Goat Physical Therapy

21 Oct

I think the vet made a good diagnosis with Oreo.  He thought it was a vitamin/mineral deficiency.  She’s been getting thiamine (goat polio) and vitamin E daily.  He also gave her selenium.  She’s actually looking a bit more perky.


The problem is that she has no muscle mass.  Try giving those intramuscular shots on a goat this emaciated.  It’s not easy.  She’s eating well.  I’m giving her nutri-drench to provide calories and nutrients.  She’s getting Gatorade to drink.  Mom cut her some green grass to go with her goat chow, corn and hay.  It’s time to start physical therapy so she can walk again.

For someone little like Oreo, this is my instrument of torture.  I used the flannel sheet to make a sling.  I tied it with twine to keep the sling from slipping.  Then I just had to slip the goat in.

At first, it was too low to the ground, so I took her out and raised it.  That’s perfect!

Her back legs are standing pretty good.  She does have a little bit of strength left in them.  The front ones she just wants to drop to her knees.  I kept straightening them until she realized she was really going to be hanging if she tried getting on her knees.

Notice the sheet covers her entire belly.  That way it supports evenly and doesn’t put undue weight on her lungs or belly.

I was impressed with how long she actually “stood” there before she just had to lay down.  Of course, having lots of green grass in front of her was a good incentive.

Please note that I was with Oreo the entire time she was in the sling.  Do not ever leave a goat in a sling unattended.  It is way too dangerous.

The first time I had to do physical therapy on a goat that was down and couldn’t walk was my big buck Grover.  That was a bit more challenging, but it was the same principle.  I tried throwing him over a bale of hay, but he gained enough strength to push with his back legs and end up laying sideways on his face.  I’d have to rescue him (that was his goal~getting me to come back).  Finally I had to get creative and created a method to hang him.


It worked!  As a bonus, when he was laying I could get the belts (XXX Large from Wal-Mart) under him and use it to stand him up and then support him while he was re-learning to walk.  First a few steps and then around the edge of the pen.  It’s a long process, but it is worth it.  Again, NEVER leave a goat unattended like this.

Grover made a full recovery, and I’m actually starting to be optimistic that with continued extra care and physical therapy Oreo will be able to completely recover too.

Linking this to Farm Photo Friday~are you really on a farm before you’ve had livestock in your kitchen?

58 Responses to “Goat Physical Therapy”

  1. Barbara F. October 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    You are such a good goat mom! Praying for little Oreo! xo

    • Teresa October 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

      I’m not so sure. If I were that good of a goat mom, she probably wouldn’t have gotten so sick before I figured it out. Thank you so much for your prayers.

  2. Anne October 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Looks lovely in your kitchen. You do such a nice job with all you amazing animals. Figuring out what is wrong with our non-talking furry or feathered friends is a never ending job. I admire you for wanting and finding the time to treat her instead of just saying it’s too big of a job. My thoughts of healing and peace go to both of you. I love following your blog as it’s sent almost every day. I had to send this one to my daughter at Truman State. I want all my children to have compassion such as yours!

    • Teresa October 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      That is such a nice comment. I’m not sure I’m always successful, but I do try to make sure my animals get the care I would want for my human family. Thanks so much for following.

  3. Pondside October 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Fingers crossed for little Oreo!

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 7:20 am #

      Thank you. She does have a long road ahead of her.

  4. Bev October 22, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Oreo is so adorable! This makes me realize that I had it VERY easy with Gimli when he became ill! I’ll have to give my veterinarian this link so he has the information for a sling if one of his clients has a goat that needs one. I have the feeling that if they can’t get up on their own he does recommend euth. Maybe if this was an option for the clients with goats they valued highly he could offer it to them. I’m sure many would do it if they knew about it.

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      It really is a lot of work. Hoegger’s actually sells a sling for several hundred dollars, but this works. It’s hard for me to work with Oreo as much as I need to because I’m at work. Grover was doing PT just as I was done teaching for the summer, and I could spend way more time with him.

