Acidosis is also known as toxic indigestion. It occurs when a high proportion of concentrate (carbohydrates) is fed in the ration, either acutely or chronically.

Signs: Signs may include depression, lack of appetite, bloat, lack of rumination, staggering, diarrhea or lack of manure, muscle twitching, and teeth grinding. Severe rumen acidosis can be accompanied by systemic and often fatal acidosis. Respiratory distress, shock, cardiovascular collapse, coma, seizures and death occur in severe cases.

Treatment: Administer 2 to 3 ounces of sodium bicarbonate by mouth, which will help neutralize acid in the rumen. Magnesium hydroxide or magnesium oxide can also be used to neutralize rumen acid. Encourage consumption of long-stemmed grass hay and water. Many animals with acidosis will require IV fluids to survive. Antibiotics will help prevent secondary bacterial overgrowth with undesirable organisms. Thiamin treatment is recommended because polioencephalomalacia is a potential sequela. Anti-inflammatories will help prevent toxicity and founder. Probiotics should be administered to replace the beneficial rumen organisms that have been killed due to low rumen pH. If a goat is showing clinical signs of this disease, a veterinarian should be called to administer proper treatment due to the seriousness of the illness, complicated treatment and number of possible severe complications.

Control/Prevention: Control consists of gradual introduction of goats to grain. If goats are being fed a high-concentrate diet, distribute grain over three or more meals per day, at 2 to 3 pounds per meal. Feed whole grains instead of finely-ground grains and dry grain instead of wet. Feed roughage before grain, first thing in the morning. Supplement with bicarbonate of soda or calcium carbonate and magnesium. Prevent access to unlimited amounts of carbohydrates, such as windfall apples and bags of grain.

Keywords: acidosis, toxic, grain, indigestion

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Reference: Mary C.Smith & David Sherman: Goat Medicine, “Indigestion and Rumen Acidosis”.