CARING FOR ALPACAS IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION
Caring for alpacas in an emergency situation is something every alpaca owner should be prepared to do.
When an injury occurs, assess the animal so you can decide how to proceed.
- Are they breathing?
- Do they have a heartbeat?
- Are they bleeding?
- Do they have a broken bone?
- Is the animal able to walk?
When caring for alpacas in an emergency, start with the life threatening problems first. If an animal is not breathing, stopping the bleeding will do no good. Do your ABC's first.
- Airway - do they have an open, unobstructed airway?
- Breathing - if the airway is open and unobstructed, are they breathing?
- Circulation - do they have a heartbeat?
You can do
The instructions in the link for animal CPR use a dog but will apply to most other animals.
Sometimes just opening the airway will restore breathing. If your animal has just gone down, CPR is worth a try. If the animal has not been breathing for 10 minutes then don't bother starting CPR. If the animal is still warm and you did not witness it go down and are unsure how long it has been, go ahead and try CPR.
If the animal is breathing and has a heartbeat, move on to the next most threatening problem.
Probably the next most life threatening problem in caring for alpacas during an emergency is profuse bleeding. It must be stopped. Place a pressure wrap on the wound. If you need to stop the bleeding immediately, use your hand for pressure until a wrap can be obtained.
Have the vet check any laceration deep enough that you can see muscle or fat. Do not put lanolin or petrolium based antiseptics on the wound. They may not be able to be cleaned out, preventing suture closure of the wound. Use a water soluble ointment if you feel you must apply an antiseptic. You can rinse a wound with clean water to remove debris.
Keep the animal calm, but be careful that you don't get injured in the process. Injured animals tend to bite. If the animal is calm where you found him, leave him there until help arrives.
Does the animal have a broken bone? The animal should not be moved until the limb is stabilized. If the alpaca is thrashing about, try to calm it and stop the thrashing because they can damage aretries, veins, and nerves, and they can bleed to death.
We live in an area where rattle snakes reside. Alpacas and our livestock guard dog, put their nose down and sniff things they are checking out. So their noses become a strike zone. While the rattlesnake venom might not kill them, the closure of their airway due to swelling could.
We keep plastic tubing on hand to place in their nostril before the swelling closes off the airway. Make sure it is stiff enough that it will not collapse under pressure of the swollen tissues.
Caring for alpacas during an emergency means you have to be prepared before that emergency even occurs. You can deal with the situation much better and calmer knowing you have what you need on hand. Discuss with your vet the necessary supplies you should have on hand for your particular farm and area.
Some basic supplies are listed below:
- Quilt wrap
- Vet-wrap or ace 2" and 4"
- Stretch gauze roll 2" and 4"
- Gauze pads
- White tape
- Telfa pads
- Hydrogen Peroxice
- Nitrofurazone ointment
- Provodone-iodine ointment
- Triple antibiotic eye ointment (no steroids)
- Bandage scissors
- Red rubber feeding trube
- Rubber gloves
- Tackle box
- Syringes (to include a 60cc catheter tip syringe)
Keep all of your Vets information by your phone. You can get very rattled when your beloved animal is badly injured. Try to stay calm.
Relay this information to the vet:
- Your name
- Nature of the injury
- Time passed since injury
- Symptoms (seizures, etc.)
- Steps already taken (CPR, etc.)
- Type of animal (alpaca, dog. etc)
- Is a poison involved? What was ingested?
- Any relevant medical history for this animal (diabetes, etc)
Help your vet be prepared for the emergency. The more prepared
everyone is, the better chance that caring for alpacas in an emergency will have a good outcome.
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