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    Potential Llama Health Challenges

    a llama eating in a field with other llamas

    Updated July 28, 2021

    When it comes to llamas, if you want to ensure that you treat any health challenges as early as possible, you’ll have to spend a lot of time with the herd, so slight changes and symptoms are more apparent to you. By conducting regular full body health evaluations, you’ll be able to know what healthy looks and feels (and smells!) like, and when you should be concerned.

    Animal Healthcare Disclaimer

    This is not an exhaustive list of everything that can happen to a llama, but can help you get a sense of what challenges a resident under your care may face in their lifetime. If you believe a resident is facing a health issue, always discuss with a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. Reading about health issues does not qualify you to diagnose your residents!

    Issues By Afflicted Area

    Appetite/Drinking Changes: Anaplasmosis, Anemia, CL, Coccidiosis, Enterotoxemia, Internal Parasites, Leptospirosis, Listeriosis, Megaesophagus, Stomach Ache, Upper Respiratory Infection, Urinary Blockage

    Blood: Anaplasmosis, Anemia, Anthrax, Barber Pole, Coccidiosis, Internal Parasites

    Breathing/Mouth: Abscesses, Anaplasmosis, Barber Pole, Bottle Jaw, Listeriosis, Lungworms, Slaframine Toxicosis (“Slobbers”), Sore Mouth, Upper Respiratory Infection, White Muscle Disease

    Droppings: Anaplasmosis, Coccidiosis, Internal Parasites, Johne’s Disease, Leptospirosis, Tapeworms, Urinary Blockage

    Energy/Movement: Anaplasmosis, Anemia, Anthrax, Arthritis, Barber Pole, Dropped Pasterns, CL, Coccidiosis, Enterotoxemia, Foot Rot, Internal Parasites, Leptospirosis, Listeriosis, Mastitis, Mycoplasma haemolamae,  Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis (Meningeal Worm, Deer Worm, Brain Worm), Slaframine Toxicosis (“Slobbers”), Stomach Ache, Tapeworms, Upper Respiratory Infection, Urinary Blockage, White Muscle Disease

    Eyes: Anemia, Barber Pole, Pink Eye

    Feet: Arthritis, Dropped Pasterns, Foot Rot, Mange

    Head/Neck: Abscesses, CL, Listeriosis, Ringworm, Sore Mouth

    Legs/Joints: Arthritis, Dropped Pasterns, Mange,  Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis (Meningeal Worm, Deer Worm, Brain Worm), Ringworm

    Skin/Coat: Abscesses, Anemia, Arthritis, CL, Lice, Mange, Sore Mouth,

    Social Changes: Anaplasmosis, Anemia, Anthrax, Arthritis, Barber Pole, Listeriosis, Mycoplasma haemolamae, Stomach Ache, Tapeworms, Upper Respiratory Infection, White Muscle Disease

    Udder: Abscesses, CL, Lice, Mastitis, Sore Mouth

    Weight: Anaplasmosis, Anemia, Arthritis, Barber Pole, CL, Coccidiosis, Internal Parasites, Johne’s Disease, Listeriosis, Megaesophagus, Mycoplasma haemolamae, Tapeworms


    In llamas, abscesses refer to lumps, boils, or bulges, typically near their neck or shoulder, but with the possibility to form anywhere. Abscesses can grow until they burst and secrete pus. Abscesses can form for a variety of reasons, from infections, to poor wound treatment, to incorrectly performed needle injections. Mouth abscesses can form when a llama bites their cheek. Abscesses can also form as a result of Caseous Lymphadenitis, a highly contagious condition (see more below). If you have a female llama who is currently nursing a cria and they develop an abscess on their udder, the cria should not feed on the udder until the abscess’ cause is diagnosed to ensure an infection is not transmitted. In the event of an abscess, it should be first diagnosed by a veterinarian, and typically it should be lanced and cleaned early on (any abscess on the face or neck should be treated by a veterinarian to minimize risk of major bleeding). It is possible your veterinarian may walk you through the steps to address an abscess. If they do, be sure to discard or sterilize anything that comes into contact with the pus and monitor the wound for up to a month. You may want to isolate the llama depending on the abscess size or location for this time period. You should get a sample of the pus cultured by a lab to determine the source of infection to prevent other llamas from possibly getting infected. Certain diseases will require additional care and treatment of the abscessed llama. (Back to top)


