In the photos above of the dark animal, this huge, hard lump appeared on the side of the face - the largest cud we've seen in twenty years of raising llamas.  Upon examination, it was hard, not hot, and didn't appear to be painful to the animal.  Thinking it may be a cud, we watched it.  Four days later, it was still there and just as large.  Time to call the vet - this couldn't be cud!  Before making the call, we decided to take a look inside her mouth.  With the help of a piece of broomstick to keep her mouth open, much to our amazement, we found a huge stash of sweet smelling grasses packed into the side of her cheek.  We've come to the conclusion that occasionally these animals plot together to come up with something to alarm their owners!  Must be their barn entertainment!


     The photo below is of an abscess that appeared on the inside of the left front leg.  The animal was limping and the leg appeared swollen around the area of the abscess.  In the photo to the left, the abscess has apparently burst and the draining pus has formed a crusty scab over the area.

     In the photo to the right, the crusty scab was lifted off leaving a round open area.  The area was washed and flushed with a Betadine solution to clean it and then Nolvasan was applied.  An injection of Banamine was also given to relieve the pain and help reduce the inflammation.

     An abscess is a round, hard swollen area - actually a pocket of pus which is formed from dead tissue cells after an injury which becomes infected. 
Pus is a thick fluid produced by the body as it fights the bacterial infection.  The cause of most abscesses is a puncture wound from something in the pasture such as a thorn or a stick.  Foreign matter, such as a splinter or dirt, then penetrates the skin via the wound.  The abscess first appears as a painful firm swelling under the skin that is either hot or cold to the touch.  As time passes, the localized swelling becomes softer and less painful.  Like a boil, when the abscess is full, it will burst or need to be lanced.  When the abscess bursts, it drains letting the pus out. 

     When located on the jaw, it can actually look like the llama or alpaca is holding a mouthful of cud.  An abscess in the mouth can actually be caused from something as simple as being poked with a piece of debris while eating hay or grass.  Or it can be a tooth problem.

      Treating An Abscess:  Clip the wool away from the area and gently clean the area with an antibacterial solution such as Betadine.  Remove any scabs or crusts on the skin than have formed.  After the pus has been expressed, flush the abscess daily with hydrogen peroxide followed by applications of Nolvisan. Healing can seem rather slow since an abscess heals from the inside out. There is also a wound dressing that your Veterinarian can get for you that has shown a lot of success in treating abscesses. Called Silverlon, it is a treated gauze-type material that you pack into the abscess and it promotes healing while killing the infection. Some llama owners highly recommend this product.

     If you come in contact with draining pus, just wash your hands; this bacteria is only infectious to humans if it is exposed to an open wound on the owner’s skin.

     Occasionally an abscess may occur at the site of a Sub-Q injection, especially common when administering CD/T vaccinations. 

     Tooth Abscess:  When an animal has repeated abscesses occurring on a tooth, they may be faced with the decision of surgery.  Below are some comments from lama breeders who have experienced a llama's tooth abscess.  Perhaps their experiences will be of some help to one who may be having this problem.

However, note that the information provided on this website is designed to share and support;  not to replace the relationship that exists between a patient and his/her veterinarian.

Read On ..........

"Zippity has another tooth root abscess. This is the third time for the same tooth and she is only four years old. The vet gave me the option of trying the antibiotics again, having it x-rayed and having it pulled if necessary. I voted to try the antibiotics again. She is on the fourth dose with one more to go and unfortunately this is the one time she is not responding to the antibiotic (Nuflor). Next step is to x-ray the jaw and determine if the tooth should be pulled. I have heard horror stories of jaws breaking and thousands of dollars being spent to correct. Anyone have any positive things to tell me. I guess if you have negative ones I should hear them too. Or suggestions would be welcome also. This is very discouraging.

Wendy: Because the teeth are attached to the jawbone, they can't be "pulled" per se. If your option is to have the tooth removed, and you are close to OSU, and their vet school there, I am sure they have dealt with tooth problems prior and have a lot of experience. We had the same problem some years back; "played' with a bad tooth for quite sometime. Our local vet at the time did the surgery and it was her first experience. She actually didn't think she could do it, but kept trying and did get it out and the end result turned out great. Good luck in whatever route you take!

Wendy we messed with one of our girls for many, many months, I think it was close to a year and finally pulled the tooth and she is fine now. We tried several antibiotics , we did x-rays, we open up the area under her jaw where she had a lump and drained and I inserted meds several times a day for many days. Etc.....pulling the tooth we did here, it was the vet, his assistant and me. It took us nearly 3 hours and was lots of work. The root of the tooth is a Y, our girl was a trooper and was sedated but not knocked out.  For us it was the answer.  Good luck 

I spoke with Susan  at the Llama Affaire about abscesses, because we have both had them.....she learned from Steve that they have used a drug, Microtil??????   It only takes one shot and apparently the abscess goes away....rarely a second dose is used....I guess its a common drug for cattle *BUT* it is highly toxic especially to humans and a person recently died from getting scratched by the needle tip....Eliz Mary

Aha, maybe that was the drug my vet said he could use, but would not let me take home. I would have to bring Zippity to him for administering. I'll ask him and make the trip(s) if that is what he wants to try next. Thanks so much for this info.

We have used Micotil several times and we started out with the same concerns as Linda but become a little more comfortable every time we use it. It seems to work very well when we administer it early in the abscess process, but we haven't had long term success with a long term established abscess.  We did have a tooth removed once and it was a very successful outcome but the procedure was so scary we haven't tried it since, we are a long way from anyone with experience in removal. Cathy just had a tooth removed from her llama, Stretch, that sounded like a very gentle procedure. We have two females that have had abscesses for about 6 years, they clear up for maybe a year and then return but they are both relatively fine boned ladies one 11 and one 17 years old and we have just been afraid to attempt a removal. We live in cattle country and Micotil is very commonly used for "lumpy jaw" and yes the vet does have to administer it as it is extremely dangerous to humans.

Always check with your own veterinarian before
 administering any treatment or medications.

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