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Potential Goose Health Challenges

Unfortunately for the humans looking out for them, geese don’t tend to show any signs that they’re sick until it can’t be hid any longer, usually resulting in much more intensive treatment than an early diagnosis would have alleviated. If you want to ensure early disease recognition, you’ll have to spend a lot of time with the flock, so slight changes and symptoms are more apparent to you. By conducting regular full body health examinations, you’ll be able to know what healthy looks and feels (and smells!) like, and when you should be concerned.

Check out our guide to goose health examinations to familiarize yourself with the signs that something may be amiss in a goose.

Animal Healthcare Disclaimer

This is not an exhaustive list of everything that can happen to a goose, but can help you get a sense of what challenges a goose under your care may face in their lifetime. If you believe a goose is facing a health issue, always discuss with a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. Reading about health issues does not qualify you to diagnose your residents!

Medication Check

Certain medications and antibiotics (some that are even recommended for chickens and other birds) are toxic, or even lethal to geese. Make sure to double check any treatment with a veterinarian or veterinary manual before giving it to a goose!

Issues By Afflicted Area

Abdomen: Abdominal Fluid Buildup, Colibacillosis, Cystic Oviduct, Internal Laying, Keel Sores, Osteomyelitis, Ovarian Cancer, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Appetite/Drinking Changes: Aspergillosis, Avian Influenza, Coccidiosis, Colibacillosis, Crop Impaction/”Sour Crop”, Cryptosporidiosis, Duck Virus Enteritis, Derzy’s Disease, Fowl Pox, Hardware Disease, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Osteomyelitis, Ovarian Cancer, Respiratory Infections, Salmonellosis, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush, Worms

Beak: Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease

Breast: Osteomyelitis

Breathing/Mouth: Aspergillosis, Avian Influenza, Botulism, Colibacillosis, Crop Impaction/”Sour Crop”, Egg-Bound, Fowl Cholera, Fowl Pox, Heat Exhaustion, Infectious Bronchitis, Newcastle Disease, Respiratory Infections, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush, Worms

Crop: Crop Impaction/”Sour Crop”, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Droppings: Coccidiosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Duck Virus Enteritis, Derzy’s Disease, Erysipelas, Fowl Cholera, Gout, Hardware Disease, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush, Worms

Egg-Laying Changes Or Issues: Coccidiosis, Colibacillosis, Duck Virus Enteritis, Egg-Bound, Egg-Peritonitis, Fowl Pox, Flukes, Infectious Bronchitis, Internal Laying, Newcastle Disease, Ovarian Cancer, Prolapse, Soft-Shelled Eggs, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush, Worms

Energy/Movement: Arthritis, Aspergillosis, Avian Influenza, Botulism, Bumblefoot, Coccidiosis, Colibacillosis, Crop Impaction/”Sour Crop”, Cryptosporidiosis, Duck Virus Enteritis, Derzy’s Disease, Egg-Bound, Egg-Peritonitis, Erysipelas, Fowl Cholera, Fowl Pox, Gout, Hardware Disease, Heat ExhaustionKeel Sores, Lameness, Molting, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Osteomyelitis, Respiratory Infections, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection, Salmonellosis, Spraddle Leg, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush, Wry Neck

Eyes:  Duck Virus Enteritis, Derzy’s Disease, Eye Infection, Infectious Bronchitis, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Newcastle Disease, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection

Feathers: Feather Pecking And Other Bullying, Lice, Molting, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites,  Wet Feather

Feet And Toes: Arthritis, Bumblefoot, Gout, Lameness,  Osteomyelitis, Scald, Wry Neck,

Head/Neck, Avian Influenza, Colibacillosis, Duck Virus Enteritis, Fowl Cholera, Heat Exhaustion, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Newcastle Disease, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Respiratory Infections, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection, Worms, Wry Neck

Legs: Arthritis, Goose Virus Hepatitis, Lameness, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Scald, Spraddle Leg, Wry Neck

Preen Gland: Lice, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Wet Feather

Skin: Keel Sores, Lice, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Social Changes: Avian Influenza, Duck Virus Enteritis, Feather Pecking And Other BullyingKeel Sores, Molting, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Tail: Aspergillosis, Lice, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Vent: Egg-Bound, Lice, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Prolapse, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Weight: Aspergillosis, Gout, Hardware Disease, Mycoplasma/Air Sac Disease, Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection, Vent Gleet/Cloacitis/Thrush

Wings: Angel Wing, Duck Virus Enteritis, Hardware Disease, Lice, Molting, Northern Fowl Mites, Red Mites, Wet Feather

Abdominal Fluid Buildup

Abdominal fluids might build up a goose’s abdomen for many reasons, including cancer, egg yolk peritonitis, tumors, liver disease, and heart problems. If you notice a buildup, get the goose evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They can demonstrate how to drain the excess fluid and maintain the goose’s comfort while providing appropriate care and treatment.