    This is a rare red blood cell infection in llamas. It is caused by a blood parasite that is typically transmitted by insects such as ticks and flies. It may be possible to also transmit the disease in the womb. Anaplasmosis presents itself as anemia, fever, and yellowing mucus membranes. An afflicted llama might also lose weight, suffer from depression, dehydration, constipation, and lack of appetite. A fully recovered llama might remain weak for the rest of their life. If you suspect Anaplasmosis, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are medicinal treatments available for Anaplasmosis. (Back to top)


    Anemia in llamas can be characterized by pale skin, especially a pale color in the inner membrane of their lower eyelid. A healthy llama has a bright pink eyelid. If it is white, they may be very anemic. An anemic llama might also be more lethargic, have a dull or shabby coat, lose weight, or stop eating as frequently. Anemia could be a result of parasites or parasitic disease (especially Anaplasmosis or Barber Pole), lice, fleas, ticks, blood loss, or poor diet. Advanced anemia in llamas can lead to Bottle Jaw (see below). Anemic llamas can be treated with high protein food on a temporary basis, as well as additional minerals or iron supplements, probiotics, and vitamin B-12 to help restore red blood cells. An extremely anemic llama may require a blood transfusion. If a llama seems to have anemia rather suddenly, you must test them for Mycoplasma haemolamae, which can be fatal for llamas if untreated. You can test for anemia in llamas with the FAMACHA system(Back to top)


    Anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis spores, which can lie dormant in soil across the world for many years. The bacteria can activate and contaminate soil and grass in certain weather conditions, especially wet and cool weather followed by hot and dry weather. Animals that graze are susceptible to the disease after eating contaminated grass. Symptoms include depression, incoordination, staggering, trembling, convulsions, excitement, bleeding, and unfortunately, typically death. If you suspect a llama is suffering from anthrax, you must contact your veterinarian immediately. Anthrax can quickly spread to other animals from the infected llama, including humans. Confirmations of anthrax must be reported to government officials. If it is treated very early on with antibiotics, it is possible for llamas to survive. There is also a vaccine available for anthrax. (Back to top)


    Like most animals, llamas can become prone to arthritis as they get older. Arthritis can also be caused by injury, infection, malnutrition, and a lack of space to move freely. Symptoms include less motion, laying down more often, weight loss, shabby coat, strange gait, and swollen joints. Treatment for arthritis differs depending on the root cause, so if you believe that a llama is suffering from arthritis, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. For arthritis caused by old age, there are a number of llama-safe anti-inflammatory supplements and NSAIDs such as Meloxicam available to ease swelling and pain. For a more longterm solution for arthritis, you can administer a Chondroprotective agent such as Adequan to help repair joint cartilage and soothe inflammation. We have also seen success treating arthritis pains with more natural remedies such as Botswella (also known as Indian Frankincense) to successfully lower inflammation as well as anecdotally, CBD oil. Make extra sure that their environment is as arthritis-friendly as can be, minimizing steep grades or long walks to food or water if you can! (Back to top)

    Barber Pole

    Barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus, sometimes called wireworm) is a gastrointestinal roundworm that can cause serious disease in sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas. While other gastrointestinal parasites can cause illness in small ruminants and camelids, barber pole worm is especially dangerous because it is a blood-sucking parasite that has the potential to cause life-threatening anemia. To further complicate things, anthelmintic resistance (resistance to dewormers) is a serious and growing issue, though the degree of resistance and to which drugs worms are resistant will vary region by region and also property to property. For more information on barber pole worm, including ways to slow the development of anthelmintic resistance, check out our in depth resource, here. (Back to top)

    Bottle Jaw

    Bottle Jaw presents itself as a very swollen lower jaw in a llama. This is caused by extreme anemia in the llama resulting in watery tissue in their jaw, and requires immediate intervention to reverse their anemia, which could be life-threatening. (Back to top)

