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Keywords:

  • Camelids;
  • Critical illness;
  • Intravenous feeding;
  • Nutritional support

Background: Parenteral nutrition is an important method of nutritional support in hospitalized animals, but minimal information has been published on its use in camelids.

Hypothesis/Objectives: The purpose of this study was to characterize the use of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in alpacas, evaluate the formulations used, and determine potential complications.

Animals: Twenty-two alpacas hospitalized at the Tufts Cummings School for Veterinary Medicine (site 1: n = 8) and the Ohio State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (site 2: n = 14).

Methods: A retrospective analysis of all alpacas that received TPN between 2002 and 2008 was performed to assess clinical indications, clinical and clinicopathologic data, and outcome.

Results: The most common underlying diseases in animals receiving TPN were gastrointestinal dysfunction (n = 16), hepatic disease (n = 2), and neoplasia (n = 2). Several metabolic abnormalities were identified in animals (n = 20/22) before TPN was initiated, including lipemia (n = 12/22), hyperglycemia (11/22), and hypokalemia (n = 11/22). Median age was significantly lower for site 1 cases (0.1 years; range, 0.01–11.0) compared with those from site 2 (4.9 years; range, 0.1–13.7; P= .03). Animals at site 2 also had a longer duration of hospitalization (P= .01) and TPN administration (P= .004), as well as higher survival rate (P < .02). Twenty-one of 22 alpacas developed at least 1 complication during TPN administration. Metabolic complications were most prevalent (n = 21/22) and included hyperglycemia (n = 8/21), lipemia (n = 7/21), hypokalemia (n = 3/21), and refeeding syndrome (n = 3/21).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: TPN is a feasible method of nutritional support for alpacas when enteral feeding is not possible. Prospective studies are warranted to determine optimal TPN formulations for alpacas.