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 9. General Alpaca Discussion
 Teeth Maintenance + Nail Trimming
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34 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2008 :  9:43:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello everyone,

I'm having someone over tomorrow to file down the teeth on my 3 alpacas and have their nails trimmed.

The last time he was here, he used a dremel to even out their teeth. It was pretty stressful on my boys and my question is whether there is an easier (less stressful) way of getting this done?

Also, do you recommend keeping their "fighting teeth" intact but just have them filed down or taking them out altogether?

Thanks for any/all recommendations and thoughts...



478 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2008 :  10:14:22 PM  Show Profile  Send rachshees an AOL message  Reply with Quote

We use our nail clippers to trim really long front teeth and a dremmel tool to even them out. We use pig nippers for fighting teeth, they do grow back but it takes awhile. We also have a mouth tool that opens their mouths up but we can't use it with the fighting teeth it gets in the way. The best thing is to put them in a chute. A few of our boys have to be sedated before we do teeth they just hate it but we do not want them to hurt themselves

rachel wingert
rainbow mountain alpacas
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3204 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2008 :  11:03:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My vet used OB wire to whip off four fighting teeth from an older girl (yes, girls can get their canines in too!) I held her, we put a piece of PVC pipe between her jaws to hold them open, and it took all of about five minutes to do all four. No muss, no fuss and she was only mildly grumpy about the entire process.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¬°BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
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1401 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2008 :  04:37:01 AM  Show Profile  Visit llamapelli's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Over the years we've tried various methods. Most of our experience was with the llamas, who are a heck of a lot bigger, so harder to do. We used nippers at first, until we had a tooth split to below the gumline. It had to be surgically removed. We then tried OB wire, since so many of our fellow breeders used that technique. I didn't like it because of the risk of cutting the llama's mouth or our hands--someone needs to hold the cheeks back to avoid cutting them. You also have to get the wire going fast to cut effectively. I thought it was ungainly. Then we started using a Dremmel, and loved it. It was quick and clean--much quicker than the wire for us. You can take the tooth down as much as you want, whereas the wire often just removes the tip, so has to be repeated more often. We always use the pvc mouthguard, and tend to sedate the boys. I don't like seeing animals in stress, and don't like dental procedures, so a little bit of sedation is perfect--but so much as they lay down. We also bought a cordless rechargeable Dremmel, which is really great! We almost never have to repeat tooth trimmings, so I can't see where the extra stress and recovery from complete extraction would be worth it.

Melanie McMurry
Anasazi Alpacas & Kokopelli Llamas
Gladesville, WV
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2830 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2008 :  09:32:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I use a Dremel tool to trim my dogs' nails and it does a great job. Haven't had the nerve to do the teeth on my alpacas yet. Guess I will have to get somebody to help hold the animals so I can do that.
Much easier to control a Dremel than the wire thing or nippers.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-3739
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76 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2008 :  12:05:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit MoonlitAlpacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We use a dremel and I love the results. By using both a cutting blade and a "polishing" bit you can round and smooth their teeth much better than with a wire or nippers. We place the alpaca in the shoot first so that they are restrained and all of us (alpacas too) are safe, we have a large dog's rope toy that is knotted on both ends which holds their mouth open, but is still soft on gums and the back of the mouth. Also - we squirt water on the teeth while they are being cut or filed to keep them cool. Cutting through the teeth can get surprisingly hot - I guess I am too sedated at my dentist to have really noticed.

We have enough ruffage that our guys toes generally only need clipped when they are shorn, but when they are in the shoot - it is really easy to pop open the bottom panel and get to their legs/feet without having to wrestle them.

The shoot was highly recommended to us when we started in alpacas and I would not be without it!


The Tillman Family
Cass, Carol, Kira Sage & Emery Kate

Moonlit Alpacas
Join The Family!
2170 Rte 125
Cornwall, VT 05753
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131 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2008 :  2:24:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When doing fighting teeth, how do you control the head? How do you keep the head from moving,the jaws from moving, and the lips and tongue out of the way while your in there cutting?
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Always Accoyo

1347 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2008 :  10:57:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We put them in a chute, then use a small rolled up towel to keep their mouth open. This is soft enough not to hurt their mouth, but keeps it open far enough. One person helps control the head by holding the two ends of the towel, pulling back gently on both sides. The one doing the cutting has one arm around the head holding the bottom jaw and lips, and the other hand holding the dremel tool. If the alpaca is having a really hard time with it, we might need a third person to control the rest of the body. With their mouth wedged open, they don't seem to move their tongue around much. It looks like they sort of pull it as far back inside as they can to get away from the things in their mouth. With the dremel it is over very quickly.

Nancy Wright
Always Accoyo
Oxford, MI

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1401 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  02:38:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit llamapelli's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I love the idea of using a rope dog toy. It sounds perfect, and much more comfortable for the animal than the PVC. I'm getting one on our next trip to Petco!

Melanie McMurry
Anasazi Alpacas & Kokopelli Llamas
Gladesville, WV
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56 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  06:54:17 AM  Show Profile  Visit mountaindog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
How often should the fighting teeth be done? Would Llamas and Alpacas grow at about the same rate or would Llamas take longer?

Lisa & George Rudy
Alpacas of Crabapple Ridge
New Bloomfield, Pa.
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box cars

534 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  11:09:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What type of cutter do you use in the dremel?

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

104 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  11:48:57 AM  Show Profile  Send Lani s Alpacas a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Ken I believe you use a Diamond wheel and Rachel what do you use to help sedate them if needed, how much and how soon before you start?

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1401 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  8:13:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit llamapelli's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We use the aluminum oxide grinding stone that is sort of bullet-shaped. Takes the tooth down in a heartbeat. We haven't had to retrim any of our llama's teeth yet, although I know some alpaca folks have had to. I've gotten in the habit of glancing at them now and again. We sedate our's, too, but use the vet. I won't sedate my own, because you never know how much they will need or how they will react to it.

Melanie McMurry
Anasazi Alpacas & Kokopelli Llamas
Gladesville, WV
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Mary Jane

1152 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2008 :  9:31:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mary Jane's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We do ours at shearing time while they are already restrained. One person holds the towel in the mouth while the other uses the dremel. We purchased a rope dog toy to try next shearing season. We also have both the diamond wheel and the cone bits. The diamond wheel works well to take of very large excesses and the cone does a good job of shaping and smoothing the edges, or for teeth that are excessively long.
Mary Jane

Land of Legends Alpacas
2653 Swans Road
Newark, OH 43055
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