Most goats in the United States are raised for meat, and the meat goat industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of livestock production in the United States.1 Historically, US goats were kept principally for milk or fiber production or occasionally for brush control or as pets, but current management and production goals for meat goats are more diverse and include exhibition and development of breeding stock in addition to meat production. The accompanying evolution in breed predominance and management approaches has likely caused changes in disease-related epidemiological factors. To the authors’ knowledge, such changes have not been explored and reported. Moreover, the changes in management and subsequent improvement in genetic characteristics have resulted in individual animals having high financial value. This often justifies more aggressive diagnostic and therapeutic options in providing veterinary care, and guidance regarding these activities is sometimes lacking in the scientific literature.
Pregnancy toxemia is often associated with high mortality rates in small ruminants, typically occurring in overconditioned or underconditioned animals carrying multiple fetuses.2,3 The pathophysiologic mechanisms of PT are poorly understood, although disruption of glucose homeostasis may play a role.2 Inadequate energy intake results in fat mobilization and ketonemia, which negatively impacts appetite, depressing feed intake and thus perpetuating the disease cycle. Older, multiparous sheep and goats are generally considered at increased risk for clinical PT.2,4
Treatment goals have traditionally included correction of perceived negative energy balance in the dam, generally achieved by increasing energy intake or decreasing energy demand associated with the pregnancy (through induction of labor or by C-section). Additional therapeutic goals include addressing electrolyte and acid-base disturbances and remedying any concurrent disease processes. Commonly recommended practices for increasing energy intake in small ruminants include provision of a highly digestible high-energy diet, IV dextrose administration, and oral administration of propylene glycol.2,3 Unfortunately, these treatment approaches often fail, and the prognosis for goats with PT is usually poor, especially if the diagnosis is made late in the disease process.
Several fairly recent publications5–8 have described PT in dairy goats; however, information pertaining to PT in goats of other breeds (eg, those raised for meat) is lacking. To the authors’ knowledge, risk factors and prognostic indicators for survival have not been previously reported for this population of animals. The objective of the retrospective study reported here was to describe the signalment, history, clinical and clinicopathologic findings, treatments, and survival rates in a mixed population of does (meat and dairy breeds) with PT and to determine prognostic indicators for survival of these patients and their offspring.
Presented in abstract form at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in Seattle, June 2013.
No third-party funding or support was received in connection with this study or the writing of the publication. The authors declare that there were no conflicts of interest.
Body condition score
Microsoft Excel, 2012, Microsoft Corp, Redmond, Wash.
Precision Xtra Ketone and glucose meter, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.
Multistix 10 SG Reagent Strips, Siemens Diagnostics, Erlangen, Germany.
VetScan iStat, Abaxis North America, Union City, Calif.
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