melioidosis, Babesiosis (Red Water), Heartwater, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Nairobi Sheep Disease

Frothing (Foaming from the mouth): Rabies, Bloat, contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia

Grinding of Teeth: Coccidiosis

Hair loss: Mange (Sarcoptes, Demodatic and Psoroptes), Ringworm (Fungus)

Head Pressing: Enterotoxemia

Inflammation between the toes: Footrot, Contagious Ecthyma

Inflammation of hair follicles: Ringworm (Fungus)

Itching: Lice, Mange

Lameness: Footrot, Foot and Mouth Diseases Virus, Brucellosis

Lethargic: Barber pole worm, Mastitis, Acidosis, Urolithiasis (Water belly)

Lies down/Unable to rise: Grass Staggers, Pregnancy Toxemia, Enterotoxemia

Loss of Appetite: Coccidiosis, Anthrax, Mastitis, Rabies, Contagious Agalactia, Johne’s Disease, Listeriosis, Melioidosis, Bloat, Encephalomalacia/Polioencephalomalacia (PEM), Urolithiasis (Water belly), Heartwater, Peste Des Petits Ruminants, Goat Pox

Low Milk Reproduction: Barber pole worm, Footrot, Contagious Ecthyma, Coccidiosis, Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), Copper deficiency, Johne’s Disease, Streptothricosis, Bloat, (Blood Parasite)-Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis (Red Water), Lice, Stomach and Intestine Roundworms, Rabies, Rift Valley Fever

Low Reproduction: (Blood Parasite)-Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis (Red Water)

Lumps: Mange

Nasal Discharge: Verminous Pneumonia (Dictyocaulus filaria), Pneumonia, contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Melioidosis, Nairobi Sheep Disease, Peste Des Petits Ruminants, Goat Pox

Nervous/Trembling: Grass Staggers

Painful Urination: Urolithiasis (Water belly)


Pale Mucus Membrane: Barber pole worm

Paralysis/partial paralysis: Listeriosis

Poor Growth: Coccidiosis, Barber pole worm, Soremouth, Babesiosis (Red Water), Flukes or flatworms (internal parasite), Lice, stomach and intestine Roundworms

Red Eyes: Pink Eye

Rough or Dull Hair Coats: Coccidiosis, Baber pole worm, Liver Fluke, Copper deficiency, Johne’s Disease, Scrapie, Goat Pox

Salivation/Seizures: Rabies, Encephalomalacia/ Polioencephalomalacia (PEM), Listeriosis

Scab or blisters by mouth: Contagious Ecthyma (Soremouth), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Peste Des Petits Ruminants, Goat Pox

Scabs (Body): Mange, Goat Pox

Severe Itching: Mange

Small Blisters (toes): Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Sore Anus: Anthrax

Sore Vulva: Anthrax

Sores (Eyes): Contagious Ecthyma (Soremouth)

Sores (Scrotum): Contagious Ecthyma (Soremouth)

Sores (Vulva): Contagious Ecthyma (Soremouth)

Sores Cheek: Rift Valley Fever

Sores Tongue: Rift Valley Fever

Sores (Ears): Contagious Ecthyma (Soremouth)

Strain to Urinate: Urolithiasis (Water belly)

Swallow Belly/Hay belly: Liver Fluke

Swollen Joints: Brucellosis, Contagious Agalactia, Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome

Swollen Testicles: Brucellosis

Tremors: Urea poisoning, Copper deficiency, Enterotoxemia, Scrapie

Udder Swelling: Mastitis, contagious Agalactia

Ulcerative Lesions (Inside Lower Lips/Gums): Peste Des Petits Ruminants

Usual Discharge from Vagina: Mastitis

Vomits: Milk Fever

Weight Loss/Off Feed: Footrot, Caseous lymphadenitis, Stomach and Intestine Roundworms, Johne’s Disease (M. Paratuberculosis), Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), Copper deficiency, Streptothricosis, Barber pole worm, Coccidiosis (Internal parasite), Trypanosomiasis, Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome

Worms: Barber pole worm, Flukes or Flatworms (internal parasite), Stomach and Intestine roundworms, Ringworm, Tapeworm

By Prairie View A&M University