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Why Does Goats’ Breath Stink?

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Some people might find it unusual, but people do keep goats as pets. These mammals can be quite inquisitive, which makes them fun to keep. One issue that can come with keeping them is bad breath.

Why does goats’ breath stink?

Goats’ breath may stink for many reasons. One reason is poor dental hygiene. Crusty deposits can form in between the teeth if they are not cleaned properly. Apart from poor dental hygiene, oral and respiratory diseases can lead to a goat having bad breath.

tonged out of a Goat in a Farm

If you are unsure of what your goat’s breath should smell like and other things you should know about a goat’s breath, this article gives you the details.

Why Does Goats’ Breath Stink?

If you are keeping goats as a pet or as livestock, it is important to check them routinely. While checking them, if you notice bad breath, it might be indicative of something serious. You should schedule a veterinarian visit to verify what’s going on with your goat.

The health of a goat’s mouth is similar to that of humans.

When a goat has bad breath, it might be due to dental plaque, tartar, mouth diseases, or respiratory diseases.

Dental Plaque and Tartar

As humans, we can remove plaque and tartar by brushing our teeth regularly. With goats, thorough cleaning is not usually necessary.

Two funny goats sticking together

Mouth Diseases and Respiratory Diseases

Goats eat all kinds of things, and sometimes, what they eat pierces their gums and causes an infection. In some cases, leaving them in an environment with polluted air (such as an ammonia-polluted environment) puts them at risk of respiratory diseases.

When a goat has a mouth disease or a respiratory disease, the bad breath may be the least of your worries. They can show signs of weakness and other unpleasant symptoms. You must prioritize getting treatment for them as quickly as you can.

When a goat has a respiratory disease, it may show other signs such as fever, nasal discharge, cough, and breathing difficulty. If you notice any of these signs, call a veterinarian immediately.

If you have many goats, you should isolate the infected goat immediately. Do this preferably with protective gear to avoid getting infected.

Besides bad breath, other signs you may notice in a goat with mouth disease are swollen, bleeding, and reddish gums. This should also be tended to by a veterinarian.

The Type of Food They Eat

Another reason your goat’s breath may be foul-smelling is its diet. If it is eating things that have a terrible smell, its breath will most likely reveal this. This takes us to how a goats breath should smell.

cute goats eating hay through fences at farm

What Should Goats’ Breath Smell Like?

A goat’s breath will usually smell like what it eats. So, you should expect a breath that smells like hay, flower, grass, grains, or whatever your goat eats.

When your goat’s breath smells really foul, and you cannot place the smell on something it usually eats, you should inspect further.

Do Goats Burp?

Goats do burp and they burp a lot.

Goats are ruminant animals, meaning they have 4 stomach compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.

The rumen is the largest stomach chamber in goats, making up about 70% of the whole stomach. It can hold about 3 – 6 gallons of food and water.

When goats eat, the food reaches the rumen first.

The food in the rumen is digested over time by microorganisms in the rumen. As this digestion process is taking place, the microorganisms produce gas.

The goats get the gas out of their rumen by burping. Since the rumen can contain up to 6 gallons of food, a lot of gas can be produced during digestion. You can expect goats to burp large amounts of gas frequently.

Besides burping to get the gas out, goats can also fart to expel gas.

brown goat mouth open


In some cases, your goat may be unable to expel this gas, and this can make them bloated. When your goat is bloated, the left side of its body will be visibly swollen.

Bloating in goats may be caused by an obstructed esophagus. If there’s an obstruction in the esophagus, your best bet is to call your veterinarian.

Apart from an obstruction, a quick change in diet or a diet with high levels of soluble fiber can cause bloating too. Such diets can alter the pH and microbial content of the rumen. Good microbes fall in number, and the bad ones increase.

The bad microbes digest the soluble-fiber feed and produce a kind of substance that fills the rumen and blocks the esophagus. This reaction to a diet switch is usually mild.

However, in cases where a goat eats such feed in large quantities, they may die quickly.

White pregnant goat at the farm and other goats on the background

Acetonemia in Goats

You may notice that your pregnant goat has sweet, fruity breath. This breath might be indicative of a disease called acetonemia, goat ketosis, or pregnancy toxemia.

Pregnancy toxemia occurs around the late gestation period. It is characterized by the inability of the goat to sustain an increased metabolic demand for glucose.

This increased demand is usually seen when the goat is carrying multiple fetuses. It may also occur when the goat is underweight or obese.

With the goat unable to meet the demand for glucose, the body switches to the fat reserves. As the body converts fat to energy, high levels of ketones accumulate in the blood.

These ketones are responsible for the sweet breath and other symptoms of acetonemia in goats. Some of these other symptoms include reduced milk production, loss of appetite, and tremors.

To treat acetonemia, increase the energy content of the goat’s diet. Feed it higher-quality roughages and more concentrates. If there is no improvement after upgrading the goat’s diet, you should contact your veterinarian.


You should pay attention to what your goat eats as this will make it easier for you to detect why its breath stinks. Once you can rule out food as the cause of bad breath, you should prepare for something more serious.