Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hot Reggae: We Will Meet Again

                           Hot Reggae is an alpaca who was born in 1994 in the Pacific Northwest. He was the cria of an alpaca who was owned and bred by two vets in a very large operation.  By the time of his birth he was owned by a dentist and his wife who also lived in the Pacific Northwest.  Hot Reggae accompanied two other alpacas we purchased from them in March of 2000.  Hot Reggae made the long trip from the Pacific Northwest to Virginia in the air conditioned horse trailer that people in the alpaca trade call "The Alpaca Train".  He arrived to us with Mr. Ditto Two and Noche Buena.  Hot Reggae was a gelded male, but he had a very important job within the herd. He was the lookout, the security officer and the alpaca policeman, not only when the herd consisted only of three, but later when others were born, or added through additional purchases.
                          Alpacas are very much herd animals. The herd is a family to them, and when one dies, there is a grieving period. They are more loving and more empathetic than most realize. While protecting the herd and notifying us of marauding dogs and coyotes, he also grieved and supported grieving when Shakria, our first cria died when just a few days old.  He also supported the herd when Shakria's mother eventually died of astrocytoma.  He oversaw and participated in alpaca soccer tournaments until the farm vet put a stop to the practice saying that it could lead to a potentially fatal broken leg. Then, he became part of the tetherball alpaca league.  He also dutifully listened as our children learned to play a variety of musical instruments. The Irish whistle and the uileann pipes are the two I remember that he seemed to enjoy best. I also remember his placing his chin on my shoulder as I sat on the stump within the alpaca pen and cried when I heard that my aunt had died.

                        In 2004, we moved all of the alpacas to a new farm we built where they would have much better accommodations.  Hot Reggae never seemed all that impressed.  All he ever really seemed to need was his herd, some green grass, some good hay in winter, a handful of Mazuri pelleted alpaca feed per day, and lots of fresh water.  He tolerated shearing as if he understood. We never really needed to trim his nails much because he used to file them down himself on a sharp rock in the pen. He seemed to stop, as if it were a secret, each time he realized that we were watching.

                          Alpacas have a stated lifespan of about fifteen years, however in captivity and with good care, some individuals have lived much longer. As they have aged, we have developed additional habits which have kept them healthy and living longer.  Normally, We add zinc to their feed.  We continue injections to prevent meningeal worm. They receive an annual rabies and CDT shot.  With age, we give occasional thiamine and vitamin A,C, and D, shots.  We drop selenium tablets in their pellets

                           In the past year, we knew that Reggae, as well as his dear friend Mr. Ditto II, were failing. Neither were moving particularly well. Hot Reggae seemed to have a stiff neck. Their tolerance for heat was also not what it once had been. We made sure they had extra water and we added fans suspended to the rafters from their now shared concrete floored barn room.  When the weather was hotter than 90 degrees F, then we would spray them down with cool water particularly on the legs and underbelly which is where they dissipate heat.

                            At the end of July, both Mr. Ditto Two and Hot Reggae were illl.  Both seemed to have pneumonia to me. I treated both with an appropriate dose of Tylosin intramuscularly over several days. I also gave multiple injections of thiamine.  Hot Reggae rallied and seemed to recover.  Ditto died peacefully at the end of July, this year, at age 20.

                              We knew that Hot Reggae, though he appeared completely recovered, was living on borrowed time. He was now 22 years old !  He simply appeared not to want to leave his herd, and the human family who had loved him for all this time, right on top of Ditto's loss.  So he hung in there with us.
This morning, he seemed congested again.  I gave another injection of Tylosin. He drank some water and ate all the pelleted grain in his dish. Then, he grazed in his pen with his nephew, Chocolat, while I moved four horses out to graze.  He appeared all right, and yet I knew that we wouldn't have much longer together.

                               When I returned from lunch to top up waters and to check on him, he had passed quite recently. He was lying in the stall on his side under the fans on the cool concrete floor, his eyes still open.  I imagine that it had been just moments ago because as I wrapped him for burial, rigor mortis had not yet set in.

                                Today, Reggae joins a herd of alpacas who were all loved here. It is my hope that Daniel will look after them until we get there to, once again, help with the task.  It has been my honor and privilege to know you and to care for you while you were here, Reggae.  I will do my best to ensure health and safety for the remaining herd.  And of course you know, you will be sorely missed.  We will meet again, my friend.

A kind and gentle animal who was always the protector and the "police officer" of the herd.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rehydration Solutions and Indications for a Variety of Species

This post first appeared on my other blog  www.rationalpreparedness/

This is the direct link to this particular important article.


