Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sick Alpaca

Saturday morning when I got up & came downstairs, when I looked out the window, Christopher Gold was laying right outside the doorway of the barn, right next to a manure pile. I instantly new something was wrong because they never lay there. After 5 seconds of watching him, I could see his head was shaking & bobbing around like he had no control over it & he kept lowering his head like he needed to lay it on the ground. I immediately called the vet & luckily she was already on her way to the town next door to me for another emergency call but could be here in an hour. I then called my good friend Marcia who is very knowledgable as she has an alpaca breeding farm. She always makes me feel better & helps calm me down.

When he stood up, it was like he was drunk. He was trembling in his limbs & appeared quite dizzy. He would loose his balance & fall.

When I fed everyone their grain while waiting for the vet, he managed his way over & as soon as he did the poor thing fell & hit his mouth on the pen panel. It looked like a blood waterfall coming out of his mouth. I know it was because it was combined with drool, but it looked terrible. In this picture he looked better as it was about 20 min. after he hit his mouth. I felt so bad for him. He tried so hard to make it to the feeder & when he did he couldn't even stay standing up.

My vet said she hadn't seen anything quite like it. The symptoms didn't quite fit any known problem as he was lacking certain symptoms that should be present for certain illnesses. He would seem a little better & in a few minutes he would get worse with a dizzy spell. You could see it coming on. It came in waves every few minutes.

These were the possible causes we were thinking:

1. Thiamine deficiency - This fit the best but he didn't appear to be blinded. With thiamine deficiency, it blinds them. I am thinking though, maybe that just hadn't set in yet. When my vet did the light test on his eyes, there wasn't any reaction from his pupils.

2. Meningeal Worm - But this didn't quite fit because of the shaking & bobbing of the head. With meningeal worm, he wouldn't have this and he was able get up fine from a cushing position. Also, when we put food or water in front of him, sometimes he had a little interest, sometime none at all. With meningeal worm, he would still want to eat. This also didn't fit well because I have been giving them their wormer right up until a month an a half ago.

3. Bacterial Infection.

4. Rabies - Rabies infected animals are afraid of water. But no animals get inside the pasture so I really didn't think this was an issue. This seemed a remote possibility.

She mentioned a few others but they were kind of remote possibilities also.

When she left at 2:00, he didn't seem any better. I had some lunch & went back out to check on him. I had to make him get up every so often so his temp wouldn't go down too low & so his joints wouldn't get stiff (he didn't have a fever & his gum color was good). I also needed to keep offering him food & water & observe his progress. So, when I went back out after having some lunch, he was a little better. BIG sigh of relief! He ate 1 cup of grain & then went over & had some small bites of hay out of the feeder. The drunkenness appeared to be lessened also & I didn't witness another "wave". By supper time he had improved even more. Even less drunkenness, although he still got dizzy & lost his balance sometimes when he turned his head. He went right over to the grain buckets for supper & ate a good supper, then went to the hay feeder & was taking larger mouthfuls of hay. He was also acting more normal, like he was feeling better.

So my vet called me later in the evening to check up on him. We are thinking it's probably the thiamine deficiency. It's not known why this happens. He'll get a thiamine shot & a penicillin shot twice a day for the next 3 days. BIG sigh of relief. I have not been out yet this morning. I am expecting he is doing even better. I hope. I drug my hubby out at 9:00 last night to hold him so I could give him his shots. (This spring we'll get my chute moved inside the barn so I won't need someone to hold them for shots & toenails.)

Boy, it is so stressful to see them like that. You don't know what's wrong, you don't know if they're going to die before the vet gets there. You just want to fix it & make it stop. It is so calming though when your vet calls you right back & then when you know they are on their way & when they are already close by.....even better. She lives, I dont' know, like an hour and a half away probably? So, it was calming that she was already nearby.

I will probably post again this evening to give his progress. Also, we are getting a snow storm right now & we wanted to go snowshoeing today so I will take some pics.



Claire said...

Oh goodness me, how scary for you, and for him too! I hope he continues to recover. Do keep us updated! Could he have eaten something fermented and actually have been drunk?

K said...

Hi Claire, Funny you should say that. Whe my vet was there, she said she had actually seen a horse who was drunk from eating too much fermented fruit!

Yes, one of her thoughts also was that he had gotten into something toxic but there really isn't anything he could have gotten into. Thanks for you concern & ideas. I will definitely keep his progress posted. Kelly