Large Animal Services - Alpaca & Llama Clinic
While most of our patients are referred to the VMTH by veterinarians in private practice, many of our regularly-scheduled and emergency services are also available to horse owners without referral. In either case, we request that you make an appointment or, in the case of emergencies, call ahead to let us know you are coming, so that we can provide you and your horse with service in a timely manner. We greatly value the role that your veterinarian plays in maintaining the health of your horses and we strive to develop a strong working relationship and open communication with him or her as partners in the provision of high quality veterinary care. We will discuss our findings with your veterinarian, provide regular updates regarding the status of your horse during hospitalization, and communicate recommendations for continued treatment and follow-up care once your horse leaves our hospital.
Full Service Care
Care for critically ill crias is provided by our team of dedicated and highly trained faculty, resident veterinarians, and nurses. The intensive management and supportive care of these patients is provided in a specialized intensive care unit (ICU) facility, the Lucy Whittier Neonatal ICU Unit. Customized stalls are used to pad and support sick crias, allowing intensive management under the watchful eye of the dam in an adjoining stall.
Critical and Intensive Care
Critical and Intensive Care
Critical and intensive care is available to any patient that will benefit from constant monitoring and advanced management. Veterinarians with clinical expertise in critical care direct the hour-by-hour management of these patients. Highly trained teams of ICU nurses staff the three intensive care unit (ICU) facilities at a ratio of one nurse to every two patients. These specialized staff and facilities maximize the quality of patient care, while minimizing the risk of infection in these vulnerable and critically ill patients.
Faculty and resident veterinarians accurately diagnose and treat alpacas and llamas with disorders of the teeth, mouth, or sinuses that may affect proper digestion of food or result in infection. Routine and advanced dental procedures including floating of cheek teeth to remove sharp points, reduction of overgrown teeth to balance the mouth, and tooth extractions are performed. Detailed imaging techniques such as CT scanning of the teeth and sinuses are available to help our clinicians accurately define which teeth are diseased if this remains in doubt after a thorough oral examination and radiographic study.
Emergency and Critical Care
Emergency services are available 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Emergency and Critical Care services work with skilled emergency nurses to provide specialized medical, surgical, anesthetic, and obstetrical expertise for the evaluation and management of alpacas and llamas with life-threatening conditions. Colic, wounds, orthopedic injuries, trauma, respiratory difficulty, dystocia (birthing problems), high-risk pregnancy, cria diseases, and acute neurologic or other life-threatening disorders are a few examples of the many problems managed by our dedicated team of emergency clinicians and nurses.
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Surgery and Lameness services perform complete evaluations on alpacas and llamas of all types with a variety of lameness or leg problems. Once the problem is localized, imaging techniques such as radiographs, ultrasound, CT or MRI may then be used to definitively diagnose the underlying problem and to determine the optimal approach to management and treatment of the lameness.
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Medicine Services perform complete diagnostic evaluations and deliver advanced patient care and treatment to alpacas and llamas with a variety of infectious and non-infectious medical disorders involving many body systems. Our internal medicine specialists avail themselves of the VMTHâ€™s extensive laboratory and advanced imaging services as they direct patient evaluation and treatment. In addition, the following are some of the many diagnostic techniques our clinicians may use to definitively diagnose problems in camelid patients: endoscopy; spinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) collection; sampling of body cavities, joints, sinuses, and bone marrow; transtracheal wash (TTW) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL); biopsy of skin, masses, internal organs, and muscle; and electrophysiology testing, including electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electroencephalography (EEG), and brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER).
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Reproduction service provide reproductive care to alpacas and llamas at the hospital. In addition, our clinicians manage alpacas and llamas experiencing dystocia (difficult birthing), working in close collaboration with veterinarians specializing in surgery, neonatology, critical patient care, and anesthesia.
A wide range of soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries are performed on camelids at the VMTH. Our surgical faculty and resident veterinarians carefully evaluate patients in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and determine the best approach to treatment of the problem. If surgery is judged to be the best option, our surgeons provide the most advanced surgical techniques available, including minimally invasive approaches such as arthroscopy, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, and endoscopic laser surgery. Decisions regarding the surgical approaches and techniques to be used, either traditional or minimally invasive, are always made with the goal of optimizing patient outcome.