(Picture from: )

   I used to buy a commercial apple flavored electrolyte powder which could be added to water for horses. I usually used a gallon sized orange or lemon gatorade for alpacas, dogs or even ailing poultry.  I have been very lucky with my interventions with animals and many of my animals, whatever the species, live far beyond their normal life expectancies.   Lately though I have been doing some research.  The commercial apple flavored electrolyte mix for horses has gone up to fifty dollars for a large container. It is sold out in my area, and the livestock supply house where I buy the heavy bucket size says they may not be buying it again.  In addition, I have read that horse electrolytes may not been formulated in the manner that is best for alpacas. Even though they are mammals, other species do not need electrolytes balanced exactly as humans do. Also, giving sugar to other animal species (other than hummingbirds, of course) without a specific veterinary direction to do so can be risky. We also need to establish for each species when the use of a rehydration solution or electrolytes is indicated. Although some farmers leave an electrolyte water solution out for horses or alpacas all the time, many vets think that this may be a bad practice. It may cause tooth decay. It may allow bacterial growth in sugared water that is sitting all day, and it may attract flies, even the more dangerous borer variety. So we should define the conditions for each species under which we would use such things. Since we are planning in advance for such emergencies, you have time to consult your equine vet or your farm vet either during a routine visit you have already scheduled, or by talking to them online.

                  Rather than spending fifty dollars for a large container of apple horse electrolyte, you could gather the ingredients for your own. Place the boxed ingredients and a copy of the recipe in a large transparent freezer style bag and then mark it for the animal species for which it is intended. Since I have alpacas, horses, dogs, guinea fowl, chickens, ducks, cats, and sheep, some could be used interchangeably but many formulations should not. 

 Then, after you have created a species specific  rehydration kit, place it in a location where you can gather it at a moment's notice.  

Some electrolytes are best delivered to the animal in water, where others might get more of it when given as a top dress to their dry food, with water given nearby.

        Since this was one of my tasks this week, I established an electrolyte and rehydration kit for each species here, and then I placed it in a durable large plastic bag. Then I marked each bag with the species for which it is intended to be used. Then I placed each prepared bag in a rectangular plastic bin with a lid which came from Wal-Mart. Then I placed a piece of masking tape on the lid and the side of the box and marked it "Varietal species rehydration kits" When kept in a cool dry place with the component parts in original packaging, they should last for a considerable period of time, perhaps many years.

The benefits are as follows:

1. By creating rehydration packages for each species and placing them in a large freezer bag, you are saving a great deal of money over purchasing the prepared varieties.
2. You will know how to make such solutions for each animal species you have and be enabled to hydrate your animals in a more customized  fashion.
3. You will reexamine your own practices of hydration and have a better plan for hydration when indicated, not simply when it's hot.
4. On finding an animal with heat stress or another issue during hot weather, by having these packs pre-gathered, you are not only saving the time by not needing to run out and gather these things under what could be worse conditions than now, but you are going to be able to provide appropriate rehydration much more quickly than if your animal had to wait for you to return from a quick emergency trip. You will have the species specific recipe and the materials right in the plastic package.
5. Remember that very hot conditions may trigger the need for rehydration solutions, but that diarrhea necessitates at least a phone call to a veterinarian. Diarrhea is not normal and although it can indicate a simple change in diet, it can also indicate gastrointestinal worms, or a serious infectious disorder of some kind, which could require additional intervention often in terms of a drug, in addition to rehydration.

This is the unsweetened flavoring. It doesn't take much of this to flavor for horses or alpacas.  Sometimes, plain lemon juice works best.  This is great to have as a backup in your rehydration kit to add to one of the recipes here.

Animals who are too hot, too cold, under stress, or found in Winter with frozen water should receive assistance with rehydration.  Animals with diarrhea need to be provided with rehydration solution as well as plain water immediately, and then you need to call your vet.


Some people believe that their horse automatically requires electrolytes in hot weather. Vets say this is not always true.  A horse should always have access to a clean bucket of plain water, and should have access to salt. For many horses, this may be all you need to do. Generally having a lot of plain salt blocks available and having them in a protected plastic bag is a good plan. I try to stock up when they are on sale.
For a horse with diarrhea,exhaustion or excessive perspiration, they lose salt and water.  Again, find out what your equine vet's objectives are if this happens.