Angel Wing

Also known as “Slipped Wing”, Angel Wing is typically caused by an excess of calories or protein in a young gosling’s diet (but can also possibly just be a genetic predisposition), Angel Wing manifests as the goose’s wing joint is twisted so their wing doesn’t lie flat against their body. This problem can lead to lifelong disfiguration and contribute to early death. High protein food and junk food like bread are both large contributors to Angel Wing. A veterinarian must examine the bird and determine if the condition can be fixed by keeping the wing wrapped to their body.  Never attempt to do this without working with a vet, as improper wrapping can have serious health consequences.  Back To Top

Arthritis

Many geese, especially those bred for their flesh, are prone to developing arthritis during the course of their lives. This can present itself far more early than one might expect of the ailment. You can help manage pain and inflammation using avian-safe NSAIDs or anecdotally, CBD oil, if legal in your area. Giving this goose a large swimming area is also an effective way to keep them off their ailing legs and feet. Talk to your veterinarian about a care strategy for arthritis, as it may be different for each individual goose. Back To Top

Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis (also known as Aflatoxin poisoning) is caused by a fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus which is endemic in our environment. Aspergillus spores form on moldy grains, straw, and wood shavings. Moldy seeds are a large vector of disease. More serious forms of the fungus can be found when grain is harvested wet (such as in the cold season); these forms are highly lethal in small amounts. Aspergillosis is typically an additional disease to a separate infection. A bird fighting an infection is vulnerable to additional ones. If a bird suffers from a long-term ailment, be aware of aspergillosis. It affects respiratory systems and tends to accumulate in the air sacs. Once infected, the fungus forms sticky and dense plaques, which are hard to remove. Telltale signs of aspergillosis include voice tone changes, voice loss, lethargy, decreased appetite, isolation, labored breathing, and later, tail bobbing. Don’t avoid any of these signals! The infection is fatal in goslings and dire in adults. Antifungal drug treatment can be intense and lengthy, with even successful treatment potentially taking up to six months. Clean housing and ventilation keeps Aspergillosis at bay, as well as the use of avian-safe fungicide spray after deep habitat cleans. Avoid wet housing conditions, and don’t allow a bird habitat to get too warm and humid in the winter as Aspergillus spores can grow and be released from straw.  If a barn has to be warm for some reason, substitute straw with wood shavings and ensure that their habitat does not get too dusty, moist, or moldy. Aspergillus has also been known to impact humans, particularly the very young, old, or those in intense healthcare treatment regimens. In extreme cases, birds may need to be permanently separated from others to prevent disease spreading to the rest of the flock. Back To Top

Avian Influenza (Or, “Bird Flu”)

Humans are most likely not going to get the bird flu because humans and birds have different receptors so cross-species mutations are incredibly rare. It can still be a very serious disease for geese, though. Most strains are relatively benign (and always around us in the air), but a few are particularly dangerous. Some strains won’t present any symptoms in infected geese. The strain that humans tend to worry about is H1N1, from Asia. If a goose has H1N1, you or your veterinarian are required to report it to your local governing body. Symptoms include trouble breathing, swollen neck or head, uncoordinated motion, and restricted eating combined with excessive drinking. If many birds die without explanation, there might be an influenza outbreak. Passing wild birds tend to be the biggest vectors of the disease, attracted to food and water. Keeping these sources out of easy access can help prevent attracting them (without preventing ventilation of feeding areas). Recovery and treatment of bird flu depends on the strain, so an expert opinion is necessary to evaluate the situation. Make sure to quarantine an afflicted bird to prevent it from spreading to the flock! Back To Top

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis in geese presents itself as sneezing, coughing, and snoring. Later symptoms include secretions draining out of their nose and eyes and a cease in laying. Like the name suggests, Infectious Bronchitis is a very infectious viral disease that spreads through the air, so you need to very quickly quarantine the infected goose to prevent further illness in the flock. Give them a warm, dry place to heal. There is a vaccine available for Infectious Bronchitis. Back To Top

Botulism

Botulism is typically spread when a goose eats food or water near infected dead meat or otherwise infected with the disease. It can also be contracted by a goose spending time in a stagnant, botulism-infected pond. Symptoms include progressive tremors. The longer they go untreated, the tremors will eventually become full body paralysis, eventually preventing them from breathing. Their feathers might fall out very easily as well. It is a rapid and deadly disease and requires immediate treatment. You can treat it successfully with an antitoxin prescribed by your veterinarian. If a goose in your care dies from this disease, you must seal in all of the waterfowl in your care until you determine where the disease came from and remove the source. Back To Top

