Success Story: Feta the Pygmy Goat

Feta and Colby at home

Feta and Colby, two twin pygmy goats, live happily at Lisa and Al Merritt’s hobby farm in Floral City, Fla.

Last August, however, Feta began having trouble urinating. One of Feta’s primary care veterinarians, Dr. Davenport, initially suspected a bladder infection, and prescribed antibiotics. When Feta continued to have trouble urinating, Merritt called, Dr. Sonday, another primary care veterinarian, who then came out to the farm to perform an ultrasound.

Dr. Sonday found a mass in the abdomen and recommended that Feta be taken to the UF Large Animal Hospital in Gainesville to confirm the location and and size of the mass, and determine if it could be removed.

Merritt did not hesitate.

“We are fortunate to live close enough to be able to take Feta to Gainesville,” Merritt said. “She was only eight years old and is a wonderful companion. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable and happy.”

Upon arrival at UF, Feta was admitted to the hospital’s large animal medicine service and examined by Drs. Sarah Reuss and Amy Stieler.

“Her vitals were normal, but when she urinated, we noticed her straining and urinating only small amounts at a time,” Dr. Stieler said. “We also noticed an uneven enlargement of the left udder that caused Feta discomfort when walking. We performed an ultrasound to get a closer look at the abdominal mass that Dr. Sonday had found earlier.”

Feta at UF

The ultrasound confirmed the presence of a mass, but revealed that the mass was actually the uterus itself. Being conscious of the possibility of cancer, the veterinarians recommended a hysterectomy and mastectomy of the enlarged udder.

“Goats are known to get uterine masses, and even though we weren’t sure that the mass was cancerous, we didn’t want to take any chances,” Dr. Reuss said. “The hysterectomy was necessary to try to remove any cancer. We also recommended a mastectomy in case the cancer had spread to the udder, but also just to make Feta more comfortable because the udder was so enlarged.”

In surgery, the veterinary surgeons found that the uterine mass was attached to portions of the urinary tract and required careful dissection. Additionally, Feta received an intra-operative blood transfusion.

The procedure was comprehensive, but Feta handled the procedure well, veterinarians said. Afterward, the mass was sent to the UF Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories for analysis. Test results confirmed that the mass was cancerous.

When the surgery was over, Feta was given antimicrobial drugs, anti-inflammatories, analgesics and IV fluids as part of her recovery process. However, the morning after surgery, Feta was unable to urinate and free abdominal fluid was seen on an ultrasound, suggesting urine leakage.

“We suspected that the abdominal fluid was from the bladder, so we placed a urinary catheter to help her urinate,” Dr. Reuss said. “Feta had a great appetite and her vitals remained normal, but she had trouble urinating without the catheter because the bladder was thin and fragile where the tumor had been adhered, causing leaking. So we kept the catheter in for two weeks, and by keeping the bladder empty, it was able to heal. Feta eventually was able to urinate without problems.”

Feta and Lisa at home

Two weeks later, Feta went home. Merritt, along with the staff and UF’s large animal veterinarians were all grateful to have given Feta a second chance.  Since her hospital discharge, Feta has returned to being a happy goat who enjoys playing with Colby. She has had no problems urinating and seems much more comfortable without her enlarged udder, her owner reports.

“I couldn’t be happier with Feta’s outcome,” Merritt said. “I’m glad that they were able to provide the diagnosis and surgical procedures needed to get Feta healthy and home again.”

View all UF Large Animal Hospital Success Stories.

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