Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The country vet pays a visit

Everyone in the barn was a little tense.

The llama ladies had not had halters put on in quite some time, so they knew something was up:

Chester, not accustomed to being summoned back to the barn by me during the day, sniffed the air for clues:

Pete and Reggie, who normally wander the barn when I'm up there, were put into the third stall so they'd stay out of trouble:

Dolly gave me her very best "sad eyes", trying to convince me that I should take her halter off and give her some grain instead:

Chester took a good, stiff drink to soothe his nerves:

He's not at all embarrassed by his messy drinking:

Dolly went off to lick some salt to pass the time:

Chester was the one to hear the engine first:

Curiosity grew:

It was Dr. Sarah, our small town country veterinarian, who had come out to address some animal health concerns I had:

I explained to her why I had asked her out:

1) I'd been noticing an unusual smell coming from Chester's mouth. It's a rather fishy/salty smell that I am not at all familiar with in donkeys. I was concerned that Chet might have an abscess or tooth or mouth trouble of some kind.
2) I was concerned about parasite/worm management in my barnyard herd. Being relatively new to country/farm life, and having just introduced 4 new and quite large animals to my animal family, I wanted to make sure everybody looked good and that my parasite management plan was sound.
3) I wanted a general llama health check: weight, skin, eyes, etc. I know very little about their history and wanted to know that there was nothing glaring that I was overlooking in their care.

4) Two of the three llamas, Toni and Kai, have rough, bare patches of skin along their spines that doesn't seem to be getting better and Kai has had a goopy, weepy eye that doesn't seem to get better.

Dr. Sarah got right to work checking Chester's mouth:

After an initial, cursory exam that revealed nothing out of the ordinary, it was time for a deeper look. This required the use of a crazy metal contraption (a full mouth speculum) designed to keep a horse's or donkey's mouth open during an oral exam:

Poor Chester. It didn't look comfortable. Dr. Sarah was very impressed with him because she thought she might have to use a mild sedative for him to allow the contraption in his mouth, but he allowed her to do what she needed to do without much of a fuss:

Such a good boy:

Diagnosis: She saw and felt nothing out of the ordinary. A couple of his teeth had the beginnings of what will eventually be sharper edges, so I will need to have his teeth floated (filed down) in the next few months. She found no sign of what might cause the smell in his mouth, so for now, I will just chalk it up to it being "his" personal smell.

Chester, his exam was finished, let everyone know how bored he *really* was with the whole thing:

Then it was the llamas' turn:

The vet thoroughly checked Kai's eyes and the dry, flaky skin on Kai and Toni's backs:

Diagnosis:Dr. Sarah saw no corneal damage and recommended Terramycin for Kai's eyes for possible mild conjuctivitis. She also could see no external parasite that might be the cause of the dry skin patches. She still, however, recommended a dose of Dectomax to combat any possible unseen mite or parasite affecting their skin:

This meant injections for all the llama girls:

Have you ever seen a llama rear up and then stomp its rear leg so hard you can feel the power of it in the floor mat beneath your feet? Until then, I never had. It was certainly an impressive moment, but also kind of scary. Needless to say, my ever-present camera was unable to be used during this time, so imagine, if you can, this scenario: 2 twitchy, agitated llamas, 1 angry, intense llama and 2 relatively small, focused women with needles in their hands all stuck together in a 12'x12' stall. Wow.

Bottom Line: Dr. Sarah said everyone "looked good". The animals are healthy, are not overcrowded, receive a good diet of grass hay and pellet feed (llamas), and are all a good weight.

She recommends I do a fecal exam for parasites in about 6 months and treat based on what I see. She does not recommend routine quarterly de-worming with alternating wormers. This is chemically treating a problem that might not exist or possibly treating a specific parasite with the wrong de-wormer.

All barn inhabitants immediately relaxed once Dr. Sarah drove away and the halters came off:

I asked Chester later what he thought of the whole vet visit-thing. This was his only response:


  1. I love Chester's reply! Too cute!

    And I love a vet who doesn't like scheduled worming. Resistant parasites are a much bigger problem in the long run.