Anesthesia and Pain Management
Anesthesia and Pain Management
Anesthesia and Pain Management: Safe anesthesia of large animal patients requires a comprehensive and customized approach to each patient. Our experienced team of specialized anesthesia clinicians and technicians determine the best approach for each patient by combining pain management strategies with up-to-date techniques and individually managed, supervised recoveries. This innovative group anesthetizes a wide variety of large animal species and provides invaluable expertise for the management of chronic or severe pain in non-anesthetized patients throughout the hospital.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) are now being offered at the UC Davis Large Animal Hospital as an adjunctive clinical service to inpatients and outpatients. Acupuncture and TCVM can easily be integrated into conventional diagnostic and treatment modalities to optimize clinical outcome.
Heart problems can be present at birth or may develop later in life. These problems can manifest in several ways including poor growth, intolerance of exercise, presence of a heart murmur, irregular heartbeats, distended veins, weakness, or collapse. Accurate diagnosis of heart diseases typically requires advanced diagnostic techniques such as electrocardiography (ECG), echocardiology, color flow Doppler, angiography, cardiac catheterization, and blood testing. Our specialized Veterinary Cardiologists use these techniques in large animal patients as part of the in-depth evaluation needed to determine the underlying problem and to recommend appropriate treatment.
Skin diseases are a frustrating and common problem in large animals. Our specialist dermatology faculty and resident veterinarians use a number of tests including skin scrapes or biopsies, intradermal skin testing, and blood tests to help them reach an accurate diagnosis and prescribe effective treatments and approaches to management.
Our Veterinary Genetics specialists provide consultations to clients who own camelids and other large animals with suspected inherited diseases. Our veterinarians are able to utilize the expertise and technology at the Veterinary Genetic Laboratory to perform DNA and chromosomal testing to help diagnose genetic diseases.
Management of cancer in large animals presents several unique challenges to clinicians. Improving patient outcome and enhancing quality of life while realistically addressing owner expectations are important considerations in the treatment of large animal patients with cancer. Our oncology specialists provide comprehensive diagnostic services to accurately identify the type of cancer and guide decisions regarding therapeutic options. The individualized therapeutic plan may include surgery, local or systemic chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy, or combinations of these approaches.
A variety of eye diseases occur commonly in camelids and other large animal species. Since all eye conditions are potentially a threat to normal vision, veterinary assistance should be sought as soon as an animal owner suspects that an eye problem may be present. While many problems such as conjunctivitis and superficial ulcers can be treated successfully in the field, our specialized Veterinary Ophthalmologists provide invaluable services for the accurate diagnosis and successful treatment of a range of common and rare eye diseases. They use advanced techniques and instruments to examine the eye and determine the optimal treatment, with the goal of maximizing the chances of preserving vision. Our ophthalmologists have special expertise in the treatment of eye injuries, corneal ulcers, infections, tumors, glaucoma, cataracts, and other internal eye diseases.
The Anatomic Pathology Service provides comprehensive professional necropsy and biopsy diagnostic services while educating future pathologists and veterinarians. The Anatomic Pathology Service includes highly-qualified, board-certified pathologists and residents in one of the nation's largest veterinary anatomic pathology residency programs.
Clinical Laboratory Services
Clinical Laboratory Services
The Clinical Laboratory Services of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital support our hospital's veterinarians as well as veterinarians of California, the United States and other countries. Tests take place in several locations at the hospital for hospital patients, outpatients and cases from referring veterinarians. We also perform testing for scientists working on special projects and studies. Laboratory test results help your veterinarian maintain your pet's health and, when your pet is sick, make a diagnosis so that treatment can begin. Early diagnosis helps assure that appropriate treatment takes place quickly.
The VMTH is equipped with a GE Helical Computed Tomography (CT) unit, which has a customized table capable of supporting anesthetized large animals, including camelids. This high speed and precise machine is capable of capturing detailed 3-dimensional images of the legs, head, neck, and sometimes the whole body of alpacas and llamas, thereby providing diagnostic information that cannot be obtained using other imaging techniques. By pioneering the use of contrast CT, our staff radiologists have further enhanced our diagnostic capabilities, allowing us to detect injuries and abnormalities that were not previously detectable using other imaging techniques.
Endoscopy is a diagnostic technology that uses fiber-optic telescopes and cables, miniaturized cameras, and video microchips to permit internal evaluation of respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, and reproductive organs. Several snake-like endoscopes in different lengths and diameters are available to clinicians at the VMTH for use in the diagnostic evaluation of many patients. The most commonly used endoscope is 1 meter in length and is used to examine the nasal passages, throat, airway, upper esophagus, and urinary or reproductive tracts. A narrow, pediatric endoscope is particularly useful for examining the small nasal passages of alpacas and llamas.
