February is Pet Dental Health Month. Just like any other animal, llamas and alpacas need proper dental care to truly thrive. In this article, Westminster, MD vet offers tips on caring for a llama’s teeth.
Llamas and alpacas generally have 30 or 32 adult teeth. These should all have come in by age six. As you may know, llamas have ‘fighting’ teeth. These fighting teeth are, well, basically llama weapons. In aggressive intact male llamas, these should be filed down for safety reasons. Females and males that were gelded young also have fighting teeth, but theirs are usually smaller and not as sharp, and don’t usually need to be filed. Ask your vet for more information.
Hopefully you haven’t learned this the hard way, but llama teeth are quite sharp. Be very careful when sticking your fingers into your llama’s mouth!
Your llamas will get a few visits from the tooth fairy as their adult teeth erupt. If you suddenly find your fuzzy pal with a bloody mouth, or find a tooth on the ground or in a food bucket, there’s a good chance that your llama lost a baby tooth. Sometimes, just like with human children, llamas’ baby teeth don’t want to come out. Your vet may advise you to gently rock the tooth to gradually loosen it. If that doesn’t work, extraction may be required.
Llamas can break or lose teeth through fighting or rough play, or simply because of age. This usually happens with deciduous (baby) teeth. However, if you notice your four-legged friend suddenly has a gap in his grin, check with your vet.
Some warning signs of dental issues in llamas and alpacas include unchewed food in fecal matter, dislike of cold water, swelling, dropped food, tartar buildup, weight loss, and/or trouble chewing. You may also notice a hard lump on your pet’s mouth. Call your vet right away if you see any of these red flags. In some cases, the problem tooth may need to be filed. Extraction is also sometimes necessary. Llamas with dental issues can’t chew properly, so your vet may recommend adding softer food, such as alfalfa pellets mixed with grain and water.
Do you have questions about llama care? Please contact us, your Westminster, MD vet clinic, for your llama’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!