Warning Signs of Ilness - Know Your Llamas!

Llama Herd

(Know your llamas behavior patterns well - - further examination by vet is in order.) Remember, it is better to overreact and be embarrassed by calling a vet unnecessarily than letting a problem develop too far. Gather as much information as possible to inform the vet of problems before you call because some situations need immediate attention, while others can wait a bit. the more information made available to the vet on the first call, the easier it will be to assess the situation and there could be things you could be doing until the vet gets there. Always try to be calm and reasonable to your llama -- this is very important!

Watch for these Warning Signs:

1) Noticeable differences in behavior, coordination, weight loss, reluctance to rise, lethargy or dullness.

2) Refuses food - - with this watch water intake, dehydration could result. Confine separately in order to monitor and record amounts of food and water intake. If needed, mark the water bucket and measure the food.

3) Raspy (noisy) and/or labored breathing could be due to heat or it could be pneumonia. Assuming pneumonia, immediate attention from your vet is required.

4) Elevated temperature, always take the temperature rectally before calling the vet. A digital thermometer is best. Normal temperature ranges from 99 to 102 degrees, depending on the ambient or outside temperature and the time of year.

5) Failure to urinate or void feces. Confine separately so this can be more accurately observed. Watch for constipation and straining. This could go into a rectal prolapse (like a rose bud.)

6) Diarrhea - - confine separately so this can be monitored and watch the water intake so the llama does not get dehydrated.

7) Colic - - pain in the belly. The llama will have a slightly arched-up back and will be unable to find a comfortable position and will be getting up and down slowly, groaning, grinding of teeth, kicking and looking at belly. You need the attention of a vet if any of these symptoms persist for more than an hour. If this is a dystocia, failure to deal with it can result in exhaustion of the dam or even death of dam and/or cria.

8) Excessive discharge from eyes - - tell vet the color of the discharge. gentle flushing with clean water to cleanse area.

9) Seizure or convulsion, call vet immediately.

10) Bleeding, laceration, puncture, abrasion. Can be tended too until the vet arrives, if stitches are needed, keep injured area moist.

11) Broken limb, inability to stand with any weight on that limb, call vet immediately.

12) Swollen face, possible snake bite, immediate attention by a vet is needed. Keep llama calm, watch breathing, if nose is closing, insert small rubber tube and tape in place without obstructing the nostrils.

13) Coughing or drooling, could indicate choking on feed - - must have attention AT ONCE. Massage at the base of the neck by collarbone and allow llama to lower head and vomit repeatedly until vet checks the animal out. No feed for 2 days, only feed hay.

14) Inability to rise, needs attention from vet. To move a downed llama to shelter, out of the sun or bad weather, you can transport them with a large tarp or board. Get them where they can be more comfortable.

15) Heat Stress. Watch for increased breathing and heart rate; open mouth breathing and salivation; uncoordinated; high temperature. Take temperature of llama before cooling down and wait for one hour after cool down and take it again to see if you need to keep repeating water cool down. Wetting the wool on the back and sides of the llama will not help, if they have not been sheared. Hose the underbelly and rectum area with cold water for at least 15 to 20 minutes each session. Call the vet - - this could go into nerve damage or pneumonia. Shear those llamas! When warm weather starts - - provide shelter (shade), lots of fans and lots of cold clean water to drink. Maybe a sprinkler or two to play in or very large kiddie pools.

16) Poison, do not try to make your llama vomit and don't give water, call the vet immediately!

17) Hypothermia, this can be most dangerous - - uncoordinated and skin and feet feel cold to the touch. Breathing slows, provide shelter and call the vet. Start warming the llama!

18) Swollen jaw is usually an abscess tooth. This looks like a cheek full of cud from the outside. Round, tender, puss filled raised area of skin, needs to be lanced when it is soft and flushed with saline and antibiotic daily.

We welcome visitors by appointment , call or write
Jack and Tracy Pearson:
Pearson Pond Ranch & Llama Co.
242 Llama Lane (Charles Lane), #6017
Ellijay, GA 30540
Phone: (706) 276-3658
Fax: (706) 276-3680