Health and Veterinary Maintenance of Llamas

Llamas are naturally hardy and healthy. There are no endemic diseases that are routinely passed within the population. They can be susceptible to environmental pathogens and atypical infections. Clostridium is an environmental pathogen that is routinely vaccinated against as it is ubiquitous in their normal ranges. Random infections should be managed individually and typical antibiotic regimens are normally effective. Parasites, both internal and external, are common and should be ideally managed with species/area specific programs to prevent constant, potentially fulminant infestations. If llamas are kept in confinement or on non-abrasive soil, routine clipping of toenails will be required.

Llamas are susceptible to injury, but have a low incidence when compared to other species within the same environment. A low-key disposition, controlled reactions, athleticism, and an innate sense of self-preservation keep injuries to a minimum. The most common injuries encountered are to the feet and eyes, but both areas are relatively easy to treat and the animals heal quickly. Cutting the males fighting teeth (ruminant canines) is mandatory to prevent serious injuries during territorial battles. Llamas are very stoic and suffer more severe injuries with amazing tolerance. Fighting teeth can be quickly cut using OB wire on a conscious, restrained male without complication or impact lasting beyond administration of the procedure.

Territorial sensitivity is a complicating issue when handling llamas for veterinary procedures. Restraint is an issue that needs to be addressed, particularly in untrained llamas. A restraint chute is the most efficient way to effect restraint. General or local anesthesia are also viable means of controlling animals during veterinary or maintenance procedures.

Permanent identification of llamas for herd management and proof of ownership is best effected by implanting microchips that can be read as needed for positive ID.

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