Ask the Veterinarian/Camel care

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Question
Hi there,
I am a veterinarian not much exposed to Camels. I am interested in Camel Practice and and I may join a Camel affair department shortly.Dr,could you please provide me some practical insight into camel care and medicine.Thanks in advance.

Answer
Hello Dr Rajasekhar,

I will try to give you a few tips about management as well as medicine for camel practice.

Vaccinations

All camels -- Clostridium CD/T vaccine should be given annually. Animals vaccinated for the first time will need a booster one month after the initial shot.

Pregnant camels -- 1) Keep current with the Clostridium CD/T as above. Also give this vaccination 2 months prior to calving in order to have protective antibodies against these diseases in the colostrum. 2) Also give expectant mothers the Endovac Bovi vaccine on the same schedule as the CD/T. This will help to protect the calves from serious gram negative infections such as salmonella and E. coli.

Additional vaccinations, such as rabies, may be necessary in your area.

Worming

Camels are very susceptible to whipworms. These worms are the most common cause of diarrhea in adult camels.Unfortunately, ivermectin, which is so commonly used, is not effective against whipworms, and camels can get a serious whipworm infection in spite of regular ivermectin use. However, ivermectin has good efficacy against many other types of worms which affect camels. Panacur is a safe, effective wormer for whipworms in camels. However, the whipworms may become resistant to Panacur over time. Using Panacur at double the horse dose may overcome or prevent some of this resistance.

Dectomex injectable wormer is effective against whipworms in cattle, and it has been used safely in llamas. As of yet I have not tried it in camels.

Levamasole is reported to have good efficacy; however, it has caused some toxicities in camels. So avoid it.

A good deworming program is to alternate ivermectin and Panacur, routinely using Panacur at double the horse dose. Worming every two months is recommended; however, this must be tailored to the individual situation.

Miscellaneous Tips on Feeding

Camels are very sensitive to selenium deficiency. Have your feed checked for selenium levels any time you get a new source of hay, even if you live in an area that is usually adequate in selenium, as hay fields may differ depending on irrigation practices, etc. This feed analysis can be done inexpensively by your local agricultural extension agent.  It is also a good idea to have your camels' blood selenium levels checked periodically, especially the youngsters and pregnant females. Selenium deficiency can be deadly in young camels, and can cause a wide range of symptoms in adults, from compromised reproduction,Uterine prolapse and poor hair coats to muscle damage and possible immune suppression. If needed, selenium can be supplemented mixed with a small amount of grain or in a free choice mineral mix. However, monitor the amount consumed, as excessive selenium can also be a problem.

Camels are prone to bloat, which is caused by alfalfa hay. Even a grass-alfalfa mix can cause bloat. Straight grass hay is a better choice. Bloat is a painful, life-threatening condition that can strike quickly, unexpectedly and unpredictably. Just because you have never had a case of bloat on your farm doesn't mean you never will. Feeding straight grass hay is a safeguard against one more thing that can go wrong.

Excessive grain can also cause many problems. If you do feed grain, limit it to a couple of pounds a day. Overfeeding may be more harmful than under feeding. Camels are not designed to live on rich, concentrated feeds; they are superbly adapted to deriving nutrition from coarse forages. High carbohydrate, high protein diets are not in your camels' best interest, even of they are tasty to the camel and gratifying to you.

Camels who are always on hay and who never have access to green pasture will benefit from a complete vitamin-mineral supplement. Fat-soluble vitamins, especially E and A, are abundant in green grass but degrade quickly in dried hay. Natural vitamin E may be more effective than synthetic vitamin E. Blood builders, which may contain high copper and iron levels, are not recommended under normal circumstances.

Camels have a very high requirement for salt. Salt blocks are okay, but free choice loose salt is better. All camels should have access to salt at all times.

Never feed grains which are specifically formulated for cattle or chickens to camels. These may contain ionophores (coccidiostats and growth promotants such as monensin, rumensin or salinomycin) which are poisonous to camels. Use horse feed instead.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that some medications which are safe and useful in other animals may cause problems in camels. An example is drugs which are processed by the kidneys. While the kidney of the camel is extremely efficient at conserving water, it is also very prone to damage by drugs which are hard on the kidneys such as banamine, phenylbutazone, some of the aminoglycoside antibiotics, and, to a lesser extent, tetracyclines and sulfa drugs. There are reported cases of kidney failure in camels following a single dose of banamine.


If  ever a camel dies, be sure to have a post mortem exam (autopsy) done on the animal.  If you skip it, you most certainly will regret it later. Although any veterinarian can do a post mortem, it is best to have it performed by a veterinary university or state agricultural extension lab. These people do this procedure far more often than the average veterinarian and so are better at it; the information you gain may be critical at a later date.

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Dr S Bindu Anand

Expertise

Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine http://binduanand.webs.com/

Experience

A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Organizations
Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

Education/Credentials
BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife

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