Alpaca Health Care

Alpaca Health Care

Yearly vaccinations and a regular schedule for deworming are recommended to maintain animal health. It would be advisable to seek a veterinarian’s advice or contact breedn associations in your area for preventative health suggestions, specific nutritional requirements, or special problems prevalent in your area. Work with your veterinarian to determine what vaccination schedule is necessary to protect your animals from local disease risks.

Because llamas and alpacas are from the dry, thin air in the high plains and mountains of South America, heat stress is a concern during a hot, humid day. They should be sheared in the spring and a small wading pool or sprinkler may be needed to help keep them cool. They need shelter from direct sunlight, and air movement is also necessary.

During the heat of summer when the heat index is 120 or more and an animal is breathing with an open mouth, is drooling, walks with a stiffness due to muscle soreness, or is unwilling to get up, assume it is in heat stress and cool it down immediately. Hosing the llama all over, immersing the animal in a pond or trough, or placing ice packs under the belly, armpits, and thighs can cool them down sufficiently until the veterinarian arrives.

Alpaca Health Care

Llamas and alpacas raised where white-tailed deer are found have the possibility of becoming infected with the parasite Parelophostrongylus tenuis or meningeal worm. The white-tailed deer is a natural host for the parasite, which has a fairly complex life cycle. Health problems occur when other species ingest the parasite and the meningeal worms migrate to the central nervous system and cause paralysis in the host animal.

Before anyone (new or established llama or alpaca producer) buys a llama or alpaca, the buyer should check out the seller’s herd and make sure the animals all look healthy, well fed, and well treated. The buyer must ask questions of the seller and learn as much as possible about the animal’s health, diseases, and parasites. The buyer needs to ask about health records, breeding programs, origin of the seller’s stock, proof of health tests, and status of the herd, as well as other questions needed to determine that the seller is knowledgeable.

A prospective llama breeding stock buyer particularly needs to ask whether choanal atresia has occurred in the seller’s herd. Choanal atresia is a congenital defect, relatively common in llamas, that is the lack of a connection between the nose and the mouth. It makes up about 10% of all congenital defects in llamas, and is thought to be heritable.

Article Related Questions:

  • Are alpacas high maintenance?
  • Do alpacas need to be wormed?
  • What vaccines do alpacas need?
  • How much does it cost to take care of an alpaca?
  • What is the average lifespan of an alpaca?

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