As a goose ages, it’s inevitable that more health issues will crop up during their care, so it’s especially important to be vigilant in monitoring their health through regular examinations and weigh-ins to effectively treat issues early on. Even common ailments like parasites are harder to control in older birds and require early and effective treatment to maintain their quality of life. Issues with their reproductive system will also likely become much more common and dangerous, such as internal laying, egg-binding, egg peritonitis, and prolapse, so keep an eye on older residents!
Special Food Recommendations For Older Geese
Older geese may have a harder time foraging or absorbing the proper mix of nutrients from their typical food, or they may be eating quite a bit of food and retaining it due to decreased mobility. Therefore, it’s important to monitor an older goose’s weight as they age to ensure that they aren’t under or overeating to a concerning extent, as both conditions can have health repercussions. If a goose seems to be gaining weight, you might have to end their access to free-choice feeding or lower their overall caloric intake. Generally, an older bird should have their protein intake limited to prevent Gout, a common and deadly disease.
Beyond these changes, continue to feed the goose well with a diverse diet of appropriate food, greens, vitamins and minerals, and the occasional healthy treat!
In the wintertime, powdered cayenne pepper added to an elderly goose’s food can help improve their circulation.
Indoor Living Space Recommendations For Older Geese
Older geese may require extra bedding material in order to make it easier for them to sleep and relax in their sleeping areas, especially to prevent pressure sores in arthritic geese who may be more prone to lying down than they used to. If necessary, transition their indoor space to wood shavings or shorter fiber straw in order to accomodate those with more limited mobility. Make sure that their food and water sources are close by! An older goose might also need a gentle ramp to their indoor living space in order to help get them in and out safely and comfortably.
Outdoor Living Space Recommendations For Older Geese
If an older goose is having a harder time thriving due to decreased mobility or increased bullying from the rest of the flock, it might be time to give them their own pasture and pond to spend time in. A smaller pasture with close access to food and water can give them the opportunity to get around easier and not have to compete with younger or more confrontational geese for resources.
Social Recommendations For Older Geese
As geese are flock-oriented animals, they tend to form strong bonds with some of their fellow geese, especially those in a mating pair. As a result, isolated geese are prone to depression. If you decide that it’s best to give an older goose their own special indoor or outdoor space, make sure to house them with one of their flock friends– their closest friend if possible! This can help them feel more at home and at peace with their new surroundings.
Foot Care For Older Geese
Older geese tend to be less active than their younger flockmates, and as a result, may need their toenails trimmed in order to keep them comfortable.
Managing Arthritis In Older Geese
Arthritis is one of the most common health concerns in older animals, especially geese due to their larger size. A goose might develop arthritis or joint inflammation in either or both of their legs or feet. Untreated, this could eventually manifest as debilitating chronic pain. You might have to treat an older goose with glucosamine and regular anti-inflammatory treatments or goose-approved NSAID pain relievers such as Meloxicam, ketoprofen, Carprofen, or another NSAID on your veterinarian’s recommendation (never combine NSAID treatments). For a more longterm solution for arthritis, you can administer a Chondroprotective agent such as Adequan to help repair joint cartilage and soothe inflammation. Sanctuaries have also seen some success treating arthritis pains with more natural remedies in conjunction with medication such as Botswella (also known as Indian Frankincense) to successfully lower inflammation as well as acupuncture, cayenne, turmeric and anecdotally, CBD oil. Make extra sure that their environment is as arthritis-friendly as can be, minimizing steep grades (or installing elderly goose-appropriate ramps) and long walks to food or water if possible! Make sure to talk to your veterinarian to assess the individual and create a treatment plan for arthritis.
If a goose is in too much pain to move due to arthritis or injury in their leg, consider making them a soft fabric sling hammock with holes for their legs and with their food nearby to keep them from developing pressure sores. They’ll be much more comfortable and safe that way.
Unfortunately, arthritis tends to lead to bumblefoot infections due to changes in how they walk, so be extra vigilant in their foot care!
Rear End Care For Older Geese
Older geese sometimes have a more difficult time preening and cleaning due to decreased comfortable mobility. As a result, they may have messier rear ends than they used to. This can potentially lead to health challenges like infections and parasites. You can help out an older goose struggling with preening by giving them regular swimming sessions in a clean, cooler-temperature water environment like a bathtub (though never with soap, which can remove their natural waterproofing). You may have to adjust the water level because geese are quite particular about the depth that they like to preen in. You can also help them dry afterwards with a non-heated blow dryer to help restore ample fluff to their feathers!