HOW TO IDENTIFY & TREAT DRY HACKING COUGHS
Goats, Sheep & Swine can all develop dry hacking coughs. The coughs can stem from the environment or from a bacteria/virus. Either way, it’s important to take steps to eliminate the environmental irritants first. This helps to eliminate the quick fix. If the animal is still coughing, there may be bacteria that requires medicine to be treated.
STEPS TO CONTROL ENVIRONMENTAL IRRITANTS
CONTROL PEN DUST
If your pen is dusty every time the animal walks around, this could be causing the cough. A quick remedy is to add shavings or straw to reduce dust & keep your animal warm and comfortable. A dusty pen can cause coughs that can develop into lung ailments that will require antibiotics. For more information on bedding types, see the article Bedding 101.
If you haven’t made this part of your daily routine, perform the pen assessment evaluation to ensure that your pen is not contributing to the cough.
WORM YOUR ANIMAL
Worming with an Ivermectin based paste wormer will help to eliminate lungworms as a possible cough irritant. Give 1/3 of the tube each day for 3 days & repeat in 2 weeks. The cough should improve within a day or two if lung worms are present. The second dose in 2 weeks will kill lung larva that has hatched. If the cough does not improve after a few days, please contact your adviser for further observations. See article Parasite Control – Internal Parasites for more details.
Lungworms are a type of roundworm that can be found in the lungs and/or bronchial tissues. Adult worms lay eggs in the lungs or bronchial tissue. The eggs hatch into larvae, which are then coughed up, swallowed, and pass through to the gastrointestinal tract and into the feces.
CONTROL THE CLIMATE
Along with a 3 sided shelter, add a heat lamp during weather that is below 60 degrees day or night and add a warm blanket for Goats & Sheep. Swine can be bedded using the straw to increase warmth. Keeping your animal warm during cooler temperatures can ward off illness, and keeping them cool in hot weather can reduce their stress. For more information on improving the pen temperatures, see Barns – Pen Temperatures.
If coughing persists, perform the Daily Health Assessment Chart and call your adviser or vet for further diagnosis. First steps for antibiotics may be to administer by injection a Penicillin or Erythromycin based Over-the-Counter (OTC) medicine. For more information on injections see the article Injection Steps in the Health sections. Don’t worry if the thought of injecting medicine seems too much for you, ask your club leader or other experienced showmen for help. Giving shots is best performed by an experienced person.
It’s also important to mention that some medicines can be administered by placing the needle-less syringe into the back of the mouth. There are many debates about how much medicine is actually absorbed through the stomach wall. While most prefer injections, this is another solution to getting the medicine into your sick animal and is better than none at all.
The long and short of a cough is that it must be taken care of immediately. A cough is never good with any animal. So take charge of the environmental items and hope that the advisers and vets do not need to be called. But rest assured, taking care of all of the irritants will make your animal feel better. Do not hesitate to call for help. Sooner is always better than later.
- Shavings or Straw
- Heat Lamps & Extension Cords
- Fans & Misters
- Warm Blankets
- Syringes/needles – as needed
- Ivermectin Paste Wormer
- Penicillin or Erythromycin based medicines
- Prescription Antibiotics