Bumblefoot

A discolored area, a small lesion, or a scab on a goose’s foot could be the first sign of Bumblefoot. If it falls off, you might find thick yellow pus, bloody pus, serum-like pus, or whitish discharge. It can be caused by a variety of factors including foot problems, obesity, injury, extra foot pressure, lack of access to swimming, poor circulation, hard flooring, too much moisture in the habitat, bad sanitation, and poor nutrition. Symptoms of bumblefoot include changes in gait and trouble walking. Any time you find irritation, heat, or swelling on a bird’s foot, you need to be as proactive as possible in diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of bumblefoot include changes in gait and trouble walking. Your veterinarian should sample the affected area and perform a sensitivity test in order to determine the right treatment. You must have an expert show you how to properly manage the infection and wrap a bird’s foot, as improper technique can cause severe health problems and damage webbing. They will likely need to keep their feet dry if wrapped. Treatment will vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. Untreated Bumblefoot can lead to keel sores, osteomyelitis, and sepsis which can be fatal. Back To Top

Coccidiosis

Geese rescued out of commercial goose farming might be Coccidia carriers without being symptomatic, which can cause problems to their new flock or if they are struck with another disease. Signs to look out for include bloody droppings, thin and low appetite birds, sluggishness and fewer eggs laid, or sudden deaths in the flock. Intestinal coccidiosis can be caught through dirty and wet bedding and contaminated clothing, shoes, and equipment. Good hygiene can prevent infection. Regular fecal testing can detect the disease. If detected, you can apply a deworming treatment of your veterinarian’s recommendation. Wormers can be purchased at farm supply stores in simple formulas that are added to a goose’s water, but you must first ensure that the treatment is waterfowl-safe! Coccidia is not easy to eliminate, so you may need frequent treatments to get rid of it. A second type of coccidiosis, Renal coccidiosis, affects geese who are between 3 and 12 weeks old. If not caught quickly, up to 80% of afflicted birds die from the disease. Renal coccidiosis symptoms include weakness, diarrhea, depression, reluctance to eat, drooping wings, depression, dull eyes, and pale faces.  Back To Top

Colibacillosis

Also known as a Yolk Infection or Yolk Sacculitis, this is a common goose infection caused by e.coli bacteria, sometimes following a respiratory infection such as Infectious Bronchitis. It can cause infections in a goose’s yolk sac, bacterial infection of the bloodstream, and reproductive ailments like peritonitis in laying geese. Other symptoms include coughing, sneezing, poor growth, lack of appetite, and a swollen abdomen. There are different treatments available from your veterinarian depending on the infection and where it is located. It can be controlled by proper sanitation and additives to the goose’s food. Back To Top

Crop Impaction And Stasis (Or, “Sour Crop”)

There are a number of problems that can affect a crop. Crop stasis refers the crop becoming swollen and ceasing to properly function. Typically, the crop needs to be emptied and monitored to see if it returns to normal function. It’s important to treat crop stasis immediately because a swollen crop can lead to crop fluids aspirating into their lungs, especially if overly handled. There are many reasons for crop problems including eating too much food, intestinal blockage, bacterial and yeast infections, and cancer. A veterinarian diagnosis is crucial. Regardless of what has caused their crop impaction, they need to have the contents of their crop cleared or passed through quickly to prevent serious or permanent damage to their bodies.

Another crop issue is called ‘sour crop’ because of the smell of the liquid built up in it; an affected goose’s breath will smell something like bad dairy products. Sour crop can be either a secondary issue to crop impaction or its own issue, such as due to a yeast infection. Sour crop can also be caused by longterm antibiotic use, and prevented with a probiotic regimen. If intubation is recommended to remove the liquid or administer medication, you must be trained by an expert before attempting this technique as it could potentially kill the bird.

A crop stasis sufferer is also likely suffering from another problem as it is not typically a primary disease. Their crop will swell larger as they eat, becoming hot, red and heavy, and causing starvation. It might eventually prevent the goose from standing.

While you watch geese dine, ensure that they are actually eating food, not just pecking around. You should learn what a goose’s crop feels like when full and emptied so you can evaluate potential problems.

