Bud wasn’t feeling well on Thursday evening. I wasn’t sure what it was, but he had a bit of a phlegmy cough, and I thought he might have a low grade fever. His eyes were also a bit pale, so I treated him for a respiratory infection and wormed him. He seemed about the same or a bit better Friday. Saturday morning, he was outside shivering. I thought that was due to the fever again. When I went out Saturday afternoon, he was lying in the building and just barely grinding his teeth, which is a sign of pain. He also had a bit of mucusy stool on his back side. I immediately called the vet because this was completely different and obviously not a lung infection.
When my vet came, he wanted to see how Bud moved. He watched carefully and then did an exam. Bud had no fever, but the vet did say the stool could be a sign of straining. He was worried about urinary blockage. After the exam, he thought he might have felt a full bladder, but he wasn’t completely certain because Bud wasn’t standing hunched or straining or acting like he was trying to pee. Still, he recommended getting him to Iowa State University’s vet hospital.
Urinary blockage due to stones is very common in goats, primarily wethers. Girls have a short, straight urethra that typically doesn’t get blocked. Males, however, are not designed well (see my inadequate sketch above). They have a fairly long urethra. It also has a sigmoid flexure, that is an S curve. It’s not uncommon for any little stone to get lodged in that curve. Also, the end of their penis has a urethral process, which is just a teeny, tiny extension that is TINY.
Edited 10-26-14: Boeris was nice enough to illustrate the urethral process. :-)
Their ultrasound exam confirmed a urinary blockage. His bladder was very full, and she could see extra fluid around the urethra indicating a rupture. She immediately outlined several options. First was sedating him a little bit to get him to relax so she could try to work his penis down the sheath, and they would remove the urethral process. That didn’t work. She kept losing it in the area of fluid.
The next choice was the massively expensive because it’s an after hours emergency surgery. Well, if we didn’t do emergency surgery, he would have died. There’s no way it would have fixed itself. I silently thanked the great goat god Pan that I have an off-farm job I wish I didn’t have because I can make completely irresponsible financial decisions, and I consented for him to have surgery and went home to wait.
When she called after the surgery, he had come through and was recovering. The blood work indicated that his kidneys were in horrible condition. His bladder was also in very poor shape because of how much it had been stretched. The goat’s bladder is like a balloon. It doesn’t usually burst, but it gets larger and larger and more thin and will eventually begin leaking when it gets too thin. Even though it didn’t burst, it was not going back to its proper size, and he had lost most of the mucosal lining on the inside. She was very adamant that on a scale of minor to severe, Bud was SEVERE.
The immediate concern after the surgery was flushing his system and trying to get his kidneys functioning properly again. He had lots of IV fluids pushed through his system, and this morning, blood work showed that he was greatly improved. She was actually surprised at how much his kidneys had improved. Since the kidneys are healing, that leaves the bladder.
During the surgery, they removed his urethral process. Hopefully that will prevent any stones getting stuck there in the future. Because his urethra needs to heal, they also put in a catheter. The tube comes out under his belly. The hope is that he will be able to heal and they can gradually reduce the catheter and he’ll be able to go back to his normal plumbing. (I don’t want to know what happens if he doesn’t heal properly and regain function.)
The vet did say he most likely still has stones in his urethra, and they want to make sure he can pass those before he comes home too. With all this, he’ll stay there until next week some time if all goes well. They will also analyze the stones to determine their composition and then we can adjust his diet if necessary. That’s usually what causes the stones, some kind of imbalance that allows stones to develop.
I’m going to share this with Alphabe-Thursday for the letter v. V is for vet’s that I am so grateful for.