Christopher K. Cebra, VMD, MA, MS, DACVIM
A variety of parasites affect the gastrointestinal tract of New World camelids. Some of these are unique to camelids, but many also infest or infect ruminants, other domestic animals, cervids, or other wildlife as well. As a rule, parasitic infections are more associated with ill thrift than more specific and overt signs of GI disease, such as diarrhea or colic, but as such, they are among the most common causes of poor-doing in domestic camelids.
The fed camelid supplies most of its body energy needs through the short chain fatty acid products of gastric fermentation. These are made in roughly the same proportion as in ruminants on similar diets, with the difference that the camelid gastric wall does not appear to convert butyrate to its ketone form. Short chain fatty acids may be oxidized by most tissues.
The advantage of contrast studies is that they highlight and allow assessment of the tissue-contrast interface, and allow assessment of the size, shape, location and patency of various viscera. Contrast can be used to locate structures not apparent on survey films, such as masses, obstructions, and foreign object.
The goals of fluid therapy in camelids are similar to those in other species. The mechanics and details are somewhat different. Of the possible routes, oral and intravenous are the major routes used to correct problems of hydration. Subcutaneous, intraperitoneal, and intraosseus administration all have specialty applications, but are not useful or necessary in most situations.
The subject of abdominal pain in camelids has been addressed a number of times over the years, with the discussion becoming progressively more detailed as we gain experience with these species. We were truly learning from scratch, as the South American approach (hands off and deal with the consequences) was generally unsuitable to North American tastes.