The veterinarians and staff at the VMTH use the facilities and resources within the hospital to provide the best possible outcomes for camelid patients.
Llama and alpacas are seen by the veterinarians in the Large Animal Clinic. The facilities are well-adapted to a variety of species, including camelids. Private examination rooms are available to reduce the stress and distractions from other hospital activities. If hospitalization is needed, around-the-clock supervision of all patients is performed. The most critically-ill patients receive additional care and monitoring in the ICU. The intensive management and supportive care of sick and/or newborn crias is provided in the VMTH’s specialized Lucy Whittier Neonatal ICU. Customized stalls are used to pad and support sick crias, allowing intensive management under the watchful eye of the dam in an adjoining stall.
Llamas and alpacas are hospitalized in stalls within the hospital barns. Three sizes of stalls are available to accommodate individual or group housing or companion animals. Stalls have rubber floor mats if owners prefer no bedding; straw and shavings are also available. Camelids may be fed orchard grass, alfalfa, or oat hay, depending on owners’ preferences, or owners may bring their own feed. Camelid-specific mineral supplements and pellets are stocked in the feed room, as well as a variety of hay pellets and other feeds. Grassy lawn and pastures may be used if turnout exercise and grazing are appropriate for the patient’s care.
Two camelid chutes are available to safely restraint camelids for procedures. The portable chute can be maneuvered around the facility to wherever it is needed. The sturdy Great Divide llama chute may be used when more secure restraint is needed. For camelids that need assistance to stand or support while standing, two different designs of camelid slings are available to accommodate different sizes of animals and their needs.
If general anesthesia is required, special camelid equipment is used to safely induce and maintain anesthesia by board-certified anesthesiologists and technicians. In addition to multispecies diagnostic tests, camelid specific laboratory tests include the Modified Stoll’s fecal parasitology test and the Camelid Blood Panel. Progesterone assays are available through the VMTH Clinical Chemistry Laboratory or the Clinical Endocrinology Laboratory.
The VMTH pharmacy stocks a wide variety of antibiotics, vaccinations, antiulcer therapies and other medications to treat sick camelids. Individually-tailored fluid therapy and intravenous nutrition may be used to provide fluid support and prevent fatty liver syndrome. Llama plasma is stored in our blood bank if a plasma transfusion is necessary. If a blood transfusion is needed, there are healthy camelids (both llama and alpaca) that have tested negative for BVDV, Mycoplasma hemolamae and other diseases for use as blood donors in our blood donor/teaching herd. Also, if necessary, rumen juice is available for transfaunation (transfer of beneficial microbes from one animal to another) to stimulate the digestive tract and appetite of sick camelids.