Laminitis in goats occurs worldwide; however, the incidence is lower than that in dairy cattle and horses. Predisposing causes include overeating or sudden access to concentrates, high-grain and low-roughage diets, or high-protein diets. Laminitis can also develop as a complication of acute infections such as mastitis, metritis, or pneumonia, especially after kidding.
When laminitis is severe, the affected goat is lame and reluctant to move; there may be a fever, and all four extremities are hot to the touch. Touching the coronary band elicits severe signs of pain. In less severe cases, only the forelimbs are affected. Laminitis can become chronic if the initial phase is not diagnosed or treated successfully. The onset is insidious, but eventually the goat is seen walking on its knees, with deformed hooves with elongated toes (ie, sled-runner).
In acute laminitis, the predisposing condition, if identifiable, must be corrected promptly. The laminitis is treated with anti-inflammatories such as flunixin meglumine or meloxicam, and hosing or soaking the affected feet in ice water is also useful. Although antihistamines are frequently used, their effectiveness in treatment of laminitis in goats remains unproven. Similarly, the use of corticosteroids is controversial because they may contribute to laminitis in horses, and they should not be used in pregnant does because of the risk of abortion. Chronic laminitis with deformed hooves is treated via routine corrective foot trimming.