  5. Nancy October 22, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Poor little Oreo! I do hope she starts getting better. Having ill animals is always a worry.

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 8:17 am #

      She is actually showing improvement. She stood in the sling for 20 minutes this morning before she got tired, and she’s eating like crazy.

  6. TexWisGirl October 22, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    oh, that little one! glad she’s doing better! i hope she continues to cooperate with the sling and get stronger!

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Well, the more she fights it, the more she’s using those muscles too. It helps either way.

  7. Candy C. October 22, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Her healthy appetite is a good sign! With all your intervention I’m sure she will be okay! 🙂

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 11:04 am #

      She’s not out of the woods by any means, but she is doing better.

  8. Michelle | Goat Berries October 22, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Lots of goatie love and healing thoughts coming from Pasqualina, Pinta, and me!

  9. Alica October 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Bless her little heart…I hope she continues to be a fighter, and improves every day! I saw she’s a Boer cross…thought she looked familiar! 🙂

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

      She’s probably right at 3/4 Boer. She’s even started giving me the “goat stare of death” when I make her do PT. 🙂

  10. Stacia October 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Poor, sweet Oreo! We’re sending her healing thoughts and virtual grass nibbles!

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

      Thank you. We do appreciate it.

  11. Sharon Qualls October 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Sorry for Oreo, I hope your method works quickly for her!

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

      There’s nothing quick with physical therapy, but it is her best hope.

  12. EG Wow, Canada October 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Oreo is so lucky to have you! What a lot of work but it will be so worth it when Oreo has recovered.

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      I do hope she does recover. It will be a long road. Yes, it will be worth it.

  13. jen October 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Glad Oreo is doin alittle better… hope she keeps doin so.

    • Teresa October 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      Thanks. We’ll just keep doing what we can.

  14. estherjoy October 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Having a physical therapist and an occupational therapist in my family, I had to check out your goat PT. I am so impressed and hope your little goat is doing better daily!

    • Teresa October 24, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      Thanks. She’s had a long hard journey, and it doesn’t look good.

  15. Jen C. October 24, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Glad to see that Oreo is showing signs of improvement! You take such great care for your goats and you have so much patience with them. You are amazing! Seeing goat physical therapy has been interesting too 🙂

    • Teresa October 24, 2011 at 7:43 am #

      Many times the extra care pays off, but sometimes there just isn’t anything that can be done.

  16. Mimi Foxmorton October 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    You are most definitely the Miracle Worker……….

    all my love………

  17. Ashley Ann March 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    I’m actually going through something similar with a little boer doe..I was wondering if you had luck with Oreo..sometimes we all need al ittle encouragement from someone whose been through..or going throught the same thing 🙂 God bless, Ashley

    • Teresa March 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Oreo did not make it, but she was run down and sick for a long time before the polio. Depending on the cause of the problem, I’ve seen goats recover from illnesses that I never thought they could. Good luck to you and your little doe. Blessings.

  18. Ashley Ann March 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I’m sorry for your loss 😦 A “friend” asked us to take care of Sunshine..aka Sunny..after her dam got trampled by getting in to the next pasture with cows. She was about a month old then and is alot more healthy that she was starting out 🙂 My Dad and I made a stool, I guess you’d call it. We rotate her from it to a soft bed all during the day and she sleeps next to my bed at night. I’m going to add in your idea with the sheet and the saw horse. Thank you for sharing it. When your at your wits end its nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The Lord has blessed us with Sunny and we’re doing our best with His help 🙂 Thank you again and His blessings to you too! 🙂

    • Teresa March 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      It sounds like you have been a miracle worker for her so far. I hope her improvement continues. 🙂

