Alpaca Update ~ 10/17

I haven’t discussed much of what I do for a living. At least not here. I will get to that, but first, I need to document what has been going on these last few days.  The following posts about the alpaca will be the letters I wrote as updates to the owners. I am posting these things, not just as my own journal, but to put something out there on the net, in case if one day someone goes searching on the internet for answers like I did. The events have already happened, but I am posting the letters as posts that correspond with the same date.

x gg

Dear all,

Dr. –  came back today for Alpaca. He is still not eating and not drinking anything either. His blood work showed nothing. Everything was pretty much normal. She went ahead and tubed him to check for choke. Again.. nothing. She went ahead and put some mineral oil in his stomach in case a blockage was in his intestine.

Alpaca’s cheeks have become very swollen which was something I noticed yesterday. Upon careful examination, it was impacted food. He had food storing inside his cheeks. She cleaned all of the mess out and had to examine him for the cause of his food gathering. His teeth all looked normal. She checked for abscesses.. felt nothing. She checked his jaw… felt nothing. But as she was messing around in his mouth, she noticed something odd… Alpaca was not swallowing and not moving his tongue. She started to stick her fingers in to get him to gag.. nothing. She pulled his tongue out the side of his mouth… he never pulled it back in, he just let it sit there. With all the tugging and his lack of gag reflex, she concludes that his tongue is paralyzed. We wanted to make sure that Alpaca wasn’t being stubborn or this is how all alpacas respond… so we went and got Alpaca B  and tried him out. Sure enough, he was moving his tongue around, making it hard for her to grab it and as soon as she got it out and let go, he pulled it back in. So she is pretty convinced that for some reason, Alpaca’s tongue is paralyzed. This would be the reason why he had food impacted and why he is unable to eat or drink.

So why did this happen? Honestly she can’t say for sure. The symptoms came on acutely, so it can’t be a gradual decline in his health. He has been fine until yesterday. I thought maybe this is why he started losing weight every month, but it doesn’t explain how something can come up so acutely. This is a head scratcher for Dr. – , so as I stood there, she consulted with Dr. – – , who is a local vet near Hospital who is quickly making a name for herself as a camelid doctor. She thought, if anyone could have an answer, it would be her.

One of the main possibilities is nerve damage from trauma. Immediately, my mind went back to May when Camel knocked Alpaca around and he had hurt his leg and also lost his eye sight for a brief period of time. Did something more happen? Did his jaw get injured and now after trying to heal abnormally, it is pinching off a nerve, causing paralysis? Dr. –  won’t rule it out as a possibility, but thinks too much time has passed from that incident to affect him this way today. Maybe something happened during the night before he became noticeably sick? I will never know.

So where do we go from here? Alpaca is not eating or drinking which is a big problem, if we do nothing, well, then he will pass due to starvation and dehydration.

One option is to admit him to the Hospital… there, he can have IV fluids and tube feedings. At the same time he will be given anti inflammatories. There will be tests done, such as radiographs. If this is in fact an acute injury, this treatment will most likely work. It should take only a few days to see him turn around.

Beyond that, if the above does not work, it gets more expensive, of course. He would have to be admitted to A or B  (if B has the equipment). There,he can have more elaborate tests done like CT scans and an EMG test which is a nerve stimulation test.

Even with all this treatment… this could in fact, still be something that can not be reversed, unfortunately. But should he be admitted to Hospital, I think they can tell if it’s something irreversable.

Of course, the last and final option that would have to be made is to put Alpaca down.

I apologize for the length of the email. I wanted to make sure I got everything in writing. It is so much easier than to give everyone a call and leave out some information. I was taking notes while talking to Dr. -.

I also want to say that I respect and understand any decision that will be made. It is all about doing what’s best for Alpaca after all.


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