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The Digestive System of the Llama and Alpaca

The Digestive System of the Llama and Alpaca

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The Digestive System of the Llama and Alpaca

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  1. The Digestive System of the Llama and Alpaca Dr. Melissa Bruski Dr. Christine Malinowski

  2. Normal Digestive System Unique Characteristics • Foregut fermentation • Rumination

  3. The Upper GI • Lips • Tongue • Nares

  4. The Upper GI • Teeth • Incisors • Cheek Teeth • Llamas vs. Alpacas

  5. GI “Compartments” • Nomenclature = C1, C2, & C3 • C1 • Cranial sac • Caudal sac • C2

  6. GI “Compartments” • C3 • Tubular and glandular • pH changes • Permanent & nonpermanent folds • Contraction cycles • Duration ~2 minutes each

  7. Lower GI Components I’m supposed to eat this?? • Adaptions to poor feed • Urea recycling • Nutrient absorption • Overfeeding is dependent on the quality of forage

  8. Lower GI Components • Small intestine • Almost 12 m long • Cecum is midline running into pelvic inlet (10 cm x 5 cm) • Large intestine • Spiral w/ many coils • Diameter from 5 cm  2 cm • Colon

  9. Signs of GI Disease • anorexia • dysphagia • regurgitation • emesis • abdominal distension • ileus • atony • colic

  10. Anorexia • Internal factors • oral or pharyngeal ulcers • dental pain • colic • gastritis • External factors • unsuitable feed • psychologic ostracism

  11. Dysphagia • Presents as: • drooling of saliva • retention of feed in the oral cavity • fetid odor originating from the oral cavity • gagging/retching

  12. Dysphagia • Due to: • pharyngitis/esophagitis • pharyngeal abscesses or tumors • esophageal obstruction • stomach overload • bloat • congenital defects • choanal atresia • cleft soft palate

  13. Abdominal Distension • Causes: • excessive fat • excessive gas • accumulation of feces • advanced pregnancy • A thorough physical will help determine the cause. • A thorough rectal is not possible.

  14. Ileus • Dynamic • spastic • constriction around feces • paralytic • intrinsic disorder of GI motility • Mechanical • peritoneal adhesions • tumors • torsions • internal hernias

  15. Ileus • Post-operatively • peritonitis • ischemia • overstretching • ingesta • gas

  16. Regurgitation • May be voluntary • threat • defense • Esophageal or laryngopharyngeal stimulation • Passive • anesthesia • recumbancy

  17. Emesis • Due to the elongated soft palate it is very common for ingesta to pass into the nasal cavity. • rhinitis • obstruction • aspiration pneumonia • Causes: • C1 overload • gastritis • diaphragmatic hernia • partial esophageal obstruction • poisonous plant ingestion

  18. Stomach Atony • Usually affects C1-C2 • Causes: • grain overload • indigestion • feed changes • prolonged antibiotic therapy • spoiled feed • gastric ulcers • obstruction

  19. Stomach Atony • Presents as: • decreased or complete cessation of food consumption • loss of body condition • depression • may see other GI signs • Diagnosis: • Lack of C1 sounds

  20. Stomach Atony • Treatment: • treat primary disease • supportive care • 3-5 days of anorexia may cause death of rumen flora so transfaunation may become necessary.

  21. Transfaunation • 0.5-1L of camelid C1, or strained sheep or cow, rumen contents is administered to aid in regrowth of rumen flora.

  22. Colic • very stoic about pain • signs: • teeth grinding • rolling • kicking at belly • anorexia • depression • pained facial expression

  23. Ulcers • usually a secondary problem • most common in the acid secreting distal portion of C3 and proximal duodenum • may be partial or complete thickness

  24. Ulcers • Presents with: • decreased food consumption • intermittent to severe colic • depression • May also have: • secondary pneumonia • peritonitis

  25. Ulcers • Etiology: • unknown • stress?? • Diagnosis • no good pre-mortem test available

  26. Ulcers • Treatment: • Resolve primary problem • Stress reduction • Sucralfate • Omeprazole • H-2 blockers • cimetidine/ranitidine • Supportive • fluid therapy • prophylactic antibiotics

  27. Selected Bibliography • Fowler, Murray E., DVM. Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids: Llama, Alpaca, Vicuna, Guanaco, 1st edition. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989. • http://www.mazuri.com/llamalink.htm • http://www.purdyvet.com • http://www.merckvetmanual.com • Johnson, LaRue W. Update on llama medicine. Philadelphia : Saunders, 1994.

  28. ? ? Questions? ? ? ? ? ?