Earn a reputation for being a crazy sheep lady and life gets even more interesting. Recently I was contacted by a complete stranger, asking me to take a look at her sick sheep. She thought it might be urinary calculi and, seeing the animal, that was clearly it. Urinary calculi – aka kidney stones – are a common problem in young, castrated male sheep and goats. If the stone actually causes the urinary bladder or urethra to rupture, this problem is called “water belly” because of the accumulation of urine in the abdomen. Stones can also form in the female but very rarely cause a problem because of the large size of the urethra. Males that are castrated at a very young age have a much smaller penis and urethra, leading to easier blockage of the urethra by small stones. Caught early they can be treated but this poor lamb had been suffering a long, long time – his bladder had already ruptured and formed the classic “water belly”.
The only humane thing was to put him out of his misery, which we did immediately. The owner just wanted him gone so, rather than have his life go to waste, we brought him home to process.
Between our concern and the coming storm, we forgot to get pictures of him. However I found an image on the web that is very similar to what we saw:
While skinning, bloody urine leaked, tainting much of the carcass. The hind legs, which were suspended above the abdomen when hung, were fine, however much of the rest of the meat became dog food.
We can only hope the owner learned from this experience to seek help early, to avoid needless suffering. Meanwhile, I am thankful none of our sheep or goats have had this problem.
And if you enjoyed this post, you won’t want to miss next week when I describe, in detail, the symptoms, progression, and common complications of malignant rectonasal inversitis.