Food Animal Drugs

Camelid Analgesia, Sedation and Anesthesia

Accessing camelid veins is a bit tricky. Most drugs do work better iv but it is always nice to have an im plan ready to go. Llama lullaby is designed for IM use. Camelids fit into the “minor species” category.

NSAIDs

  • Flunixin 1.1mg/kg IV q 12 hours
  • Meloxicam 1mg/kg PO q 48 hrs
  • Ketoprofen 1mg/kg iv or im – less effective but can be given im

Sedation

Camelids vary in how they respond to people and drugs. When upset, they tend to lie down (kush) so attempting standing chemical restraint is usually not worth the effort.

  1. 0.5cc butorphanol ( per alpaca) or 1cc butorphanol (per llama) IM or IV if you can restrain. [In my hands, this does very little to sedate them; they usually just stand there and look at me. Per others, it works if you blindfold them.]
  2. xylazine 0.2 mg/kg IM and butorphanol 0.1 mg/kg IM for standing sedation and surgery
  3. llama lullaby – recipe below for recumbent sedation

Llama lullaby

To one bottle of ketamine (10 ml of 100 mg/ml) add 1 ml of 100 mg/ml xylazine and 1 ml of 10 mg/ml butorphanol. The sedation should last 40-50 min procedures. *Dose: 1ml/40# alpacas, 1ml/50# in llamas. Give IM

More specific doses of ket stuns for camelids:

xylazine 0.22-0.55 mg/kg + ketamine 0.22-0.55 mg/kg + butorphanol 0.08-0.11 mg/kg im

Camelid GA

Camelids do ferment but have a much smaller fermentation vat than cows. Once they reach about 4 months of age, we generally hold them off feed 12-18 hours, giving them free choice water.

Camelids can regurgitate and aspirate so the head position should be managed to ensure any regurgitation drains out of the mouth, not back down the throat, similar to small ruminants.  As soon as the procedure is done, the animal can propped into sternal recumbency with the head supported until the animal can hold it up. Camelids have a tendency to coil their necks in all sorts of wrong ways. This may not cause any real issues but we usually sit with them until they can hold their heads up.

Sick camelids tend to develop metabolic issues after anesthesia so should be carefully monitored.

The alpha2 agents (xylazine, detomidine, romifidine) may be reversed in camelids but yohimbine is expensive and tolazoline has significant side effects. Most practitioners use atipamezole and cautiously.

PS : It is really hard to open the mouth wide enough for intubation if the halter is still on. Just saying.

 

Resources

Pain management in small ruminants and camelids: Analgesic agents.Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract . 2021 Mar;37(1):1-16.

New World Camelids, UTenn, Tom Doherty, 2011

Chemical restraint, anesthesia and analgesia for camelids, Abrahamsen, VCNA 2009

Camelid anesthesia and drugs– Merck Manual

Food Animal General Anesthesia Protocols

Veterinary Techniques for Llamas and Alpacas Chapter 7 Sedation and Tranquilization

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD; Elaine Norton, DVM PhD; Erica Dobbs, DVM; and Ashley Ezzo, DVM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.