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How to Administer Medications in Alpacas

Updated: Jan 24


There are no medications in the UK which are licensed for use in alpacas, so you should always consult your vet for advice on which medication to use and at what dosage rate (as this can differ greatly from the information listed on the packaging).


This blog offers an oversight on how to administer medication in alpacas, but before you begin, you should ask your vet to show you how to do this correctly and safely to avoid causing injury to yourself, another handler or your alpaca(s). If you still do not feel confident doing this after being shown, request the vet does it for you.



Intravenous Injections

Intravenous injections must only be conducted by a vet because this is highly skilled and requires accessing the blood vessels in a manner that will not cause infection.



Intramuscular Injections

  1. These injections are going straight into muscle mass

  2. Use a new, long enough needle to penetrate the skin & muscle

  3. Pull the plunger back before injecting to check you are not in a blood vessel - if you draw blood, you have hit a blood vessel and need to reposition - it is vital that you check you are not in a blood vessel, as injecting into the blood can be fatal

  4. If you have to reposition the needle because it was in the wrong place, choose a new site at least one inch away so that no leakage can occur

  5. Dispense the medication by pushing the plunger slowly and steadily

  6. Massage the area after injecting to distribute the medication and relieve some of the stinging sensation




Subcutaneous Injections

  1. These injections go between the skin and muscle

  2. Use a new needle, pinch loose skin into a 'tent' shape and push the needle into the length of the tent

  3. Pull the plunger back before injecting to check you are not in a blood vessel - if you draw blood, you have hit a blood vessel and need to reposition or if there is no resistance, you have gone out the other side and need to reposition - it is vital that you check you are not in a blood vessel, as injecting into the blood can be fatal

  4. If you have to reposition the needle because it was in the wrong place, choose a new site at least one inch away so that no leakage can occur

  5. Dispense the medication by pushing the plunger slowly and steadily

  6. Leave the site alone (do not massage the area, as this may push the medication out of the hole!)




Topical Treatments


Topical treatments are applied to the skin as directed. It can be difficult to administer these treatments to alpacas with full fleeces, so ensure you part the fleece well beforehand. The best time to complete this type of treatment is just after shearing.



Oral Treatments


Oral treatments are administered via the mouth. This needs to be done with care to avoid the substance entering the alpaca’s airways. Carefully restrain the alpaca and place your hand under the lower jaw, applying gentle pressure behind the teeth to part the mouth slightly. You can then place the substance directly into the mouth - but be careful not to push the medication into the airways.



Regardless of the type or method of medication, always:

  • Ensure there are two handlers present (one to hold the alpacas and one to administer the medication)

  • Wash your hands before and after medicating your alpacas

  • Use sterile equipment and a fresh needle for each alpaca to reduce the risk of contamination

  • Make a note of the medication batch number, in case of any issues or recalls

  • Shake the product thoroughly before use to ensure it is mixed well

  • Select the smallest gauge needle possible to handle the volume and thickness of the product (needles are colour coded in terms of gauge – the higher the number, the finer the gauge of the needle)

  • Leave one needle in the bottle, and use a separate needle for injecting (but remember to remove the dispensing needle before storing)

  • Inject air into the medication bottle before withdrawing the drug to balance the pressure and after withdrawing the drug, hold the syringe and needle vertically and tap it lightly to move the air bubbles up before pushing the plunger carefully to remove any trapped air

  • Label the medication upon opening with the date

  • Store and dispose of the medication as per the directions



Disclaimer: Fostings Alpacas are not a veterinarian body. Always consult your vet before administering medication to your herd.



 

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