Have you ever wondered about why your goats have been struggling with dry skin? Dry skin in goats can often be a significant source of worry and concern for many people – and with this thought in mind, finding the most effective solutions for your goat’s dry skin is integral. Fortunately, we’ve outlined some of the key things you need to know about dry skin in goats. Hopefully, this will help you answer questions about “why does my goat have dry skin” and how you can find a suitable way forward from this issue.
However, before we go any further, we strongly recommend that you contact your veterinarian for professional support regarding your goat’s dry skin. While dry skin isn’t usually a major worry, it is uncomfortable for your goat and can put them at greater risk of infections (due to breaks in the dry skin). As such, getting professional treatment for your goat’s dry skin as soon as possible is vital.
Why Does my Goat Have Dry Skin?
There are countless different reasons for your goat to develop dry skin. However, in most cases, dry skin in goats may be the result of some form of skin irritation.
Burned skin during the summer months is one such example and can be especially prone under the tail (where there is no fur to protect the skin from burning). However, there are also many other causes of dry skin in goats that you should consider. For example, if your goat has lice or mites, it may develop dry skin due to itching.
Similarly, regular irritation or cold may cause dry skin; for example, you might notice dry skin on the tips of your goat’s ears if they are cold or (for breeds such as Boers) if they get chilled while drinking.
Alternatively (and more seriously), dry skin can also be caused by fungal infections on your goat’s skin. The most common and well-known of these is perhaps orf, which is incredibly contagious to other goats
In short: there’s no limitation in the number of causes of dry skin for your goats. However, in many cases, dry skin is caused by some form of irritation. As such, in order to treat dry skin, you often need to start by identifying the cause of the irritation to rule it out.
Is Dry Skin an Issue for your Goats?
Dry skin can be an issue for your goats, but it’s not dangerous in most cases. However, three prominent risks associated with dry skin for your goats may be worth noting.
Firstly, it’s worth considering that dry skin is very uncomfortable for your goat to experience. As a result, they may be prone to scratching the dry skin in an effort to find relief – which can stop them from eating properly. In turn, this may predispose your goat to not eating enough and losing condition (especially if they are productive animals).
Secondly, dry skin can increase the risk of your goat getting an infection. Since dry skin is less supple than normal skin, it’s much more prone to cracking and tearing. This, of course, can be painful and frustrating – imagine a paper cut. However, it can also open a route for bacteria and pathogens to get into your goat’s bloodstream, risking their health accordingly.
Finally, there is always a risk of dry skin being caused by a highly infectious pathogen, such as orf. This can spread to people and may be dangerous, so you should always carefully handle dry skin. And, critically, it’s crucial to always handle goats with dry skin carefully, taking appropriate measures to protect yourself or other goats from getting ill – just in case.
The Symptoms of Dry Skin in Goats
The most obvious symptom of dry skin in goats is that the skin will appear chapped, cracked, and sometimes thickened.
You may also notice that your goat is incredibly distressed when suffering from dry skin, potentially trying to scratch the dry skin regularly or acting as if wound up and distressed. The dry skin could also cause pain, especially around sensitive areas such as the face or the udder.
How to Treat Dry Skin in Goats
Treating dry skin in goats should always be done based on veterinary advice since there are numerous causes for the issues. However, some potential treatments for dry skin in goats may include gentle baths and washes for the affected area, moisturizing products to help soften the skin, and antibiotic or antiseptic treatments, depending on the cause of the issues. If practical, you may also need to cover the dry skin to prevent the goat from scratching it and opening new wounds.
Preventing Dry Skin in Goats
Preventing dry skin in goats generally relies on a regular health check approach since there’s very little you can do to prevent dry skin specifically. However, if your goats are outdoors, you should always ensure they have good access to shelter and shade during intense weather to reduce the chances of sunburns. In addition, you should always follow good biosecurity principles and procedures to ensure conditions such as orf are not brought onto your property.
Inevitably, there’s only so much you can do. As such, you should always keep a close eye on your goats, and if you suspect one has the start of dry skin, early treatment can be highly effective for helping your goat to recover and overcome its symptoms.
If your goat has experienced dry skin, this may not be a cause for immediate concern. However, some concerns about dry skin in goats may be much more severe and serious, such as if your goat has developed orf. With this thought in mind, we strongly recommend handling dry skin in goats with suitable protection; it’s often best to assume the worst, even if the dry skin is likely just due to skin irritation. Plus, you should always contact your vet as soon as possible to get professional treatment for this, so the issue doesn’t worsen.