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Cryptosporidiosis

Caused by a protozoan parasite, this is an infection of the lungs and intestine in geese. Symptoms include depression, sneezing, general respiratory problems, or digestive issues, diarrhea, and a high chance of death in young geese. There is no known treatment or prevention strategy, other than thoroughly cleaning the habitats of infected geese. Once a goose recovers from Cryptosporidiosis, they tend to be immune. Back To Top

Cystic Oviduct

Cysts are ballooned sacs filled with clear watery fluid, ranging in size from a grain of rice up to a grapefruit. A large cyst can contain a pint of fluid. This can compress a goose’s vital organs and damage them. An expert can usually drain the cysts safely without surgery. Back To Top

Derzy’s Disease

Also known as Goose Hepatitis, Goose Plague, Goose Enteritis, and Goose Influenza, Derzy’s disease is a highly contagious infection that primarily affects young geese. It can be spread between geese and muscovy ducks, and has an extremely high fatality rate in its acute form. It is most dangerous in geese who are under a week old and relatively benign in those older than five weeks. Symptoms in older birds include lack of appetite, weakness, a reluctance to move around, nasal discharge, leaky eyes, swollen glands and eyelids, and white diarrhea. There is no known treatment other than treating the symptoms, but there is a vaccine available. Back To Top

Duck Virus Enteritis

This is a fatal herpes viral infection that is very contagious. Recovered birds are still capable of transmitting the disease for up to a year after initial infection (though they become immune themselves to it), and it can survive in the environment. Symptoms include a drop in egg-laying, aversion to light, nasal discharge, drooped wings, lethargy, ruffled feathers loss of body control, squinting or closed eyes, insatiable dehydration, greenish-yellow or bloodstained diarrhea, tremors, and penile prolapse in male geese. Afflicted geese should be immediately separated from other geese. Unfortunately there isn’t an established treatment other than managing the symptoms, but there is a vaccine available. Back To Top

Goose Virus Hepatitis

A contagious gosling disease that is most risky under a month of age, Goose Virus hepatitis has a rapid onset and can quickly move through a flock. Symptoms include rapid leg contractions and possibly death within an hour. In death, the gosling’s back will look arched backwards and they will have an enlarged liver. If you suspect goose Virus hepatitis, take the afflicted goose immediately to a veterinarian for treatment. The best prevention is by keeping younger goslings separated from older geese if possible until they’re over a month old. Back To Top

Egg-Bound

An Egg-Bound goose has an egg trapped somewhere in her reproductive tract. This can happen due to low calcium levels, low blood calcium levels (also known as hypocalcemia), low Vitamin D, malnutrition, or an exclusively seed-only food or low-protein food diet. Laying geese also can become egg-bound due to producing very large eggs that they can’t push out, or soft-shelled or malformed eggs that get stuck. Vent Gleet and cloaca infections can cause scar tissue at the vent, preventing eggs from being laid, resulting in egg binding. This might be an emergency depending on where the egg is trapped in the reproductive tract. Typical signs of egg-binding include obvious straining, open-mouthed breathing (from the pain and stress of pushing), and a lack of appetite. Egg-binding can lead to cloaca prolapse, a possibly fatal condition. If you suspect a goose may be egg-bound, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Back To Top

Egg Peritonitis

Egg Peritonitis (Or Egg Yolk Peritonitis) occurs when an egg bursts inside of a goose’s body. Bacteria quickly grow in the resultant environment. This is an unfortunately common disease in laying geese and typically does not end well if left untreated. Any goose with low calcium or vitamins or who has difficulty laying can be affected by Egg Peritonitis. On a veterinarian’s recommendation, Egg Yolk Peritonitis can be treated with antibiotics, Metacam, and implantation to give the goose time to heal. Back To Top

Erysipelas

A sudden infection caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. Infected geese exhibit depression, diarrhea, and sudden death. It can be treated with penicillin on a veterinarian’s recommendation, and there is a vaccine available. This disease can spread to other animals, including humans. Back To Top

Eye Infection

Also known as “Sticky Eye”, a goose can get an eye infection from getting debris caught in their eyes or getting scratched by a fellow flockmate. Symptoms include a closed or blinking eye, bubbles in the eye, redness, or excessive tearing. A veterinarian should evaluate any eye injuries immediately, as the reason and severity of the injury will dictate treatment. Back To Top

Feather Pecking And Other Bullying

Feather pecking and other bullying can result from housing problems, disease, or simply being at the bottom of the pecking order. If you provide enough food, daytime space, and sleeping areas, the geese will be less inclined to compete out of scarcity and less likely to turn to bullying. Geese also risk feather pecking if injured. Make sure geese have plenty of space and entertainment as well, and check their health frequently to avoid bullying or more dangerous risks. Back To Top

Flukes

A type of flat parasite, flukes most affect geese who have access to natural lakes or ponds (due to cross infection from a kind of aquatic snail and dragonflies). Flukes can infect any cavity in a goose, including their oviduct, which can lead to infected eggs. The best solution for flukes is to remove the geese from the infection source. Back To Top

Fowl Cholera

Fowl Cholera is a bacterial disease whose signs include green or yellow diarrhea, joint pain, mouth and nasal discharge, breathing struggles, and a darkened, swollen head. It can be contracted from wild animals or contaminated food or water. There is a vaccine for it, but unfortunately, it has no known treatment once infection strikes and a surviving goose will always be a carrier of the disease. Back To Top