  19. Marion August 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    I would like to have your input I am getting desperate. We rescues a flock of angora goats in December . They where underweight ,wormy, had lice and all had infected and puss feet. Broken horns and VERY scared. In May we finally got to the point they where healthy again. Then two gave birth. The babies and mothers are doing great. However 7 weeks ago disaster hit again. Two of the goats got sick and went down. I treated them with everything me and our vet could,think of ( I am a certified herbalist) and the goats are doing great. So far we still don’t know what they got. We did bloodtest and the vet is looking at a mistery illness too.
    The status right now is, they eat and drink good, overall they look content, no fever.BUT they still can’t get up.
    My chiropractor came by to look at them and he confirmed my fear, meningitis and now nerve damage in the spine. He still thinks there is hope, but they have been down for a long time now. I am going to make a sling tomorrow, but to be honest I am not sure I am doing the, a favor keeping them. On the other hand they are still too,good,to be put down.
    Is there anybody who have had a goat down for so,long and got him back up again?
    Thank you for reading.
    marion KY

    • Teresa August 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      If you mean the meningeal worm, it is highly unlikely they will recover if it isn’t treated right away. The nerve damage tends to be permanent. However, I don’t know the animals like you do. Has the vet given you the meds to treat the meningeal worm?

  20. Kathy Gauthier March 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    We have nursed a 2 year goat back from deaths door. We dewormed her and she was very anemic and weak, Vitamin B12 injections, iron injections, Magic and formula and she has gotten her full strength back. She is now eating hay and grain again and is ver alert and seems good to go except cannot stand on her front legs. She does ok with full weight on the back legs. We made the sling like you showed but she seems very content being supported by the sling and not making an effort to stand on the front. We hang a hay bag, put food in front of her. We even wrapped her front legs with horse wrap to keep them straight but she is not making an effort. We are looking for ideas. Are we just not being patient? Should we lift her back legs off the ground so she is forced to bear weight? Should we make a splint for the front legs like a hard mold so they are forced to be straight. Help, not sure what to do.

  21. Carrol Fish September 11, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    I just had a goat get injured and is she is not using her back legs. I have been looking for a method to try to help her start using her back legs again. I have been doing motion exercises and weight bearing exercises and I put her up on a bag filled with hay at the right height for her rear end to do these exercises. I have her in the backyard right now. I have been thinking about bringing her into my office so I can work and watch her at the same time. I was wondering how long you had to do this until function returned? Did you do any other exercises along with?

    • Teresa September 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

      I ended up losing my Oreo. I did this with a buck who was weak from pneumonia. I would highly recommend seeing your vet if your goat cannot walk from an injury. You need to make sure you are doing the right therapy.

  22. Carrol Fish September 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    I am sorry to hear that you lost your Oreo. I have lost a couple of goats and it just tears my heart out every time it happened. I am working with a vet. He is the one that diagnosed her with the soft tissue spinal cord injury after xrays. He gave me some general instructions to do weight bearing exercises for her back legs, but not really how to do it. I started to research goat physical therapy and found your page, then ok’d it with my vet. In a nutshell, I did alot of research, found your website and was happy to find it.

    She is starting to recover slowly from her injury. I am seeing slow progress from the motion, weight bearing and balancing exercises that I have been doing with using the sling that I fashioned out of a pair of old sweatpants (worked really well with a few caribiners) and the bag sitting. We are going back the vet within the next couple of days for an examination so he can see her progress.

    Your website explaining how to do this was in inspiration and a godsend!

    • Teresa September 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

      So glad to hear she is improving! Good luck!

  23. Maria December 3, 2015 at 2:35 pm #


    I came across your page while googling treatment option and therapy for our
    pet goat. Rocky is around a 6 month old whether, who rammed our dog one too many times. As soon as we saw that he was injured we took him into the vet, who
    gave him antibiotics for the bite and said to keep his wounds clean, but
    didn’t show any sign of a fracture, just soreness. About a week and a half
    later, he still doesn’t have full use of his front legs. But has been able
    to get around a little using his knees and head. We took him back in to
    the vet, who said the infection “set in the joints and locked them up”.
    Although the antibiotics have cleared up any infection he had, the damage is
    done, and recommended euthanizing him. We are not ready to make that call.
    Do you have any advice or recommendations for us, to help him get back the
    use of his front legs?