  2. Oh my goodness...I cannot even imagine how annoyed my llamas would be...let alone the camel! LOVE that last shoe, hilarious! Kim

  3. The last photo is the best! All I could think of when I read about the bad breath deal was some bad breath Leah had. I was for sure she had a medical condition, ha after a couple days we finally figured it was from the pickled garlic she'd been eating. P.S nice barn and set up you have for your animals, how lucky are they!

  4. Oh Chester! No need to get sassy!

  5. How funny, you are so good at getting the moment in pictures. I always enjoy seeing what is going on in your barn.

  6. You may need to do what I did after our last vet visit, and that was lie down when I got the bill!! Great post as usual and I can relate to Chesters response! hahaha!

  7. So comforting knowing that you are doing things right and your animals are in good condition. I agree with Chester, I don't like going to the dentist either. Good job Mama.

  8. So glad to hear that everything was fine. Koo, my llama, also has some dry patchy hairless places as well. I treated him for lice/mites even though I don't see any either. Too soon to tell if it will help. Last weekend he got groomed, wormed and deloused and I also trimmed his feet. He now has a new house so is feeling pretty happy.
    It is always good to establish a relationship with a country vet. We don't have any of those around any more. Just some high priced horse vets that don't know anything about llamas or goats. I would love to have a nice young vet available.

  9. That Chester sure is a character! I'm glad to hear everything was pretty good!

  10. Great Pictures. Very sound advice about not worming if not needed.

  11. Laughed outloud at Chester's response. That should be your new profile pic!

  12. Wow!! Brave women to be in the same stall as 3 llamas that weren't too happy. I'm glad they're all doing well. I didn't expect any less. :) You're a good llama momma to get them checked before anything major might set in.

    Chester---now I just love him even more. Having that crazy dental contraption in his mouth w/o being sedated certainly earns him a gold star and carrot for sure!

  13. Love that last photo! Also love the one of Dolly looking over the stall.

    I'm impressed with your vet. She's much more forward thinking than most I've met who throw drugs at worming problems even if there may not *be* a worming problem.

  14. Ooooo...the vet story! That pic of Dolly with those eyes...just makes me wanna sigh and say awwww, dolly, its all gonna be okay. Such a brave girl.
    Such a brave *group*, really. But, they are all such good critters, it doesnt surprise me that they did so well.
    And just the word "mouth speculum" makes me not like it. But I have to say that I feel even closer to Chet now...I think they had to use something like that when I got my braces on....Im certain tho, that it was not as large as that. :-)
    Im very happy that everyone is happy and healthy. Thats just what you want to hear when you have the country vet come out.
    I think in that last pic of Chet he was like, schmet...weve got this covered.:-)

  15. Like Sarah, we are greatly impressed with your vet! I, myself, don't like shots either, but I suppose they are a necessary evil. I suppose. Did she give out Peanuts to all the 'good kids'????

  16. Everyone is good. No one was hurt! And Chester was allowed to say his peace...yep all is right with the world!

  17. Chester is just the cutest! And your Llamas wow what gorgeous eyes they have. I love all your animal photos, nice job!

  18. Great post Danni! Glad everyone checked out OK.

  19. That Chester! He's just the best boy, isn't he? Glad to hear that his teeth were okay. And interesting take on your vet's recommendations for worming (or not). Thanks for sharing. Oh yeah, and great last picture. I'd recognize that little mug anywhere :-)

  20. I love Chester....that yawning photo was priceless.

  21. I'm so glad everyone is doing ok. I love that picture of Dolly - she's so pretty. Those eyes.......

    Chester is such a brave, good boy. If I saw that contraption coming at my mouth, I'd probably scream and cry.

    I laughed out loud at that last picture!

  22. Just goes to show you what a great country girl you've become. Taking care of those larger critters just fits you, that's all!

  23. Interesting post! One of our llamas had a spine skin problem last summer. She lost most of the fleece along her spine and even ended up with little tiny blood spots along it too. The skin was terribly dry and flakey. It eventually cleared up after a round of antibiotics and washings with iodine-based shampoo. No signs of external parasites either. Hope yours clears up! BTW, ours was in with 4 other llamas and none of them had the problem, which was also odd, but at least it is fixed now. Took a loooong time to grow back her fleece.


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