There are three types of injections that goats in our area need annually; tetanus toxoid, BoSe, and a vaccination for enterotoxemia. Since Tinker Bell and Honey are now over a year old, it’s time to give them these yearly shots; and I thought that’d be relatively simple. But, it wasn’t quite that easy – here’s what I learned (skip to the last paragraph if you don’t want to know all the details on drugs for food producing animals):
1) First of all, what do these vaccinations prevent?
- Tetanus toxoid - provides long term protection against tetanus (deadly if untreated) which is caused when a wound becomes infected with tetanus bacteria (these bacteria live in all soil).
- Enterotoxemia vaccination - enterotoxemia is a condition where bacteria normally present in the goat intestinal tract grow uncontrollably. It occurs when movement of food through the intestines slows because of overeating of grain, spring pasture, milk, or milk replacer. It often occurs in spring after goats bloat from eating too much new spring growth, and is commonly referred to as “overeating” disease (also deadly if untreated).
- BoSe – this is a selenium and vitamin E booster commonly given to goats residing in selenium deficient areas. It is necessary to maintain muscle tone in adults, and prevent “white muscle disease” in kids.
2) Where/how do you obtain these substances?
In order to answer this, I had to learn more about drugs for food producing animals:
There are two categories of drug types:
- Over-the-Counter (OTC): Available without a prescription and can be found at animal or farm supply stores/on-line.
- Prescription (Rx): Used when a proper diagnosis and special instructions are needed. Rx drugs are restricted by federal law to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian (these drugs can be purchased from an animal supply store, but must have a copy of a veterinarian’s prescription).
- Legal: Owner follows ALL directions on the label of the medication.
- Off-label: Owner deviates from label direction in any way. Off-label use of drugs is ALWAYS illegal!
- Extra-Label Drug Use (ELDU): Under direction from a licensed veterinarian and owner may deviate from label directions.
ELDU occurs any time that 1) a non-approved product is used; 2) and approved product is used in a way that differs from the label or insert; or 3) a product used for a condition not specified on the label.
For ELDU, there must be an established Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR), determined by: 1) veterinarian has seen the animal or others in the same herd and can make decisions regarding an animal’s treatment; 2) client follows the treatment instructions; 3) veterinarian calculates a reasonable withdrawal time, and 4) the veterinarian is available for follow-up.
The distinctions for ELDU are important because most of the products developed and labeled for livestock have not been tested on goats and have not been FDA-approved for use. Because of the small number of goats in the US, most companies can’t justify the costs required to test their products on goats, so using them legally falls under “ELDU” requirements.
For enterotoxemia, the vaccine is often combined with the tetanus toxoid, and is called a CD/T vaccine. I was able to find this on-line at animal supply vendors, but the BoSe is an Rx drug – so I called the vet and he supplied both.
3) How should these drugs be administered – I know it’s a shot, but how and with what?
The label should indicate one of the three methods below (if both IM and SQ are given as acceptable methods, it’s generally given to goats SQ):
- Intramuscular (IM): Given deep into the muscle. Generally a needle length of 1” to 1 ½” and gauge of 18 to 20 is used (the larger the gauge, the finer the needle). Drugs administered IM absorb faster that SQ but slower than IV.
- Subcutaneous (SQ or subQ): Given under the skin. Needle length of ½” to 1” and a gauge of 18 to 20 is used. Use the “tent” method by pulling up the loose skin in the area of the injection site. Holding the syringe and needle parallel to the body, push the needle through one layer of the skin and administer the medicine into the cavity created.
- Intravenous (IV): Administer medication into the vein. It’s sometimes difficult to locate the vein, and this method is not recommended for inexperienced owners.
The BoSe supplied by the vet specified giving 2 cc under the skin in neck to adults, while the CD/T specified injecting 2mL subcutaneously.
So, I’ve worked my way through all the information above, I’ve got the drugs, needles, and syringes; all set right? Nope – the next thing I read is that you should never give a goat an injection without having epinephrine on hand in case the goat goes into anaphylactic shock. And, of course, it’s an Rx drug. “Sigh”; called the vet again, the epinephrine should be here in two days. So much for being relatively simple – the goats still don’t have their annual injections. I have to go away for several days, and I now know enough about “overeating” disease that I’ll worry about the goats somehow overeating and killing themselves while I’m gone.