Pepto-Bismol for Pip

Pip had a bellyache last night. Since a goat has four stomachs, that can be a lot of ache. The largest stomach (technically there’s only one stomach with four compartments, but everyone calls them stomachs) is the rumen. The rumen is like an expandable pouch. It’s where all of the bulky, grassy, thorny, leafy, barky things that goats eats are stored. It’s amazing the quantity of feed that can fit in there. Sometimes Pip eats so much that his left side (where the rumen is) sticks out in a lopsided way. Counterintuitively, an asymmetrical, bulky belly is a sign of a healthy goat. Bacteria in the rumen break down the tough matter. The goats regurgitate clumps of it and grind it with their teeth. That’s called chewing their cud. The goats burp. A lot. Burping is another sign of a healthy goat. Eventually it all goes back through the stomachs and on through the twists and turns of the digestive tract and comes out either as pee or as “goat berries.”

Last night Pip was not burping. He stood with his back roached (think curved like a Halloween cat.) His stomachs weren’t gurgling. He wasn’t chewing his cud. He didn’t want to eat. He looked wretched and you could tell that he felt very sorry for himself. I called the vet, who recommended dosing with an item that all goat-keepers have in their first aid boxes: Pepto-Bismol.

I gave Pip an ounce. He peed and pooped within the hour. By midnight he was chewing his cud. This morning at 5 am I heard him burp. He got another dose at 9 am. And that’s why Pip has a pink beard.

It’s hard to get Pepto-Bismol pink off of a goat’s beard. It’s rather like in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. In the book the pink spot moves on through the house, all the while getting larger and larger. In the barn the pink gets on my boots, on Caper, and on the stall door.

So, I’m leaving his beard pink. Let’s just say that he’s getting ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This is my first time treating goat bloat. I think that it came on because I moved the pasture fence and the boys had access to lots more greens. Perhaps there’s a toxic weed out there. At the same time, I gave him less hay in the morning, so he was eating all of those greens on an empty (for a goat) stomach(s). I provide goat minerals a couple of times a week; because of this experience I’ll finally build and put in a goat-proof mineral feeder so that he can have them free choice. Any experienced goat keepers want to chime in?


  1. Awww, look at poor Pip. Good to hear he is doing better. I had to give Pepto to a cat, what a mess! Refused to swallow and it just dribbled out everywhere, the floor, carpet anywhere she was trying to hide! Good luck Terry and hope Pip gets back to normal asap.

  2. Glad poor Pip is better. Actually, he looks a bit like a drag queen with his pink lips…

  3. We got a double dish from the feed store for minerals and baking soda and attached it to the stall wall. It was inexpensive and works great. They seem to like it and we love to make our goaties happy. :)

  4. As I write this, Pip is standing right in front of the camera. I think he’s trying to gain sympathy from us all.

    • I am hooting with laughter. Thanks for that. He is looking better, but he’s not out of the woods. Am still keeping a close eye on his behavior. Likely will have another dose of Pepto this afternoon.

  5. Poor Pip, but at least he didn’t blow up as I have heard Tony say about his poor goats when they got bloat.
    All I can think of is giving them access to baking soda. Maybe gettting the breeder of Pip and Caper to look at your fields and see if she sees any plants that need to be pulled out.

    • Yogurt not a good idea, but you can give them baking soda to the point where they froth at the mouth! Anyway, the pepto worked and he is burping and eating again!

  6. I’m sorry to hear Pip wasn’t feeling well but you sure fixed him up. Who know Pepto-Bismol could be given to animals and goats. I certainly did not. If Caper ate the same pasture that Pip did, I’m glad he didn’t get the same thing. You always have an eye on your animals, Terry. Glad it all worked out and everybody is okay. Pip does look cute w/ the pink beard and chin.

  7. There are a lot of plants that goats can get sick on. Caper is a picky eater, while Pip apparently is not. Most goats don’t like green tomatoes much, so I kind of wondered if Pip might get tummy trouble at some point. There used to be a book called Raising Dairy Goats the Modern Way, but I’m not sure who is writing or publishing it now. Been a while since I had goats. It was my handbook while I had goats. In it, there is a section that goes over harmful plants. Be careful what you feed them from your garden, and how much you give them. I lost a goat that way. They may try and eat everything, but they really can’t. Sounds like Pip only had a mild case of bloat, which is good hear. :).

      • Goats are very resilient critters normally. I had one goat that broke into the downstairs part of my house when I was away, and ate 20 lbs of dog food. I thought for sure she was going to die, but no. A couple of days of the runs, and she was fine. But I think I was lucky. ;) Good to hear you’ve got the book! Read up on bloat and enterotoxemia. Those two are the biggest worries for the most part, and it generally has to do with them eating stuff they shouldn’t. Both illnesses can move pretty darned fast too.

  8. do be s-o careful – (i know you will be) – i have no business even saying this, but i’m going to
    minerals can be dangerous. i don’t think you’ll find this in any book but early on in my farming adventures i lost a calf over feeding it minerals – as i remember free choice -at the time a heart-breaking thing and over the years the details have dimmed.give pip -(pep) a hug with that picture, you couldn’t help it

    • Jean, farming so often is learning from one’s mistakes, isn’t it? And hoping the mistakes aren’t too serious. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • The goats would certainly prefer the poison ivy to the grass! I do, though, worry about goats on tethers. They get tangled and injured easily.