Fowl Pox

Occurring in both wet and dry form, Fowl Pox is a slow-spreading disease that affects most birds. Wet Fowl Pox looks like plaques in the mouth and the bird’s upper respiratory tract. Dry Fowl Pox looks like wart-like skin lesions that turn into to thick scabs, which spread the disease. It can happen to any bird at any time, and due to a variety of ways that it spreads (including from rodents, mosquitos, and mite bites), it can rapidly affect everyone. Unfortunately, Dry Fowl Pox is easily mistaken for trauma from fighting and enters a flock undetected as a result. Depending on the strain, Fowl Pox can cause depression, reduced or no appetite, inability to eat, poor growth, and a reduction in egg production. The dry form can blind birds with its scabs. It isn’t always fatal, but it can be more serious and indeed deadly to older and weaker birds. You can vaccinate against fowl pox, but this carries a great risk as the vaccine can kill weaker or sick birds. Back To Top

Gout

Caused by an excess of Uric acid in the blood as a result of too much dietary protein, an imbalance of phosphorous, or dehydration, Gout eventually causes deadly catastrophic damage in many parts of a goose’s body, including their kidneys, air sacs, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Symptoms include enlarged and painful joints, a goose constantly shifting their weight from foot to foot, a shuffling walk, possible decrease in appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and abnormal droppings. Treatment includes putting a bird on a low protein diet, proper hydration, Vitamin A, and pain management. Once manifested, gout must be treated for life as it can quickly come back. Talk to a veterinarian about your best treatment options for afflicted geese prior to changing their nutrition or supplementation.  Back To Top

Hardware Disease

This refers to a type of poisoning when a goose eats something they shouldn’t, such as screws, bolts, wire, staples, metal, or coins. Symptoms may include lethargy, diarrhea, lower appetite and weight loss, seizures, vomiting, drooping wings, difficulty walking, and dehydration. If you suspect that a goose ate something they shouldn’t have, get them to a veterinarian immediately. Back To Top

Heat Exhaustion

When it’s hot out, be sure to monitor geese closely for symptoms of heat exhaustion. Ensure that their habitat is properly ventilated and cooled. Heat exhaustion looks like excessive panting, drooping, a dark-colored head, and collapse. The moment you suspect heat exhaustion, take the goose inside immediately, fan them, and mist them lightly with cool water. If the condition doesn’t improve, contact your veterinarian. Make sure to keep the goose quiet and calm and don’t handle them more than necessary as they recover. Back To Top

Internal Laying

Internal laying refers to the accumulation of eggs in a goose’s abdominal cavity. This happens when eggs change direction and are discharged internally instead of exiting out of the oviduct and being laid. This could be caused by a number of conditions, such as inflammation, infection, or cancer. Typically, internal yolk should be reabsorbed by a healthy hen, but shell membranes or hardened egg masses can quickly cause secondary problems, and repeated internal laying quickly compounds health risks. In severe cases, surgery may be required to save the bird’s life, though this intervention may be more damaging to their quality of life than the internal laying itself. You can help a bird recovering from internal laying with implantation. Back To Top

Keel Sores

If geese are frequently laying down because of arthritis or foot infections, they may start to develop a potentially painful pressure sore on the keel bone under their breast. It is also possible for sores to develop from other injuries, but much less likely. If you notice a keel sore, the goose will need immediate treatment, most likely including an antibiotic, bandaging, and a pain reliever if necessary. You should also ensure that the goose has access to thicker bedding or padding in order to help them recover. Talk to your veterinarian if you are concerned about a potential keel sore and the exact treatment regimen. If left untreated, an infection could spread to their bone, which could be fatal. Back To Top

Lameness

Because domestic geese cannot fly with the same aptitude as their wild relatives, their feet are especially prone to extra injury. If a goose’s foot is swollen or tender, they might limp or choose not to move at all. Make sure to check the goose’s foot without grabbing them by the leg, as they are extremely delicate. If the injury isn’t apparent, it may be a foot infection or nerve injury and require veterinary care. Back To Top

Lice

Lice eat dead feathers and skin debris, but they still can irritate geese since they live in the base of the feather (the follicle). They’re easy to treat but require constant vigilance to ensure that the goose isn’t infected. The vent tends to be the most common infection site. Lice-infested birds might have reddened skin near their vent. There might also be white sugar-looking particles around the feathers. Lice also looks like tiny, moving yellow or clear specks on a goose’s skin. You may even see the lice, which will require waterfowl-safe lice powder or cold ash from a wood fire. Clean swimming water access helps prevent lice. If infected, lice powders are available at farm supply stores. Waterfowl-safe flea spray or diatomaceous earth powder (also known as DE, available at garden stores) also works. If significantly infected, birds may require multiple treatments, and their habitat may require treatment as well. Geese are much less likely to get lice than chickens since they should have regular access to clean swimming water and their feathers are more densely packed. Back To Top

