Posted By: Bibby - Farm Vet

Biscuit The Pygmy Goat

Biscuit a typically pet Pygmy Goat: Enjoys human interaction, likes playing with his goat friend Bobbin and loves food! It was one morning that his owner notices Biscuit wasn’t quite him self, he was very quiet, didn’t want to play fight with Bobbin and didn’t want to eat any food that was offered to him, he had spent the morning standing outstretched and appeared to be in pain.

I was ask to hve a look at Biscuit to see if I was able to find the cause of this sudden change in behaviour.  I started off by taking a history, Biscuit, a male, castrated Pygmy Goat had lived at his current home for most of his life, coming from a breeder when he was weaned. He had a lovely home were he had access to a little paddock and cosy barn to shelter. His owners had first noticed Biscuit being off colour the previous day, when he didn’t improved the next day they had given Shepton Vets a call.

I performed a clinical exam. When I listened to his heart, his rhythm was normally, however, his heart rate was high, this suggested to me that Biscuit was in pain. The rest of Biscuits clinical exam was fairly unremarkable, his rumen was turning over (This is one of his stomachs), he didn’t have a temperature and when I listened to his chest that all sounded healthy too. There was however, one area of concern, Biscuit didn’t like having the his tummy, especially near his urethra (this is tube that he is usually able to urinate through) palpated. This then started to make me think that biscuits pain was associated with his urogenital tract. I decided that I would clip the hair on Biscuits tummy so I could have a look inside with the ultrasound scanner. What I was able to see was that biscuit had a very large bladder, because Biscuits owners hadn’t seen him urinating, I was now suspicious that Biscuit had an obstruction somewhere within his urethra, as a result this would mean he wasn’t able to pass urine, which was the cause of his discomfort. With each hour passing, Biscuits bladder was getting fuller and more distended, causing him a lot of pain.

After discussion with his owners we decided to take Biscuit into the surgery, where he could be monitored carefully by the nurses, we would be able to assess Biscuit better and if necessary, perform surgery to relieve the obstruction.

Biscuit was put into a comfy kennel, after being given some pain relief and some medication that causes the muscles within his urethra to stop spasming to see whether he would be able to pass the obstruction by him self. A couple of hours later, although Biscuit seemed slightly less painful, he still hadn’t passed any urine. The next step was to sedate him and try and pass a urinary catheter. By passing a catheter you are hoping to push the obstruction back into the bladder and then allowing urine to flow again. We were unable to pass a catheter to relieve the obstruction. By this point, Biscuit hadn’t passed urine for 6 hours whilst he had been in our care. We needed to remove some of the urine from his bladder to make him feel more comfortable and prevent his bladder from rupturing. A long fine needle was passed into his bladder through his body wall to allow it to drain.

Biscuit was then left over night with more pain relief and monitored to see whether he passed any urine. Morning came and Biscuit had still not passed any urine. So Biscuit was rushed into surgery. Whilst Biscuit was under anaesthetic, we made an incision into his urethra and removed a pea size stone that was causing some of the obstruction. We then tried to catheterise his urethra, but again we weren’t successfully at getting any urine out. This suggested to us that there was another obstruction further up the urethra, nearer the bladder. Due to the shape of a goats urethra there are some areas that are particularly difficult to access via surgery. As a result of this we made the decision to perform a Urethrostomy on Biscuit. This is where you make a new urine output along the urethra, in Biscuits case this was to allow him to urinate from below his anus. In theory making him urinate as female goat would. At this point we could catheterise the bladder and successfully got lots of urine back out. 

The surgery had been a success, Biscuits obstruction had been corrected. He had been sutured up, a light dressings applied to keep it clean. The catheter had been left in place to allow free flow of urine from the bladder and to make sure the new urethrostomy site didn’t close over. Although biscuit was through the surgery, he wasn’t out of the woods yet. He needed careful nursing over the next couple of days to make sure he was eating, drinking and continued to pass urine. The whole team of small animal nurses did a great job of checking up on biscuit through his stay. Taking him on little walks around the practice, making sure he had only the tastiest of treat to build up his appetite. Biscuit continued to make steady progress during his hospitalisation, 4 days after the surgery we removed the urinary catheter and Biscuit still continued to urinate. After a week at the practice Biscuit was able to go home, his owners still needed to continue his care at home, making sure he had a barrier cream applied around the stoma site and ensuring his has lots of clean fresh water, encouraging him to drink.

Biscuit continues to do well at home, he is much more himself now, eating all his food and play fighting with his friend Bobbin. The successful out come in Biscuits case is down to team work, he was luckily that he had such attentive owners that noticed him being ill so quickly and called for help at the right time. Biscuit was lucky he had a brilliant team of nurses looking after him and that the Farm and Small Animal Vets were able to work together to perform his surgery.


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