Alpacas are susceptible to many of the gastro-intestinal worms that also affect sheep, cattle and goats. The most common one we see is the Barber’s Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus). This is a nasty little blood-sucking parasite which can occur in large numbers and which can result in serious blood loss. In severe cases the animals can die of anaemia. Symptoms include weakness, weight loss and pale mucous membranes (e.g. the gums and tissues around the eyes.) Alpacas can also be affected by various other worms that cause diarrhoea and weight loss. While they have a lower risk of worms due to their elimination habits, they are often grazed on the same spaces as other ruminants which can lead to worm infestation.
Control of worms is an important but complex task. It requires a combined approach using pasture management, monitoring of faecal worm egg counts and the appropriate use of the correct type of worm medications. As a rough rule of thumb we recommend doing faecal worm egg counts every three months to monitor the worm levels in your animals. Your veterinarian can do this for you and will then help you to plan the best long-term strategy for controlling worms in your alpacas. Discuss the best medications for use with your Alpacas as there are no made to order Alpaca de-wormers or external pest control methods and only some sheep medications are suitable for use with these ruminants.
Alpacas in this area are frequently affected by the paralysis tick and this can be fatal. This is the same tick that is such a menace to dogs and cats. Usually young alpacas are more susceptible but even adults can be seriously affected and can die. A number of tick washes can be used on alpacas. One handy trick for crias is to use a tick collar, like the ones that are used on dogs.