Fire- Burn wounds in Angora goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 2nd November 2023

Veld fires in the Karoo region are uncommon but are more likely to occur in marginal grass veld areas and in decades to come.

What should we do if an Angora goat suffers burn wounds?


  1. Seek Veterinary help if available
  2. Goats that have been burnt should be immediately assessed as to the extent of the burns and then, depending on the injuries, either treated or emergency euthanasia.

When should emergency euthanasia be carried out? (Those with a poor or hopeless prognosis)

  • Feet, mammary glands, eyes that make treatment unviable.
  • Charred limbs, muscles that limit eating or drinking
  • Smoke or flame inhalation results in acute pneumonia, laboured breathing, coughing, and frothing at the nose and mouth.
  • Goats unable to stand because of the burn wounds

 TREATMENT – immediately (Those with a fair prognosis)

  1. Provide water immediately
  2. Immediately apply cool to cold running water (2 to 15°C) directly to the burn wound. Cooling is analgesic and improves long-term wound healing; these beneficial effects are seen as long as cooling is within three hours of injury (Cuttle et al., 2008)
  3. Give pain relief (anti-inflammatory)
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Topical wound treatment can be obtained from your vet
  6. i/v fluids (vet involvement), wound dressings where viable 

Profound hypovolaemia can occur within hours of a severe burn, and loss of fluid through evaporation, combined with local vascular leakage from the burn surface. Intense pain stimulates a massive sympathetic response, promoting shock's cardiovascular effects.


The following day, each goat must be examined, and details of injuries recorded.

Examine: face, ears, lips, anus, vulva, teats, penis, prepuce, scrotum, axilla, inguinal areas, legs and feet.

Lame goats with hooves missing and/or separation between hooves and the coronary band will be in ongoing pain and, unless constant pain relief can be guaranteed, must be euthanised.

For all goats:


  1. a) Ongoing pain relief
  2. b) Topical wound treatment (discuss with your vet)
  3. c) Antibiotics (as advised by your vet)
  4. d) Prophylactic flystrike prevention



  • Soft level ground
  • Good feed (lucerne hay) and water -burnt goats will be reluctant to move
  • Check the goats often to confirm they can move to water and can drink. Animals that are unable to drink must be euthanised.
  • Provide shade

The impact of smoke influences prognosis, and the full effect of this injury may not be seen for 24 to 36 hours. Immediate clinical signs (hypoxia and respiratory crackles/ wheezes) are usually only seen in severe cases. The majority of pulmonary damage and systemic pathophysiology are caused by inhalation of toxic chemicals, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide (Vaughn and Beckel, 2012).

Research on burn wounds found that the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hooves, perineum, and ventral aspect of the abdomen were most commonly affected in both goats and sheep.

The recovery time is lengthy, and it was found that the median (range) time to discharge from the hospital for goats was 11 (3 to 90) days.

Goats generally have a better outcome than sheep and pigs after suffering burn wounds.

 Common complications and reasons for euthanasia:

  • Laminitis
  • Devitalization of distal limb



Clinical management and outcomes for goats, sheep, and pigs hospitalized for treatment of burn injuries sustained in wildfires: 28 cases (2006, 2015, and 2018). Munashe Chigerwe, Sarah Depenbrock

Improve veterinary medicine Georgia Jenkins, Georgia Jenkins, BVSc, PGDipVCP, MRCVS,

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