    Bovine Virus Diarrhea

    BVD is a contagious viral infection caused by Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV). While cows are the natural host for this virus, camelids, and other species can be affected too. Though the name suggests gastrointestinal disease, BVDV can affect multiple body systems, resulting in respiratory, reproductive, circulatory, musculoskeletal, immune, organ, or neurological health challenges as well as gastrointestinal issues. Symptoms may include fever, diarrhea, mouth sores, anorexia, abortion, birth defects, and ill thrift. BVDV can cause subclinical disease or acute illness, but the most concerning characteristic of this virus is its ability to create persistently infected (PI) individuals. Crias are often persistent infection individuals and a common cause of herd infections. They are infected as fetuses and shed the disease after birth, spreading it to other individuals. Afflicted crias may have symptoms or appear perfectly healthy. Those who are acutely infected with BVDV may be asymptomatic, but the infection causes immunosuppression, putting them at risk of developing other infections. There is no treatment for BVDV infection, but depending on the severity and clinical signs, individuals may require supportive care and broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. While there are vaccines for cows, both live and inactivated vaccines, they are not currently recommended for camelid species due to a lack of data on safety and efficacy. Learn more about BVD with our resource here.

    Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL)

    CL is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis which can cause localized enlarged pain-free abscesses on a llama’s skin, lymph nodes, and organs. External CL refers to abscesses on the skin, which can become internal through blood or the lymphatic system, moving on to affect a llama’s lymph nodes and organs. If it spreads internally, CL can affect a llama’s lungs, liver, and kidneys.  If a llama has an abscess on their skin, you should separate them from other llamas, goats, and sheep, and have your veterinarian culture the abscess’ pus, which can highly accurately determine whether it is CL. If the llama tests positive for CL, the pus in their abscesses can spread the disease to other residents. Other symptoms of CL can include anemia, lack of appetite, weight loss, and fever. It is possible (though very rare) for CL to spread to humans, so it’s important to maintain good biosecurity when handling llamas suspected of having CL. (Back to top)


    Coccidia are parasites which can damage a llama’s small intestinal lining. Most adult llamas are infected and immune, but much younger llamas are at risk of fatal infestations. An acute infection can lead to anemia, dehydration, fever, hair loss, weight loss, stunted growth, and bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea. Usually Coccidiosis is a result of overcrowding, stress, and poor sanitation. The best prevention is keeping the llama’s living space clean and uncrowded! There are medicines available to treat infections. As a preventative measure, you should have a lab perform a fecal test on llamas every three months to ensure that they are not facing a dangerous parasitic infection. (Back to top)

    Dropped Pasterns

    When a llama walks on their pasterns rather than their feet, typically this is because they are experiencing foot pain, either from arthritis, foot rot, or mange. It can also be a symptom of excess body weight. (Back to top)


    Enterotoxemia is a range of diseases that can affect a llama. The most well-known type of Enterotoxemia, “Pulpy Kidney Disease”, occurs when a llama gets indigestion or overeats. If a feeding source changes suddenly or a llama begins eating too much, a common organism in their gut begins to reproduce quickly and produces a toxin which can cause uncoordinated movement, convulsions, then death. Caught early, Enterotoxemia can be treated with CD antitoxin. There is also a vaccination available to prevent it. (Back to top)

    Foot Rot

    Foot rot refers to a bacterial infection of one or more feet of a llama, which can come on from chronically damp or muddy walking conditions for the llama as well as a zinc deficiency. A symptomatic llama may be less mobile or even exhibit signs of lameness, have swelling between their toes, lumpy foot pads, and have an elevated internal temperature. An untreated case of foot rot quite literally begins to rot, leaving a very bad smelling creamy discharge. To treat, you must clean and carefully remove the rotten parts of the foot that you can, and treat the affected feet with iodine and antibiotics if severe. Although llamas do not suffer from contagious foot rot like goats and sheep, the bacteria in llama foot rot can be contagious for up to 7 days. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect foot rot, because it can cause tissue and nerve damage. (Back to top)

    Internal Parasites

    There are a number of internal parasites that can affect a llama’s quality of life, and unfortunately a number of internal parasites that are resistant to common treatments. If a llama is suffering from an internal parasite, it is likely a strongyle, but there are other, more dangerous parasites such as lungworms, barber pole, and coccidia. Common parasite symptoms can include lethargy, diarrhea, clumped stools, weight loss, and anemia. As a preventative measure, you should have a lab perform a fecal test on llamas every three months to ensure that they are not facing a dangerous parasitic infection and have appropriate treatment policies in place for infected llamas. (Back to top)

    Johne’s Disease

    Also known as paratuberculosis, Johne’s disease is a fatal contagious gastrointestinal disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). It is believed that all species of ruminants and camelids are susceptible to this infection, with young individuals being most vulnerable. The primary mode of transmission is the fecal-oral route, but it can also be transmitted via colostrum and milk. For more information about this challenging disease, including information regarding diagnostics and ways to mitigate disease spread, check out our full resource on Johne’s disease here. (Back to top)


