The word "choices" is used intentionally here because you really do have some choices in trying to treat bloat, depending on the severity of the situation. If there is just some slight expansion and the goat is still eating and moving about you certainly have a very different problem from the goat which is swollen "tight as a drum," prostrate and near death. We'll start with the easiest, least invasive technique which can be used in those cases of "mild" boat and move on to the heroics needed in real emergencies. Always remember that your veterinarian is more experienced in performing the drastic measures involved in the treatment of serious bloat.
Massaging and walking
Believe it or not, many cases of mild bloat can be dealt with by just spending some "quality" time with the patient. This is when it really pays to have a goat who is used to being handled. Elevate her front end by placing the front feet on some form of platform such as a milk stand, bench or ramp that is at least 12" off the ground. With moderate pressure, rub the abdomen for a few minutes. When you get tired of that, gently rub the front of the neck (area of the esophagus) and the throat. If you're brave, stick your finger in the side of her mouth and rub her tongue a little while stretching her neck forward slightly. This will almost always cause her to start burping. Alternate back and forth between the sides and the neck for a few cycles; then take her out for a little walk. Repeat the whole cycle a few times. If this process brings favorable results wherein the size of the abdomen has been visibly reduced, give her a dose of Probios®, let her be for a while and keep checking her every hour or so. If no improvement is noted, then you need to go to "the next level."
Now is the time to discuss the two different types of bloat. Simple or free gas bloat is rather straightforward in that the gas floats on the top of the rumen contents like the air at the top of a water tank. If you can open some form of passageway to the outside atmosphere, the internal pressure will cause the gas to escape. The more complex type is known as frothy or "legume" bloat wherein the gas is totally mixed in with rumen contents in a way that resembles whipped gelatin. In order to separate the gas from the rest of the mess you have to introduce something that will do this. The most common substance used is a product from your kitchen shelf: vegetable oil. Peanut oil is reportedly the best choice. (Others are corn oil, soybean oil; some sources say mineral oil can be used, but we don't recommend it.) If the patient is standing and capable of swallowing without difficulty, this can be administered with a large syringe or drenching gun. The use of a stomach tube is recommended below. The proper dose for a 130 lb doe is 6 to 8 oz.
There are also a number of pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of bloat, the most popular of these being Therabloat®. Follow label directions for mixture and dosage information. Improvement should be noted within a few minutes.
Many sources will recommend that these medications be administered by means of a stomach tube. Likewise, in cases of simple bloat the gas can frequently be released by the passage of a tube, which does nothing more than provide an unimpeded connection between the rumen and the outside world. Since it is pretty hard to tell what type of bloat you are dealing with from the outside, the placement of a tube is not a bad idea in either case. If you have simple bloat, the tube should allow for the rapid release of the trapped gas. If it's frothy bloat, then you are all prepared to administer the liquid treatment. If you've never done it before, it can sound pretty scary. The main thing is to chose a tube large enough to allow for the passage of the fluid but not so large as to cause the collapse of the trachea (windpipe) which lies alongside the esophagus. In a goat, it is not possible to insert a tube large enough to allow for the release of frothy bloat. [Clear tubing such as that sold with wine-making supplies is excellent.] If, as the tube is being inserted, you notice that the animal is having trouble breathing, then you would want to use a smaller tube. (Initially there may be a brief change in respiration because of anxiety.) After the tube is in place, make sure there are no breathing sounds in order to confirm that you have not placed the tube in the lungs. Move the tube around a little to see if you can cause the release of any gas. If no gas escapes, then you probably have frothy bloat. Wait a couple of minutes for both of you to relax. Then slowly pour the liquid into the tube. We prefer to use a 60 ml syringe (without the plunger) on the end of the tube to pour into. After the total amount of the liquid has run down the tube, wait a couple of minutes to give the full length of the tube time to empty. You do not want to be pulling the tube out while there is still liquid in it because it will cause some of the this to drip into the lungs. Withdraw the tube rapidly. The massaging techniques mentioned above may be helpful at this point.
The trocar and other horrors
If none of the above have been successful or if you come across an animal which is in serious trouble, you may have to decide between your squeamishness and the death of your patient. The proper instrument for direct intervention in the case of gas bloat is called a "trocar" (or trocar and cannula),pictured here: Put the pointed part with the handle through the tube. Aim for the highest spot on the left side and plunge the instrument right into the rumen. Withdraw the handle, leaving the tube in place. Gas will escape rapidly. The diameter of the tube on a regular trocar is too narrow to allow frothy bloat to escape fast enough, but antifoaming agents can be inserted through the cannula. Don't withdraw the tube until you are ready to suture the rumen, peritoneum and skin. Another good option would be to leave the tube in place and hasten to your nearest vet for the closing of the wound. The danger is that the rumen contents and/or dirt from the outside can get between the layers and cause a very serious infection called peritonitis. Don't let her drink any water.
Odds are pretty good, however, that you don't have a trocar in your vet box. Although we don't recommend it, you "can" use your pocket knife to make a 2" slice into the rumen. If you do this I'd recommend that you immediately insert some sort of 1" metal or hard plastic tube into the hole to help prevent peritonitis. Then head off to your vet immediately to get the damage repaired.
For frothy bloat the exit hole needs to be an inch or so in diameter. Therefore, it is best to rely on the anti-bloat agents mentioned above; if these don't work, you would be best to have your vet surgically remove the rumen contents.
I really hope that you've read all the way down to here BEFORE old Suzie Q is in real trouble. Reading about the trocar should be enough to encourage you to get enthusiastic about the simpler procedures at the top of the page. So when I say rub the abdomen before things get out of hand, think about that trocar and rub with vigor!
Ok, I inserted the tube and gently massaged his belly and the pressure released, then I gave vegetable oil down the tube, he is just laying here now but u can see that he appears to be breathing easier but he hasn't offered to try to move or anything, what do u think I should do now
Thanks for all the good advice folks, I did lose him but I think he was to far gone when I discovered that he was down. Did all I could. I did notice that their was a persimmon tree right above where he was at, do any of u think that mabye he ate one of them and that could possibly be what caused it?
I'm sorry. Yes,its possible he ate too many, especially new foods can cause Eneriotoxemia...Could be the bloat was secondary to his rumen shutting down. Im very sorry you lost him.
If you get another sick goat from this...Give C D Antitoxin, Pepto, B complex, 1/2 teaspoon or so of Baking soda in enough water to drench...Give Probios, walk the goat, you can do a knead motion on the left side in case bloat sets in..Offer electrolytes hay and green leaves, no feed...keep him moving..