— The Openherd Team

Berlanta Alpacas

Alpacas from the Heart of the Tularosa Basin

Rose & Larry Wininger
40 NW Bookout RdTularosa, NM 88352

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Georgia's Troubles or Alpacas Go Downhill Fast! Day 1-10

Georgia before getting sick

Georgia before getting sick

Our beautiful girl!

Our beautiful girl!

I've never before written a blog. However, I feel that Georgia's story might be helpful to a lot of alpaca breeders.

A week after shearing, on April 9, while feeding the animals, I noticed that Georgia, who is usually the first at the gate when I entered the girls' pen, was hanging back. After I had put out all the beet pulp and hay, I saw her sitting in the middle of the pen. It looked like her right upper lip was swollen, her right ear kind of droopy and she was lightly bobbing her head. Since she didn't seem to make an effort to eat at all, I went back into the pen, chased her up and made sure that she was eating. I stood for 20 minutes or more to make sure of her really eating and not just pushing the hay around and nibbling one piece of hay for my sake. Alpacas are great actors!!!

Wednesday morning, she seemed just fine. Being right at the gate, eating out of the bucket! In the evening it was the same. In the evening I noticed that her right lower lip was drooping. So I went on Facebook to find out, what other alpaca breeders thought (even though I thought she might have had a stroke). The answers were either an insect sting or maybe something to do with eating alfalfa. I really wasn't worried too much yet since she was still eating.

I feed at 5 a.m. when it is still dark and Georgia as well as her daughter and many of the girls really don't like eating that early in the morning (they just aren't morning persons!), so I really didn't think much about Georgia staying inside the shed and not wanting to come out and eat. Especially since it was close to freezing that morning. In the evening, however, I saw that she was doing worse. It looked like she had lost quite a bit of weight again and she didn't want to eat. I left a message with the vet and asked her to call back.

I called her again on Friday and explained the symptoms. She thought it might be an insect (bee) or spider sting and she told me to inject her with Dexamethason for three days, which should take care of the nerve interruption which made her lip droop. We also gave her ProBios.

I gave it until the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Dex didn't seem to help Georgia had lost weight again. Now on Tuesday, she also started breathing through her left nostril and it sounded like a person on oxygen using an on-demand bottle - pfffffft, every time she exhaled. I contacted the vet and explained the symptoms to her. While we were talking to her, we noticed that Georgia wasn't able to blink her right eye and she had a cloudy spot on her lense. The vet told us to cover the eye, so that her eye would be protected from the wind and dust and she made an appointment for Georgia for the next day. We used duct tape and covered on half of a fly mask with it and put it on her, which made her wobble and be unsteady on her legs for a while. Meanwhile the girl would also try to drink from the hose when I filled the water buckets. But the water just seemed to run right back out of her mouth. We tried to feed her some mash but it seemed that she didn't/couldn't swallow. It was a horrible night for me! I was praying that she would survive the night. She had lost sooo much weight!

On Wednesday before we took her to the vet, she was sitting in front of the water bucket, sticking her mouth into it but not drinking. She was thirsty but couldn't swallow the water! It looked as if she had had a second stroke! When the vet saw her, she thought that it wasn't a stroke at all but that Georgia has an inner ear infection that is affecting the nerves of her face and the swallow reflex. She drew blood and kept her with her. Right now, Georgia is on IV's to rehydrate her plus antibiotics. Today she was holding her own and we are hoping for the best. The vet gave her a 50/50 chance of survival!