    Leptospirosis is a contagious bacterial disease that can affect most farmed animals as well as humans. Symptoms include fever, depression, lack of appetite, blood in urine, diarrhea, and jaundice. It is caused when a llama ingests contaminated food or water, especially from stagnant water. Llamas can become asymptomatic carriers for years and spread the disease by other animals coming into contact with their infected urine. There is a vaccination available. (Back to top)


    Lice infections are very common and very unlikely to cause long term harm to llamas in mild infections. There are a number of llama-safe treatments for lice, but it’s important to begin treatment early on to prevent infestations to get out of control. You should be checking for lice every time you conduct a llama health checkup! (Back to top)


    Listeriosis is the result of an infection caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. In llamas, listeriosis is also known as “circling disease”, as it causes a llama to become weaker on one side of their body, leading them to only be able to walk in circles until they become completely paralyzed and die. Other symptoms include depression, lowered appetite, fever, stumbling, head pulling in one direction, facial paralysis, a loose jaw, and drooling. If you think a llama is suffering from Listeriosis, it’s critical that you get a veterinary evaluation. It can be treated with an intensive regimen of penicillin for up to two weeks. (Back to top)


    Llamas and alpacas can become infected with Dictyocaulus viviparus, which typically infects cows, and D. filaria, which affects sheep and goats. However, these parasites tend to cause less severe disease in llamas and alpacas than in ruminant hosts. Lungworm infections in llamas and alpacas are more common in South America than in North America and some other parts of the world, but should be considered a possibility, especially if you have llamas and alpacas living with or sharing pasture space with ruminants. Both D. viviparus and D. filaria have a direct life cycle. Female Dictyocaulus lay eggs containing larvae in the lungs which are then coughed up, swallowed, and hatch into first-stage larvae before being passed in feces. Larvae develop into infective third-stage larvae on the pasture- how quickly this occurs depends on environmental factors. Infection occurs when infective larvae are ingested while animals graze. The larvae continue their development inside the host and travel to the lungs to start the process again. Signs of lungworm infection include coughing, nasal discharge, and labored breathing, but an infected individual may not show all of these signs at the same time. Secondary infections are possible which could result in fever. Diagnosis of lungworm infections can be difficult. In addition to looking at clinical signs, a fresh fecal sample can be evaluated using the Baermann technique to identify larvae. Fecal samples should be fresh, and it’s best to collect it directly from the rectum. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate anthelmintic treatment and determine if there is a secondary infection that requires treatment. (Back to top)


    Mange is a skin condition caused by a very small mite. Mange presents as flaky and scruffy dandruff-like material on the skin as well as irritation. In more advanced cases, a llama may lose some hair and the underlying skin might become thick and hard. Mange can also affect a llama’s feet, causing itchiness, irritation, and difficulty walking. There are a number of medications available for mange depending on the type and location of the infection. (Back to top)


    Mastitis is inflammation of a llama’s udder, usually as a result of a bacterial udder infection. A llama can have either acute mastitis or chronic mastitis, the latter typically undetected throughout a llama’s life. Acute mastitis presents itself as discolored, dark, swollen, and warm udders. An afflicted llama may not want to walk and might not be able to nurse any young. Mastitis can also be a secondary infection to sore mouth. It is treatable with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. (Back to top)


    A common problem in llamas, Megaesophagus refers to a severely enlarged esophagus. This can lead to weight loss, frequent regurgitation or “frothing” of a llama’s food, and difficulty eating. There is no known treatment beyond supportive care for an afflicted llama. (Back to top)

    Mycoplasma haemolamae

    Typically transmitted by bloodsucking insects, Mycoplasma haemolamae is a blood infection that can affect llamas. Typically, a llama’s immune system with take care of infections, but younger, elderly, and immune system-compromised llamas can be dangerously infected. Symptoms include weight loss, depression, lethargy, anemia, watery blood, stiffness in hindquarters, and collapse. The disease can be fatal if untreated. (Back to top)

    Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis (Meningeal Worm, Deer Worm, Brain Worm)

    Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis (P. tenuis) is a parasitic worm whose natural host is the white-tailed deer. Camelids, sheep, and goats living in areas with white-tailed deer populations can also become infected by this parasite but are considered aberrant, or unnatural hosts. In these species, the parasite can cause significant issues not typically seen in white-tailed deer. Camelids appear to be more sensitive to the infection than sheep and goats, with llamas being the most sensitive unnatural host. This infection typically causes neurological symptoms. In some cases, early signs of infection include standing with a wide stance in the hind legs or weakness in one of both hind legs. These symptoms can then develop in to severe ataxia and hind limb paralysis. Affected individuals may also be seen circling, have a head tilt, or become blind. In some cases there is a sudden onset of severe symptoms rather than a gradual worsening of the condition. Presumptive diagnoses are made based on clinical signs and exposure risk- a fecal test will not detect P. tenuis in unnatural hosts. In some cases, examination of the cerebrospinal fluid may be recommended to help support the presumptive diagnosis, but this requires anesthesia and will not result in a definitive diagnosis. Absolute confirmation of P. tenuis can only be made during a post-mortem examination. Treatment typically includes a combination of multiple dewormers (often at higher and/or more frequent doses than when treating other parasites) and an anti-inflammatory medication. Because of their sensitivity to this infection, prompt treatment of llamas with suspected P. tenuis is imperative. One study found that severity of symptoms was not a reliable indicator of prognosis. Because this infection can have such devastating consequences in llamas and alpacas, some veterinarians may recommend prophylactic treatment- be sure to talk with your veterinarian as this may contribute to the growing issue of parasite resistance. (Back to top)

    Pink Eye

    Pink eye in llamas can be a serious disease, and comes in both infectious and noninfectious forms. Infectious pink eye is caused by either a viral or bacterial disease, sometimes via flies traveling from llama to llama. Early symptoms include eye discharge as well as red and swollen eyes. The cornea of the llama’s eye might become hazy or opaque. It is very important to treat all pink eye early in llamas as it can lead to blindness, and in dire cases, the infection can travel to the llama’s brain and become fatal. A llama with pink eye should be isolated to avoid spreading the disease and kept in a cool, shady location removed from sunlight. Noninfectious pink eye can come from eye abrasions, vitamin A deficiency, toxins, or stings, which can be treated with ointments (or in the case of Vitamin A deficiency, Vitamin A supplementation). Contact a veterinarian if you suspect a llama has pink eye, as there are a number of treatments available depending on the pink eye’s underlying cause. (Back to top)


    Ringworm is actually a fungal infection of a llama, causing a skin lesion that sometimes, but not always, looks like a ring. It is spread in llamas through contact with spores that infect their hair and skin. The infected area loses hair and appears crusty. Typically, a ringworm infection affects a llama’s legs, feet, and face. Treatment involves cleaning off the crust the and application of a topical antifungal cream. Typically a treated infection will begin to improve in a few weeks. (Back to top)

    Slaframine Toxicosis (“Slobbers”)

    Slaframine Toxicosis is caused when llamas ingest forage infected with the fungus Rhizoctonia leguminicola (Black Patch disease). This fungus primarily infects red clover but can infect other legumes as well. Llamas eating infected pasture, hay, or silage typically show signs of slaframine toxicosis within an hour, with the first symptom being excessive salivation (hence, “slobbers”). Slaframine toxicosis can also cause diarrhea, inappetence, colic, frequent urination, tremors, and stiff joints. In most cases, early detection and removal of infected food sources results in symptoms resolving within one to three days, with significant improvement in 24 hours. Higher concentrations or more prolonged exposure to slaframine can result in dehydration, and in very rare instances, death. Plant and forage samples can be tested for Slaframine, but this test tends to be expensive. Instead, it may be easier to look for black patches on the red clover leaves and stems in your pasture or hay. Detoxification of infected pasture and hay is not possible, but there may be strategies you can implement to reduce the levels of slaframine present. Your local cooperative extension office or veterinarian should be able to offer recommendations. (Back to top)

    Sore Mouth (Or, Orf)

    Sore mouth is a viral disease caused by a relative of the chickenpox viral family. It enters a llama through cuts or abrasions of their skin (or through nursing in young llamas) and is highly contagious in both llamas and humans. Sore mouth symptoms include blisters in less hairy parts of the llama’s body, on their lips and mouth, with the blisters eventually becoming scabs. It is especially dangerous in young llamas, who may not be able to properly nurse when infected and can quickly become malnourished. It runs its course in three to four weeks. Afflicted llamas should be isolated during the course of symptoms.  Treatment involves applying approved medicated ointments to sores and thoroughly cleaning anywhere where the affected llama had been spending time. It’s important to ensure that the sores do not develop secondary bacterial infections. Llamas can be carriers of the disease (and spread it to other llamas) without ever showing symptoms, and once a llama has had sore mouth, they are unlikely to ever become symptomatic again (just like humans with chickenpox). (Back to top)

