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 2. Alpaca Healthcare & Nutrition
 Sudden death
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17 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2013 :  7:29:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My beautiful 8 year old alpaca died today. I've only had her for 3 months, but I fell in love with her instantly. She started acting oddly earlier in the week, then 4 days ago she started cushing a lot. 2 days ago she quite eating entirely. She still drank water, but had developed diarrhea. We started trying to reach an alpaca vet or any vet familiar with alpacas (we are in Southwestern PA). We finally found one who would come out to our farm today (Sunday). The vet diagnosed pneumonia and possibly enteritis. She gave Tibet Draxil, Banamine, B complex, and another shot for the suspected enteritis. My poor girl did not react well to the medication and writhed around in severe pain, panting and drooling. when she finally seemed to be calming, (the vet had said she would be kind of dopey), my husband made me go home and get warm. I've been kind of living at the barn since she quit eating. 20 minutes later, my husband said to come back, Tibet had died. How is this possible? She was perfectly healthy and active 4 days ago and now she is dead. I'm a new alpaca owner and appreciate any advice anyone will give me.



639 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2013 :  8:50:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit KT's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I am so sorry. It is so hard to have an animal die, especially when you really don't know what happened. It's amazing how fast they can go downhill. Is there a vet teaching hospital around or other facility that could do a necropsy? It sounds gruesome, but you'd at least find out what the real cause of death was. Maybe you could collect a stool sample from her rectum and have it tested for parasites? At least then you'd be able to be on the alert with your other animals if it was positive. From the symptoms you gave, it sounds gut related to me; maybe the effect of parasites or an ulcer?
All the best, and again, I am sorry. I am still haunted by the death of a llama I had years ago..he had his head on my shoulder as I sat next to him in the hay. We fall for these animals easily!


Beech Springs Alpacas
126 Arthur Majette Rd
Aulander, NC 27805
252-333-9457 (c)
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318 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2013 :  10:21:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit joeykatp's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm so sorry you lost her. They do go quickly. I've yet to lose an animal, but I know it will happen someday. I can't imagine your pain.
I agree with Kate. I necropsy would be the best course of action. Otherwise you will always be wondering why she died. It's possible the medication just came too late, but was it really pneumonia that killed her?
Please let us know if you find out anything more about her death. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Kathy Paternoster
Our Father's Farm
New Hampton, NY
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box cars

534 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  04:21:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Michelle, we had the same thing happen, our girl passed Sat. night. She was our first alpaca, had her for 14 years. farm life these things happen.

Ken & Pat Humbert
Pondview Alpaca Ranch
5088 Booth Rd.
China, Mi. 48054
N-42.73 W-82.51
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17 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  1:02:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks to all of you for your support. My husband took her to the vet that had treated her for a necropsy. We should get results back this afternoon. I am trying to balance my emotions with reason. I have started to think that the medication may have been the final insult to my poor Tibet. After she received the shot of Draxil, she was in terrible pain and was breathing heavily and moaning. It was awful to watch. Now I am wondering if the stress of the drugs was just too much for her weakened condition. Has anyone else had experience with this drug?

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922 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  1:24:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit Paradise's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I googled it and it appears to be an anti imflammatory, which banamine is, too. I had never heard of it before. Did the vet say why he was using both?

These animals are prey animals, so they hide their symptoms until they are really sick. Because of that, most of us have experienced the shock of losing an animal suddenly so we can very much sympathize with you. Sorry for your loss.

Laura Hillman
Paradise Alpacas
Hempstead, TX
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3204 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  5:31:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm very sorry for your loss, but in the future, if an alpaca stops eating - it is often very close to death. As soon as you notice an alpaca acting off is the time to involve the vet if you're not confident in your own diagnostic skills (and sometimes even if you are) Now that you've found a vet that will do farm calls, build a relationship with them and help them learn about alpacas if they're not very familiar with them.

There are several possibilities that immediately jump to mind as to what may have been wrong with her, just based on your short description - one is barber pole worm, a gut parasite that causes anemia and death, often very rapidly. I would suggest running fecals on any other alpacas you have, to see if this parasite is in your herd. If it is, you will need to be very vigilant and learn to check your animals regularly for anemia.

Another possibility, given the very strange weather your part of the world has had lately, is polioencephalomalacia (PEM), which is a shortage of thiamine. Thiamine is absolutely critical to alpacas, and they're much more sensitive to depletion than other livestock - keeping thiamine on hand (it's prescription only from your vet) is critical for alpaca owners.

Hopefully the necropsy will give you a concrete answer, but often, they don't.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Pittsfield, ME
(207) 660-5276 (cell)
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17 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  7:29:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My husband just told me the results of the necropsy. Tibet died from an acute heart blockage, essentially, she had a heart attack. We purchased Tibet from a reputable alpaca farm at a very reasonable price. One of Tibets' issues was that she began cushing whenever led on a harness. We were told that was why she was retired from showing. We have no interest in showing, so her personality and beauty were why we wanted her.
Our vet said she probably started cushing from lack of oxygen whenever she became excited, such as being asked to perform. This was an early warning sign of a medical issue, not a behavioral issue. We only had her for a short time, but we will remember her forever.

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2830 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  9:07:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello Michelle, and I am sorry for your loss as well. At least you received an answer as to the cause of her death. I had two of my girls die within two weeks a number of years ago, and to this day I do not know what caused their demise. They went down very quickly and as soon as I noticed something odd, I took them to Ohio State Vet hospital. They did an autopsy and I also had the feed checked and could not find anything. No matter how long you are into this, it never gets any easier loosing one of them. You have my sympathy.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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3320 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2013 :  07:52:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote
So sorry to hear!


D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
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318 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2013 :  4:16:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit joeykatp's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm so glad you found out what caused her death. At least you know there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome.
Did they mention pneumonia at all or was the initial diagnosis incorrect due to the lack of oxygen from the heart/circulation problem?

Kathy Paternoster
Our Father's Farm
New Hampton, NY
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