Molting

Geese molt annually, usually in mid-summer. It takes a lot of energy and can be exhausting. When molting, birds may lose a large number of their feathers, for between six and eight weeks. Molting birds might seem distressed or sick. If they molt simultaneously during a stressful event, like rehoming or new flockmates, a goose may be have an elevated disease risk because molting lowers their immunity. The best treatment when molting is to ensure good food, vitamins, and minerals are available, and keep the bird stress-free! Back To Top

Mycoplasma 

Mycoplasma is a typical highly infectious disease that can cause severe respiratory problems in geese. The disease requires weeks of antibiotics, but Mycoplasma is very difficult to completely eliminate and might resurface later. For this reason, if you suspect Mycoplasma, immediately get a veterinary opinion. Common signs include clear discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing, puffy eyes, and a swollen head due to full sinuses. Geese may also become lethargic, lack appetite, and seem depressed. If the bird has many symptoms, it means the disease has progressed to a dangerous infection. If caught early, antibiotics are effective, but they may need to be provided for the whole flock; all of the birds have likely been exposed to the pathogen. A bird can be infected while still in their egg, and it can also be spread in the air.  It’s crucial to finish the antibiotic treatment even if the bird appears to have made a full recovery because Mycoplasma hides effectively and can resurface quickly. Back To Top

Newcastle Disease

This disease presents itself as a respiratory infection. You might see breathing challenges, nasal discharge, and murky eyes, as well as decreased egg-laying. A goose’s legs and wings might become paralyzed and their neck may begin to twist. It can be contracted by wild birds, but infection can be spread to other birds by touch or on clothing. Older birds tend to recover, while younger ones unfortunately tend not to survive. A vaccine is available for the disease. Back To Top

Northern Fowl Mites

Northern Fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) are tiny black bugs (about the size of pepper) which can cause facial scaling. Infection signs include discomfort, anemia, and scabby skin. A bird’s feathers can also be affected at the base and may look like they’ve been chewed on, and they might leave dirty, greasy patches. They might be found on the backs of a goose’s legs under their feathers, near their tailbone, or on their neck. Untreated, anemia from these mites can be fatal. Unlike red mites, Northern Fowl mites are are uncommon, but incredibly difficult to eliminate. The goose’s habitat will need to be treated alongside the geese, but because they can exist in the environment for weeks without any food source the residents should be treated and moved elsewhere. Ideally, the habitat should be treated and then left empty for at least 6 weeks, and you should ensure birds are no longer infected before returning them to the newly cleaned habitat.  Geese are less likely to be affected by mites than chickens because they have more densely packed feathers. Access to swimming areas also helps deter mite infestations. Be extremely cautious using spray pesticide such as Frontline around birds as it can cause death if they absorb too much. Back To Top

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. This most commonly appears on the keel because only a thin layer of skin covers this bone. If a bird is weak due to another illness or has can’t easily raise themself off the ground, their keel is always abrasively touching the floor. This can damage their skin until sores develop, where infection can enter and spread to the bone. The skin might heal again over the keel, trapping the infection inside and making it difficult to diagnose. The goose will likely develop a fever, leading to lethargy, lowered appetite, and decreased water consumption. You might find visible sores or scars over the keel area, or possibly on their feet if it’s a secondary infection to Scald. It can also be contracted without any external damage. Bone infections are painful and can be hard to treat, with better outcomes resulting with early detection and treatment. Back To Top

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most common source of unknown goose tumors. It’s associated with old age, which has meant that many veterinarians aren’t familiar with it. It often presents as accumulated abdominal fluid. As it spreads, intestines become constricted resulting in emaciation. Birds that are kept for their eggs are particularly susceptible. There is no apparent treatment, though there are drugs that your veterinarian can recommend such as Tamoxifen that can manage the disease for a time. To make afflicted geese more comfortable, have an expert drain the fluids in their abdomens when necessary. Egg-laying geese with ovarian cancer can be given some time to heal without extra taxation on their body with implants.  Back To Top

