A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 1, 2009

A Pregnant Connection?


Sometimes it seems as if a pregnancy can spark other health concerns.  Certainly I have heard of how the hormones of pregnancy can accelerate a cancer something you hate to think about but from time to time it does occur.


Our Chai had some health issues during her last pregnancy, first a facial abscess and then a steady but mysterious weight loss.  The abscess cleared up over time and like many abscesses took a while to heal up.  I think just the combination of having an alpaca out in the elements while trying to heal an open and draining abscess makes for a long recovery.   Our vet has always advised against covering an abscess, instead preferring to leave it open to drain, he has also assured us that abscesses in livestock just take time.


To me Chai’s abscess was a signal from her body that perhaps she was struggling a little with the demands placed on it.  When she started to steadily lose weight we became more concerned.  We have had cancer appear in alpacas before and hoped that wasn’t the case with Chai.  Our vet examined Chai and ran some bloodwork on her but could find nothing to indicate what the problem was.  Chai’s amylase levels were a little high but not enough to cause concern.  In basic terms Amylase is an enzyme produced by the pancreas that contributes to digestion of food, so Chai’s weight loss could be connected to her amylase levels.


There are various conditions that can cause high amylase levels but looking at the total picture of Chai’s bloodwork our vet did not see anything significant.  To be on the safe side our vet suggested we put Chai on a course of antibiotics, if nothing else they would help with her abscess and maybe rectify whatever was causing her weight loss.    Our vet also suggested that whatever the problem was with Chai it may be related to pregnancy.


In time the antibiotics worked and Chai started to gain weight again, her cria was born and was healthy and beautiful.  In view of Chai’s situation we decided to give her a break before we bred her back again, our thought process being we should allow Chai’s body to regain full strength and health prior to imposing another strain on it.


Now Chai is pregnant and due to have a cria in June, she is about at the stage of pregnancy she was when she started with her facial abscess during her previous pregnancy – maybe as our vet said this problem is pregnancy related.


This time we are taking a more pro-active course of action with Chai, while I prefer not to give antibiotics during pregnancy, we feel this is a case when the use of the antibiotic is preferable to not using it.  We don’t want Chai to start losing weight as she did before, perhaps if we can catch whatever this is early enough we can keep Chai as healthy as possible.


We will be monitoring Chai’s weight and body score regularly from now on too.  She is a big girl and for now body scores well, but in view of our experience last year it will be good to monitor her for the rest of her pregnancy.  An alpaca’s weight can be a great indicator that hidden issues may be going on. 


Chai will also be treated to some photonic red light treatments to help boost her immune system and her diet will be carefully monitored.  As always we will be in communication with our vet about Chai too and will take his advice as to any tests we should run or treatments we should follow.


Fingers crossed Chai’s abcess is only that and come June she will present us with another beautiful cria to join our herd.



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