In Summary
  • Animals under treatment should be fed a balanced diet and lots of water to enhance the healing process, unless restricted by the doctor
  • To be a good animal health service provider, new graduates should always associate themselves with senior colleagues whom they can consult in case of difficulties.
  • Incompetence of a service provider may result in inaccurate diagnosis, poor choice of treatment plan or bad choice of drugs and drug administration.
  • The farmer and the animal health service provider must execute the full course of treatment as long as progressive recovery is observed.

It happens with animals, humans and crops. Sometimes treatment for certain illnesses fail to work as expected, even when the drugs are changed, leading to the patient succumbing to the illness.

This being my first article of 2019, I must share with you my experiences on this important subject because the information could save your animals from potential treatment failures and improve your prosperity this year.

I have many times encountered complaints of ineffective treatment. I have also personally given a course of treatment and have to modify it after realising I was not getting the desired results or the rate of healing was too slow.

When response is very slow from the onset, there is risk of the treatment failing altogether.

As a rule of thumb, the initial treatment should show great improvement in the first 24 hours because the infectious agent or the disease process has been strongly attacked and largely stopped.

Thereafter, the healing rate is normally slower because the damaged tissues take long to heal. I always advise my clients the recovery signs they need to monitor and report within 12 to 24 hours if no appreciable change is observed or if there is further deterioration.

Two week ago, I experienced a case of failed treatment. The farmer in Nairobi told me her dairy goats had been having diarrhoea for about a month. Despite treatment, three had died. The others kept worsening, had poor appetite and continued losing body condition. She feared they would all eventually die.

Upon examining the treatment records, I found the goats had been given Kaolin and sulphonamide-trimethoprim combination once.

Though I had not examined the goats, it was obvious they were unlikely to have recovered from the diarrhoea. I also noticed that the service provider had not given the probable cause of the diarrhoea but had just indicated diagnosis as “diarrhoea”.

Unfortunately, like headache, vomiting, sweating and fainting, among other observations, diarrhoea is only a sign of an underlying disease or disease process and it is not the real disease.

I always advise farmers that no veterinary service provider should ever give them an observation the farmer can make to be a diagnosis. After all, in the case of the goat farmer, she had called the service provider because she had seen the goats had diarrhoea.

I diagnosed coccidiosis with bacterial diarrhoea and treated the disease using anti-coccidia medicine and two types of antibiotics.


I injected one antibiotic; then gave the other one by mouth. I also dewormed the goats since the last time they had been offered dewormers was six months. Goats should be dewormed at least every three months.

I instructed the farmer to give the antibiotic and anti-coccidia medicine for five days. I also asked her to inform me if the goats would have improved by afternoon of the following day.

That is, they should have increased appetite, be livelier and reduced the frequency of diarrhoea by producing thickening droppings.

The farmer happily called me at 4pm the following day to report the diarrhoea had actually stopped and the goats had eaten about half their normal ration.

I advised her to complete the treatment course. The goats have since fully recovered and the owner called me last week to ask why the initial treatment had failed.

Majority of treatments are successful. There are, however, a myriad of reasons why treatment fails. The most common cause is incompetence of the service provider.

Page 1 of 2