Prolapse

In birds, eggs and droppings come out in the same place, but never at the same time. In order to lay an egg without fecal contamination, birds safely invert their oviduct to block out waste until they’ve laid their egg. If a bird has a calcium or vitamin deficiency, a muscle weakness, too much weight, eggs that are too large, soft-shelled eggs, an internal mass, or no time to recover from egg-laying, their oviduct may come out of their body, known as prolapse. It looks like a pink or red structure visible at their vent. This should always be treated as a serious health issue. If the bird strains too hard, they could disembowel themselves, and other birds may peck at it and cause serious injury. An expert can reinsert a less-severe prolapse with a sterile glove, but a more major prolapse may require surgery. If there is an egg in the prolapse, you should drain the egg using a needle before attempting to remove the shell. If the prolapsed oviduct is contaminated by droppings, damaged, doesn’t go back in, or if it grows bigger, you must take the bird to a veterinarian and they might require surgery. In cases like this with larger birds, do not lift the prolapsing bird, put the carrier around them and then carefully lift them out. Someone needs to keep the prolapse in place and keep the bird calm en-route to the medical center. In other cases, the prolapse might heal itself. Prolapse is very often a secondary issue, so even a self-healed prolapse sufferer should be taken into the veterinarian to determine why they prolapsed. Due to the nature of prolapses, it’s almost certain that recovering birds will require anti-inflammatory and antibiotic treatments. Ideally, a bird suffering from prolapse should be given a Suprelorin implant to give them time to heal. Male geese sometimes suffer from a prolapsed penis. This can be treated through antibiotics and surgery if necessary.  Back To Top

Red Mites

Red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are the most common mite and difficult to eliminate from habitats. They are nocturnal bloodsuckers who can cause anemia and death. They can also cause stress due to their irritating presence. Both geese and their entire homes need treatment for red mites. They tend to hide under furniture in the daytime. In addition to waterfowl-safe dusting powders, it’s important to use a blowtorch around corners and nooks to eliminate red mite larvae. Red mites will infest anywhere that geese are kept for any amount of time. The goose’s habitat will need to be treated alongside the geese, but because they can exist in the environment for weeks without any food source the residents should be treated and moved elsewhere. Ideally, the habitat should be treated and then left empty for at least 6 weeks, and you should ensure birds are no longer infected before returning them to the newly cleaned habitat.  Geese are less likely to be affected by mites than chickens because they have more densely packed feathers. Access to swimming areas can also help deter mites infestations.   Be extremely cautious using spray pesticide such as Frontline around birds as it can cause death if they absorb too much. Back To Top

Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection

Also known as “infectious serositis”, this is a bacterial infection that can be either inhaled or enter through foot cuts. It can cause a variety of serious issues, from joint lameness, to meningitis and brain infections. It also causes blood poisoning and respiratory issues. Symptoms include sneezing, thick, gluey nasal discharge, coughing, weight loss, listlessness, eye discharge, a twisted neck, inexplicable trembling of their head and neck, loss of body control, and green diarrhea. It can also damage an oviduct, which can lead to dangerous internal laying conditions that may require implantation to treat. In severe cases, you may find the goose on their back, paddling their legs in the air. If you suspect an RA infection, contact a veterinarian as the extent of infection will influence which treatments are used. A vaccination is available for this disease. Back To Top

Salmonellosis

Also known as Paratyphoid, the bacteria Salmonella is in most bird intestines. Usually this is not problematic to geese, but it can infect humans if they eat food with contaminated hands. To avoid salmonellosis, ensure good hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water after touching geese, their eggs or their bedding. If the geese suffer from salmonellosis, they can be successfully treated with antibiotics recommended by your veterinarian, but it can take months before they are free of the infection. Goslings younger than six weeks old are most susceptible to the disease, exhibiting symptoms of standing in one spot, lowering their heads, closing their eyes, drooping wings, anorexia, increased thirst, watery poop, huddling near heat sources, and ruffled feathers. Back To Top

Spraddle Leg

Spraddle Leg can be caused by an issue during incubation or hatching, or by housing geese on a slippery floor. If a gosling cannot get proper traction on the floor, their legs will slide to one side, preventing them from developing their leg muscles. Because goslings like to bathe and play in water and their waste is mostly composed of water, they can make quite a mess that can result in slippery surfaces if this isn’t planned for in advance. Rubber drawer or cabinet mats can help ensure goslings have enough traction. Back To Top

Respiratory Infections

Geese usually display respiratory infections with nasal discharge, lethargy or low energy, and a loss of appetite. There are different courses of treatment depending on the infection, so it’s important to contact your veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis. Back To Top

Scald

Scald is the name of the condition when a goose’s leg or foot skin turns a reddish raw color and becomes painful. This is entirely a housing sanitation problem. Wet bedding and flooring causes ammonia in their droppings to burn through their skin. Scald is very painful and requires treatment, but it’s easily prevented by cleaning habitats regularly and providing plenty of space. Good ventilation is also very important as ammonia off gases toxic vapors that injure lungs! Back To Top

Soft-Shelled Eggs

Egg-laying geese need a balanced nutritional diet to lay eggs without damaging their health. Poor nutrition can cause soft-shelled and malformed eggs, which can cause cloaca prolapse and egg-binding. Egg production demands a lot of calcium, and egg-laying geese can be deficient in calcium. The eggshell is developed last, and consists mostly of calcium carbonate, absorbed through diet and taken from their bones, so appropriate amounts of calcium are essential to a goose’s health, especially if they produce many eggs. If you feed a goose’s eggs and shells back to them, they can replenish some of the lost calcium. Be aware that soft-shelled eggs could also be a symptom of an oviduct issue. Back To Top

