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The Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Victorian Eastern Region of the Australian Alpaca Association Ltd.

Resources >> Health >> Footrot!


….. AND THEY DON’T GET FOOTROT! – OR DO THEY?

 By Rosemary Eva and Liz Coles, Longueville Park Alpaca Stud

At shows, open days, field days or just general discussion with the public how many times do we hear -  “they spit, they make great pets, they guard sheep from dogs, and they don’t get footrot – or do they?..........”  To mention just a few queries.   

So the answer to the latter question is probably “no”  BUT they can get a condition known as infectious pododermatitis (1) where the footpad can become ulcerated and pitted and lead to loss of the whole pad on one or more feet.


All four feet showed significant degree of damage
All four feet showed significant degree of damage

Background    

During a prolonged period of rain followed by heat and humidity, a small herd of wethers had been happily grazing in a very wet paddock for three weeks.  These animals are very well cared for with all husbandry and vaccination programs carried out on a regular basis.  The owner brought them in for their routine check including toenail trimming only to discover that all had varying degrees of pad loss but no sign of infection.  Of particular interest was that the damage to the feet of the white and lighter animals was far more extensive than the darker colours.   None of the animals was lame, all in excellent health, bright and alert and no obvious signs of discomfort.



Wound cleaning and dressing materials.
Wound cleaning and dressing materials.

Treatment  

First and foremost was to get them out of the wet paddock and on to a dry area almost devoid of any grass, and if necessary, supplementary feed them until the condition improved.   

The feet were thoroughly cleaned with diluted bleach/water and then dried.    A liberal amount of Betadine ointment was then applied and the pad covered with a non-stick dressing Melolin

To keep the dressings dry and in place the whole foot was wrapped in Vetwrap.  Each animal tolerated these dressings and they were kept in place for one week



All feet securely bandaged.  New boots, cute eh?
All feet securely bandaged. New boots, cute eh?

Conclusion.  After one week  being kept on dry ground and allowed to graze only on pasture when it was dry, the dressings were taken down to review progress and determine the way ahead.



Same foot one week later.
Same foot one week later.

Note the pad starting to granulate and the outer edges healing well.  All animals remain healthy but total healing will be slow but steady.  

This case is a salutary lesson to all alpaca owners and demonstrates the need for careful vigilance in prolonged wet conditions.

Acknowledgement:  Sincere thanks to the owner of these wethers who gave permission to share this experience with other alpaca owners

Reference:  Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids,  Murray Fowler, DVM 2nd ed.    P.265