State-of-the-art clinical laboratories provide advanced diagnostic support to our faculty and referring veterinarians. Routine tests, including complete blood counts, biochemistry panels, urinalysis, and bacterial cultures, are readily available. Specialized diagnostic tests include immunology to detect antibodies against different diseases; virology to diagnose viral infections; endocrinology to assess hormone imbalances; and histopathology to look for signs of disease in biopsies and tissue samples. Testing for persistently infected Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) carriers is available through the California Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System. Cross-matching are available to screen and select blood donors for transfusions. Therapeutic drug monitoring is available to closely tailor drug dosages to each patient. The veterinarians in the Lucy Whittier Molecular and Diagnostic Core Facility are developing and applying the use of real-time TaqMan PCR testing to rapidly and accurately diagnose animal diseases. The Neuromuscular Diseases Laboratory uses a variety of techniques to diagnose disorders affecting muscles or nervous system in all species.
Equine Blood Typing Information
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit creates images that are particularly useful for evaluating soft tissue problems. The MRI table is limited to smaller animals, such as crias, alpacas, and small llamas.
Nuclear scintigraphy, also known as a bone scanning, is a useful diagnostic tool to screen or localize subtle or elusive lesions, such as incomplete fractures, degenerative changes in the spine or limbs, or infection. A radioactive compound that binds to bone or white blood cells is administered intravenously, and a gamma camera attached to a computer is then used to scan the animal for localization of the radiation ("hot spots"), indicating the site of the problem. The radioactive substance does not harm the animal and is quickly removed by the body through the urine. Although nuclear scintigraphy does not specifically diagnose the underlying problem, it provides important information that is helpful in determining the need for further diagnostic tests and in guiding management.
Radiology is one of the most important procedures used in the diagnostic evaluation of camelids presented to all services of the VMTH. Our specialist radiologists and highly skilled technical staff use stationary and portable x-ray equipment to produce detailed diagnostic studies of the abdomen, head, chest, neck, stifle, shoulder, and all parts of the lower limbs. Contrast studies, including myelograms, fistulograms, and barium studies, are performed routinely. Our modern equipment captures radiographic images digitally, allowing further enhancement, computerized storage, and electronic transmission of images.
Experienced ultrasound specialists use state-of-the-art equipment to provide a complete range of ultrasound imaging services. Ultrasound studies are performed to examine abdominal and thoracic organs, tendons, ligaments, and joints to aid in the diagnosis of weight loss, suspected tumors, musculoskeletal problems, or diseases of the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, bladder and other organs. In addition, our ultrasound specialists perform ultrasound-guided aspiration or biopsy of abnormalities in order to provide accurate samples for further diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Specialized Therapies & Programs
Advanced Fracture Repair
Advanced Fracture Repair
Orthopedic injuries can be devastating to large animal patients. In addition to traditional fracture repair techniques, our large animal surgery specialists use state-of-the-art advanced orthopedic techniques. These techniques minimize irritation to nearby structures, while maximizing repair strength and improving the healing response. Our orthopedic surgeons are continually seeking new ways to improve the success rate and outcome for alpacas and llamas with these serious injuries.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally Invasive Surgery
In addition to using standard surgical techniques, our surgery specialists use minimally invasive surgical techniques to decrease recovery time, improve healing, decrease complications, and speed return to normal activity. Minimally invasive surgical techniques include arthroscopy, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, lithotripsy, and endoscopic laser surgery. These procedures involve the use of a miniaturized video camera and specialized instruments that allow very detailed examination and treatment of internal structures. Arthroscopy allows treatment of problems within joints. Laparoscopy is used to diagnose and treat problems that occur in the abdomen, and can include removal of retained testicles, removal of normal or abnormal ovaries, and biopsy of various abdominal organs. Endoscopic laser surgery can be used to treat problems in the upper respiratory tract and esophagus.
Oncology experts perform radiation therapy using a state-of-the-art, linear accelerator that is designed to accommodate large animals. The advantages of this new facility include precision-targeted treatment of tumors, which minimizes the duration of the procedure and reduces undesirable side effects to associated tissues. This treatment option represents an important advance in cancer therapy.
Alpacas and llamas that have neurological problems such as spinal cord, trauma or weakness due to other causes are often unable to rise or bear weight on their limbs. The use of slings to encourage these camelids to stand is often an essential part of the treatment needed to promote their recovery. Similarly, provision of long-term sling support may be necessary to allow alpacas and llamas with severe musculoskeletal injuries to recover.