  24. Hannah April 20, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    What are you doing???? Hanging goat up in belts when it is down is downright cruel !!! If it is down, it is a nutritional, bacterial, viral or other sickness problem and hanging them up to make them stand and /or walk will only make them much worse. Looks like the wee one was scouring too.No wonder your poor little goatling died.

    • Teresa April 20, 2016 at 6:54 am #

      I would have taken the time to reply to your comment privately; however, as most people who leave snarky comments, you did not leave an e-mail address, so I’ll respond here. I don’t understand why you feel the need to scour the Internet looking for opportunities to be mean. I do have a image in my sidebar that reminds people “Because Nice Matters.” You obviously, do not understand that going to someone’s blog does not make it okay to be mean. Aside from showing the world that you are not a nice person, your comment also reflects your ignorance. The vet that I work with did not think it was cruel to get these animals up on their feet; it was considered necessary. If an animal is unable to get up, it requires that we help them stand because their lungs will fill with fluid and kill them if they are not up. In the future, if you cannot be nice, or at least civil, I highly recommend you keep your judgemental comments to yourself.

  25. Ruth Shain June 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    We recently had a mother goat give birth to twins, but the little girl could not use her back legs and the mother would not have anything to do with her. I took her and bottle raised her. That was about 7 weeks ago. I worked with her and got her on her feet, then walking, and finally, running. About two weeks ago, she got sick with a respiratory problem. Our vet worked with her and cured the problem, but now she can’t get back on her feet. She is eating well, her plumbing is working, and she seems happy, but her legs are very weak. I have been doing some physical therapy on her, and like your idea about the sling. Do you have any other suggestions?

    • Teresa June 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

      You could try a dose of Nutri-drench or ask your vet about a shot of BoSe. Itvs a tough situation. Best of luck. Typically my vet gives me the BoSe (or a vitamin cocktail) right away if I have a kid born like that. Not that uncommon with multiples.

  26. Inge September 24, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    Hi there.

    I have a goat that is eating well and drinking, responds well to me, but cant walk or stand. She was fine untill about a month ago. She is about 3 years old. Any suggestions?

  27. Anonymous July 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm #


  28. Edward July 19, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    I have a problem with my goats……I had a calf which recently died but I don’t know the cause
    .it has been shaking and not being able to stand up,it was walking on it’s knees so I was wondering if you know what might be the cause or maybe the disease because it’s affecting more of my livestock especially the calf

    • Teresa July 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

      I don’t have enough information to even make a wild guess. My best advice would be to call a vet for any others not feeling well. If you lose another, they can post it to find out what killed it. Otherwise, parasites are always a first thought. If you haven’t wormed them, that would be a good start. Depending on age–we’re in a drought–are moms getting enough to provide adequate milk? There’s just too many variables for me to even guess.

  29. Anonymous June 23, 2018 at 8:17 am #

    Hi could you please tell me how long before Oreo to use the front legs AGAIN?

    • Engela June 23, 2018 at 8:21 am #

      Hi I have a baby goat 2 weeks cannot stand alone. I am using your sling but would like some more info. Could you pls contact me. Thanks Engela

      • Teresa June 23, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

        The big question is why a 2 week old goat cannot stand. See a vet immediately.

  30. Leticia May 4, 2020 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi I find your method very interesting, my goat is going through same symptoms
    Could you give me detail info on how this therapy works once it’s hanging
    Thank you

    • Teresa May 4, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

      First and foremost is the importance of seeing a vet to determine what the cause is. There are some parasites that can cause paralysis and needs treatment immediately. This type of therapy is only successful if the underlying cause is treated. Putting the goat in a standing position is to help prevent pneumonia and keep the leg joints from locking up. It must be done only under constant supervision and not overdone. Again, my best recommendation is to contact a vet for assistance in developing a program to best meet the needs of your goat.

  31. Nikki Wilson May 31, 2020 at 5:34 am #

    I have a goat who has a Tramatic Brain Injury who will not stand and was looking for sling ideas thank you for posting pictures. How late my and how often did you do the sling. All info helps at this point. Thank You again

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