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Allergy treatment for a goat
Allergy Treatment for a Goat

Does the spring pollen have you in a sneezing fit? Does stepping outside make your eyes water? It turns out humans aren’t the only ones with allergies. Animals, too—even goats—get them.

Spice, a 7-year-old Nigerian dwarf goat, receives allergy injections every two weeks to treat her symptoms.

“Keepers first noticed Spice had dander and was losing her guard hairs and undercoat,” explained Associate Veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson. “With the assistance of a team of veterinary dermatologists from the Dermatology Clinic for Animals in Lacey, we tested her for allergies, and sure enough, the results showed she is allergic to quite a few things.”

The long list of Spice’s allergens include:

  • Trees: elm, cottonwood, sugar maple, white oak, black willow, white ash, juniper
  • Grasses: Timothy grass, sweet vernal grass, Johnson grass
  • Weeds: Pigweed, dock, English plantain, Russian thistle (commonly known as tumbleweed)
  • Molds/yeast
  • Insects: housemite, storage mite, insect mite, flea
  • Cat dander, mixed feathers, sheep

At first, keepers wiped Spice down twice a day with a damp cloth to remove pollens or allergens. Then, they tried bathing her with medicated soap and/or a hydrating mousse. While it seemed to give immediate relief, keepers and veterinarians agreed they needed a long-term solution.

“We began positive reinforcement training so Spice would voluntarily receive the allergy injections,” explained Assistant Curator Donovan.

Over time, Donovan and the keepers have built trust with Spice and desensitized her to touch. When she steps onto a bench, they offer her a tasty reward, like timothy hay pellets. More treats come when they touch her. Eventually, she allows them to give her an injection. It’s become such a routine part of their training that Spice doesn’t even seem to notice anything at all—just her treat awaiting her. 

“Her coat is back to normal. She looks beautiful and doesn’t seem to have any symptoms anymore,” said Donovan. “She is such an energetic, spunky goat again.”