Behavioral changes in your goat or sheep sometimes can indicate a recent injury or skin laceration. To help you recognize behavioral changes, here are a few signs to look for: a decrease in feed intake; personality and social changes, such as being less responsive and isolated; and sometimes the reverse also is a sign of an irritation or wound. Your animal might become agitated with a particular spot on its skin and aggravate it by rubbing or scratching it.
Physical signs of a cut or skin irritation include hair loss, reddened skin, swelling, scabs and crusting, blood, or discharge. When you notice these signs, you should carefully examine the animal. Remember to wear gloves while examining your animal’s cut or lesions, as some sheep and goat infections are contagious to humans!
When you’ve located the irritation or wound, you should contact your local veterinarian for advice in treatment. For some minor irritations, you may trim surrounding hair with clean grooming clippers to prevent further infection or dirt from collecting in the wound. Use clean gauze soaked with an antibacterial or saline solution and gently swipe the area clean, followed by gently patting dry with a clean towel. Provide fresh, clean water and confine the animal in a pen or stall. Follow up with your veterinarian so that a thorough examination can determine if the skin irritation requires professional medical treatment or bandaging. Daily awareness of your animal’s behavior and physical appearance will ensure early treatment and help prevent serious problems from developing.
column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an associate veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.