    Stomach Aches (Bloat or Colic)

    Stomach aches in llamas can result from many different causes, some of which are far more dangerous than others. More serious stomach aches can be caused by eating too much grain or eating on a new or rich pasture, such as alfalfa. Symptoms of a dangerous stomach ache includes a distended abdomen, heavy or labored breathing, general signs of discomfort like refusing to eat, kicking at the stomach, teeth grinding, loud vocalizations, lying down with splayed hind legs, standing with a hunched back, strained pooping, and discomfort when their abdomen is touched. If you are concerned that a llama might be suffering from a stomach ache, it’s critical that you contact your veterinarian, as it can be fatal. It’s important that when a llama gets access to a new pasture, they should not be allowed to graze on it freely until their digestive system adjusts to it, especially if the pasture has quick growing plants like clover or alfalfa. You should introduce llamas to the new pasture for up to a week alongside their usual hay, only allowing for a few hours at a time. Secure grain bags from curious llamas, as they are susceptible to overeating and subsequent grain overload if given free access to food stores. Make sure that llamas have access to plenty of fresh water and fiber at all times to prevent stomach aches. (Back to top)


    One of many parasites that affect llamas, tapeworms can be diagnosed by finding yellow to white segments in a llama’s feces. llamas can become resistant to tapeworms relatively early on in life, so they do not pose too great of a health risk. Symptoms can include weight loss, sluggishness, and stomach discomfort. As a preventative measure, you should have a lab perform a fecal test on llamas every three months to ensure that they are not facing a dangerous parasitic infection and have appropriate treatment policies in place for infected llamas. (Back to top)

    Upper Respiratory Infection

    There can be a variety of different illnesses and parasites that can affect a llama’s breathing, nose, windpipe, and lungs. Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, increased body temperature or fever, and loss of appetite. If you suspect a llama may have an upper respiratory infection, it’s important to get an immediate veterinary consultation to determine its cause as some infections are considerably more dangerous and harder to treat than others. (Back to top)

    Urinary Blockage (Or, Urolithiasis)

    Also known as kidney stones (in humans), these stones form when there is a large imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in a llama’s diet, leading to mineral crystals that block a llama from being able to urinate. The most typical case of urinary calculi in llamas comes when a male llama is fed too much grain or generally has a calcium phosphorus imbalance in their diet, sometimes from an alfalfa-rich diet. The best preventative measure is to make sure that you feed llamas products that are appropriate for foraging llamas. Be careful about feeding llamas an exclusive concentrate food as this can quickly imbalance their nutrition. Symptoms can include a llama having difficulty urinating or passing a trickle of urine at time. They might also act depressed, or stretch out their hind legs while they stand, walk more stiffly than usual, and generally prefer not to move. If you suspect a llama cannot urinate, it’s very important to contact a veterinarian immediately as this is very dangerous for their health. Urinary blockage is more rare in male llamas than goats and sheep, and even rarer in female llamas than the males. (Back to top)

    White Muscle Disease

    White muscle disease is a degenerative disease that can be found in both sheep and llamas. It is caused by a nutritional deficiency of selenium, Vitamin E, or both. White muscle disease can affect heart muscle, skeletal muscle, or both. When the heart muscle is afflicted, a llama might have fever, trouble breathing, and bloody, frothy nasal discharge. When the skeletal muscle is afflicted, a llama will have an arched back, appear to be hunched over, and move very stiffly. Affected llamas will also have a much weaker immune system. Vitamin E deficiencies are typically a result of insufficient forage nutritional quality, and selenium deficiencies are typically found where the soil lacks selenium in appropriate quantities for foraging llamas. Treatment involves giving llamas vitamin E and selenium nutritional booster shots, which should show positive results within a day. If you suspect a llama is suffering from white muscle disease, contact your veterinarian for evaluation and to get the appropriate injections. The best prevention is to ensure that llamas have access to nutritional sources that are rich in both vitamin E and selenium throughout the year! (Back to top)


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    Non-Compassionate Source?

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