Coughing and runny noses have just as many potential causes for goats as they do for humans; there's a reason their offspring are called "kids." Determining why your goat has a runny nose and a cough is vital to your goat's health. It is especially important to know if your goat is showing signs of pneumonia, a disease that is potentially deadly if untreated.
Coughing and a runny nose in a goat can be caused by stress, exposure to drafts or wetness, dust, dusty winds, viruses or allergies. If your goat is not sheltered after being stressed by a move or by exposure to the elements, it is possible for a simple situation, such as allergies, to evolve into pneumonia. This can be fatal, especially in kids.
By themselves, coughing and runny noses do a goat little harm, but if the illness escalates, time is vital. If there is ever any question--especially if your goat starts to lie down often--call your veterinarian promptly.
Symptoms of pneumonia in a goat include coughing, runny eyes and nose, fever, loss of appetite, fast breathing and high temperature. Pneumonia, also called "lung sickness," is caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or allergies--usually after exposure to drafts and dampness. If your goat has symptoms of pneumonia, contact your veterinarian immediately. Prevent pneumonia by providing dry, draft-free housing with good ventilation. The housing does not need to be heated.
Coughing and runny nose may be caused by dust in the air, on the wind or in your goat's feed. If you have a kid born in the early summer and you have had dry, hot winds, keep it in a sheltered place out of the wind. If dust pneumonia sets in, and the kid will seem lethargic, tired and disinterested. If your kid displays this, immediately call your vet for treatment, because your kid could die 24 to 48 hours after displaying symptoms.
Goats have allergies too, and its coughing and runny nose may be seasonal allergies to common pollens. Ensure that a goat that is coughing regularly and has a runny nose stays out of of dusty winds, as this may be more than enough to induce dust pneumonia. If the symptoms are extreme, call your veterinarian.
The occasional cough and runny nose is perfectly natural, but if they come with other symptoms--such as apparent tiredness, a fever (specially a high fever) and a loss of appetite--immediately contact your veterinarian. If you do not yet have a vet, call a large animal clinic and ask if their vets have experience with goats. Ask for a referral if they do not. On your first vet visit, be sure your vet answers all your questions and handles your goat in a gentle but firm manner.