Pedal to the Metal Nursed Back to Health
At the Zoology Foundation, we believe in rescuing and caring for animals. We possess a detailed knowledge of animal- and species-specific behavior, allowing us to provide the quality care these animals need. It was this knowledge that alerted us when one of our alpacas, named Pedal to the Metal, was feeling a little off.
Fortunately, we were able to figure out what was wrong with her with the help from the folks at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and now she is doing great again.
Odd Behavior Leads to Serious Concerns
We were first concerned about Pedal to the Metal when she started showing some strange behaviors. She wasn’t coming up to the fence when we offered grain to the herd, and she would lay down with her head in the snow. She would even let staff walk up and touch her. Although friendly, our alpacas prefer not to be touched unless absolutely necessary.
So we decided to do a basic TPR evaluation (temperature, pulse, and respiration). All the measurements seemed a bit low, but at first weren’t too worrisome. We kept an eye on her. She didn’t improve, so we called her vet at Abbe Hills Animal Hospital. The vet took the same measurements, which still came up a little low. In addition, the vet took a blood sample to see if that would give us a clue to what was going on.
We also decided to isolate Pedal to the Metal along with a friend in a private shed. This we hoped would let us monitor her eating, and also help her keep comfortable while we waited for results from her blood test.
When next we did a TPR test, we heard a heart murmur. Instead of the normal “lub-dub” sound, it sounded like a sloshy washing machine. We informed her vet and together we decided that she needed a more comprehensive evaluation.
To get this, we contacted CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and made an appointment.
A Gut-Wrenching Situation
At CSU, they took good care of Pedal to the Metal. They treated her with IV fluids and vitamins to help her feel better. They figured out the root cause of her problem: inadequate gut bacteria. It was likely caused by not eating or drinking enough during the snowstorms that kept hitting us throughout March.
We all depend on gut bacteria to help us digest our food, and too few bacteria or the introduction of a foreign bacterium can make us feel ill. However, for pseudoruminants like alpaca, this is especially important. Grass and other plant tissues can be hard to digest, and without the help of their gut bacteria, pseudoruminants can’t get enough nutrition from their food.
When they discovered this, people at CSU performed a transfaunation. This is when you take rumen juice—the solution from one of their stomachs—from a healthy animal and give it to a sick one. This lets the sick one replenish their gut bacteria.
Thanks to this procedure, Pedal to the Metal is back to her chipper, energetic self and she’s happy to be back with the herd.
Compassion and Caring for All Creatures
At the Zoology Foundation animal sanctuary, we know that it’s not enough to rescue animals from bad situations. We want to make sure they are living their best lives in our care. When one of our animals seems off, we spring into action and figure out what’s wrong with them.
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