Vent Gleet (Or, Cloacitis Or Thrush)

Vent gleet is a fungal infection (of the Candida Albicans strain) in a goose’s digestive and reproductive systems. The vent tends to demonstrate first signs of infection. A goose’s vent might have a whitish discharge that may smell like fermenting yeast, their vent and back feathers can be missing and coated with poop and yeast discharge or general crustiness. Vent Gleet can also be responsible for sour crop, loose stool, decreased egg-laying, depression, fluctuations in appetite, weight loss, white patches or lesions in the goose’s mouth, and a bloated abdomen. Their skin near their vent can be red and irritated. It is not typically contagious to other flockmates. The infection usually comes from eating moldy or spoiled food (especially corn), contaminated water, generally unsanitary conditions, sour crop, gut flora imbalance (especially after taking oral antibiotics), and mating with an infected goose. Treatment includes bathing the goose, a Nystatin prescription, Antifungal cream, garlic (one clove per gallon of water supply). While treating, avoid feeding too much watery food such as watermelon. You can prevent by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with its mother each gallon of drinking water (only plastic water containers as metal can corrode). Talk to a veterinarian or expert before modifying a goose’s nutrition or supplementation. Keep a clean environment and avoid moldy food. Antibiotics are not effective. Back To Top

Wet Feather

Wet Feather is a condition where a goose’s preen gland stops working. It is caused when geese do not get regular swimming water access, are in poor health, or are stuck in unsanitary living conditions. As the preen gland keeps goose feathers oiled and waterproofed, this means that they cannot remain dry in rain or water, which increases the risk of drowning or hypothermia. Afflicted geese can be given a bath in a detergent such as Dawn, followed by a generous rinse and a blow-dry. Give the goose a smaller tub of water to splash in for a few days before seeing if their waterproofing is restoring or not. Very bad cases of wet feather might not be cured until the goose molts and gets new feathers. Back To Top

Wry Neck

Typically a gosling-only condition, Wry Neck can be fatal if untreated. An afflicted goose won’t be able to hold their head up and often cannot properly walk. Wry Neck can be a result of trauma, toxins, or a vitamin deficiency. Supplementing the goose’s food with vitamin B1, vitamin E, and selenium with a veterinarian’s approval can help reverse the affliction. Natural supplementation sources for these nutrients include tumeric, brewer’s yeast, bran, parsley, marjoram, sage, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, thyme, cinnamon, spinach, dandelion greens, and alfalfa. Back To Top

Worms

There are a variety of both roundworms and tapeworms that impact geese, residing in the intestines, stomach, and windpipe (Gapeworms). In a windpipe infection, the bird might also suffer from respiratory illness or a change in appetite in either direction.If they have a heavy Gapeworm infection, they must be treated very mindfully because if many worms die in their trachea, it can stop their breathing. Wild waterfowl can spread worms to domestic waterfowl, so if there are wild visitors to your sanctuary’s geese, ensure that you are performing regular fecal examinations. Windpipe infections are especially serious. Gizzard worms can quickly spread throughout a flock and must be immediately treated. Infected geese lose weight over time and may become anemic if it’s a large enough infection. A highly infected goose may stay off their legs often, cough without explanation, shake their head, or have blood in their stool. Worms also cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies in geese. This may impact their egg-laying ability and the thickness of their eggshells. Brittle shells can lead to egg peritonitis, which can be deadly. Your veterinarian will be able to give the best treatment advice for your flock depending on the exact infection. You should be aware that some deworming water treatments are fatal to waterfowl. You should schedule regular fecal examinations for all of the birds in your care (every 3 to 6 months) to ensure that they are not infected. Treatments depend on the type of worm. Deworm geese at least twice a year or on your veterinarian’s recommended timeline to help avoid these problems. Back To Top

SOURCES:

Duck And Goose Care | Farm Sanctuary

Common Chicken Problems & Diseases | Darwin Vets

Gout | Duck DVM

Waterfowl Diagnostic Chart | Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary (Non-Compassionate Source)

Goose Diseases | Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Non-Compassionate Source)

Waterfowl Diseases | The Chicken Vet (Non-Compassionate Source)

Colibacillosis | Wildpro (Non-Compassionate Source)

How To Fix Angel Wing | Backyard Chickens (Non-Compassionate Source)

Non-Compassionate Source?

If a source includes the (Non-Compassionate Source) tag, it means that we do not endorse that particular source’s views about animals, even if some of their insights are valuable from a care perspective. See a more detailed explanation here.

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Updated on September 24, 2019

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