Photo by Val Newell of The Green Alpaca
A friend of mine was recently dealing with a cria whose temperature she couldn’t get to go down and stay down. After thinking about it, I realized there are several reasons why a cria might have a high temperature, particularly in the summer. A brief discussion on the possible causes of elevated cria temperature follows:
In Alabama all summer we have been dealing with unseasonably hot/humid weather, the kind that combine for those nasty heat indexes we don’t usually see until August. So heat stress is going to be suspect number one for the poor cria. However you have to look at the age of the cria and the situation as well. If it’s not heat stress, or if heat stress measures aren’t doing the trick, lets look at the other possible culprits.
In my experience newborn cria who have difficulty regulating their temperature may do so as a result of neurological damage. When that has happened to my cria it has been related to birth trauma. At least that was our assessment along with our vet’s. It can also have to do with prematurity or dysmaturity. However, whatever the cause the result is a cria who can get a high temp in the sun, then when brought into an air conditioned room can have that temp go much lower. In other words you have an animal whose human caretaker has to control it’s temp because it cannot do so on its own. In cases of neurological problems like this, a product called DMSO can be helpful. Using gloves we put DMSO* on the cria’s ears and top of head/behind the ears. Also apply to underbelly between the legs, avoiding umbilical and genitals. Doing this several times a day can stimulate brain connections and it can be very helpful with bringing around a cria with neurological symptoms of any kind.
Another possibility is that the cria may have an infection of some sort that is causing her to spike a fever. When this happens to our cria we usually consult with our vets and have the cria put on antibiotics to cover them just in case they have an infection (such as pneumonia) and to prevent/treat a possible septicemia which might take them to alpaca heaven.
Just a few thoughts on crias and temps from this blasted hot climate on a hot summer day. What are your thoughts alpaca lovers?
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* You can get DMSO from your vet. If you get it on your skin while applying, you will taste the stinky stuff for awhile. Not pleasant, so be careful with it.