You can’t be sure what you will find the next time you go down to the alpaca corral.
This week I found a young female with a limp – was it time to call the vet or could I deal with it – and what was I actually dealing with?
Here is a simple approach I took to assess and do a differential diagnosis of her condition. Hopefully it might prove useful to you too should you discover something unexpected when you next visit your alpacas.
- Are you out of your depth already and need a vet?
- Do you need someone to help you?
- have you got everything you need? (e.g. headtorch or disposable gloves, or water)
- Separate off the animal for examination if possible.
- Small spaces are better than large – use a catch pen constructed with alpaca hurdles (taller than sheep hurdles).
- Start with the obvious – blood, pus, wound, thorn
- Clarify the specific location of pain or problem – knee, foot, joint, pad etc.
- Be gentle and move the joints checking for a response
- keep calm
- if not severe or acute, can you wait and observe later
- do they need to be ‘kept in’ with a companion
- think when it started and if there was anything different at that time – e.g. hedge trimming
- Am I out of my depth and do I need assistance?
- What can I do to check the nature of the problem and narrow down its source? Start simple.
- What can I rule out?
- Next steps? e.g. watch and wait; arrange for a vet visit; ask someone for advice.