One of the most frequent medical emergencies in goats is a condition called urolithiasis, which is obstruction of the urinary tract from stones. The most common cause is over conditioning (obesity) and suboptimal diet. It is primarily a disorder of neutered male goats. Avoiding grain and alfalfa in these animals’ diets is key to reducing their risk of stone development. 

Comet, a neutered Nigerian Dwarf goat, presented to BEMC with signs of straining and vocalizing. At arrival, his heart rate was elevated, and he frequently stood like he was posturing to urinate but wasn’t passing any urine. An abdominal ultrasound confirmed his bladder was enlarged. 

Urinary obstructions are medical emergencies in goats for a couple of reasons: 

  1. The bladder can rupture.
  2. Retained urine in the bladder can cause severe electrolyte derangements and kidney damage, which can be life-threatening. 

Luckily for Comet, his bladder was intact, the obstruction was caught quickly, and his bloodwork was normal. 

Comet underwent a surgical procedure called a tube cystotomy to correct his obstruction. We placed a tube within the bladder that drains out the side of the abdomen, just in front of the hind legs, to bypass the lower urinary tract (urethra). This allows the lower urinary tract to relax and can encourage the stones to pass spontaneously. During surgery, we can also remove any stones we find in the bladder manually. 

Comet did great following surgery, and his tube remained in place for about four weeks before being removed. He is now back to urinating normally and living his best life with his family.