This is one home recipe for equine replacement of electrolytes:


This particular one is sugar free and ideal for a horse with insulin resistance

26 ounces of NON-iodized salt
22 ounces of Lite Salt (potassium)
2 Tablespoons of Epsom Salt
OPTIONAL: One half packet of unsugared unsweetened lemon Kool-aid
        (Some horses benefit from the flavoring)

This can be used as either a top dress to feed or added to a separate bucket of water.  If the horse is one of the few who do not like the taste, you may add lemon juice, 6 Tablespoons.



Some equine vets believe that in Summer, especially active horses may benefit from a bucket of plain water, and then this solution placed next to it.  This is helpful for horses who aren't fans or frequent users of a salt block.

    5 ounces of non-iodized salt added to

    5 gallons of water



Mix equal amounts of non-iodized salt with
                            Morton's or similar Lite Salt (which is potassium chloride)
in five gallons of water.
  ( In this method, your horse should also eat because most horse feed contains adequate magnesium  and calcium.)




Take a clean five gallon bucket.
Add equal amounts of non-iodized salt, Morton lite salt (potassium) and baking soda.
You may flavor with lemon juice.
Do not add sugar unless vet has ordered it for a specific reason.

This is a great hot weather supplement in addition to having a salt block and plain water available.

Some farms keep this available in Winter also, in a heated bucket.


Notes on alpaca hydration:  Although many of us have gotten away with using four or five scoops of a lemon gatorade powder in a five gallon bucket for alpacas at risk, vets tell us that gatorade is low in electrolytes and high in sugar for alpacas, and so the recipe above is superior for them.
Resorb, can also be used in emergencies. Check with your vet and his/her objectives. 


You may use the alpaca recipe above.  Please read the links below on sheep dehydration also.


You may use Gatorade solution so long as you are also providing plain water.   Resorb as reconstituted for humans will also work. The alpaca recipe would also be helpful.  However, a goat who is dehydrated is very sick indeed and requires veterinary input in order to rectify the underlying cause of the dehydration whether it be infectious or otherwise.


 Chickens, Ducks, Guineas, Doves, Pigeons, 

These animals should generally have an abundant and clean supply of water, year round.
Last year, a Texas chicken farmer told me that when it becomes hotter than 100 degrees F, he slightly salts the chicken feed for his chickens once time each morning.  I have been doing this here in Virginia, and I have not had any sudden hen deaths since.

If you find one of your birds injured, stressed or ill, they should still have abundant water and food, but they should also have available.

Bird Rehydrator         Gather the materials and bag in advance, but mix only when needed

1. Place one gallon of water in a clean bucket 
2. Add one tablespoon powdered sugar   (or plain sugar if that's what you have)
3. Add one teaspoon non-iodized table salt.
4. Add one teaspoon baking soda
5. Add 1/2 tsp. Morton lite salt (which is potassium)

  Most of the time no additional flavorings will be needed.  Lemon juice, one tsp could be added. 

Recommended United Kingdom Recipe for bird rehydration  (Structured in measurements most familiar to them.)

7g sodium chloride
5g sodium bicarbonate
3g potassium chloride
40g glucose
2 litres water

  It is not necessary and could be harmful to provide the electrolyte solution to birds who are well so save this recipe for the sick or stressed animals.

 Rehydration Solution for Dogs:

A dog who is rescued and looks slightly dry and is hungry, can be given lots of plain water and food.  Lemon gatorade can be offered in addition.   A dog with a more complex issue will need veterinary attendance.

Rehydration Solution for Cats:

Cat Rehydration Recipe #1:

Plain lemon gatorade in addition to a separate dish of water nearby will work for most cats.

Cat Recipe #2
This recipe is designed for cats in kidney failure who are having trouble holding on to potassium.
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
    (Use spring or filtered water to avoid chlorine and flouride.)
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
    (Raw honey has natural antibiotic properties.)
  • 3/8 Teaspoon sea salt
    (Table salt from the supermarket has sugar in it – [what, you haven’t read the label recently and noticed this?] – and is missing all the trace minerals available in a good quality sea salt.)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon potassium salt (365 mg)
    (Sometimes called “potassium chloride” and available in health food stores in powder form.  I use the NOW brand Potassium Chloride Powder and that’s the basis for this measurement.)
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    (For a bit of vitamin C and to cut the sweetness.)
  • Enough water to make 2 full cups (16 ounces).
  • A glass bottle that will hold 2 cups of electrolyte liquid for storage purposes.
  • A 1-ounce brown dropper bottle for easy dispensing.
  • An extra dropper for dosing your cat so the dropper in the bottle isn’t contaminated.
  1. Put the raw honey into the warm water and stir.  I use a small wire whisk, but a fork will do as well.  You want to break up the honey and spread it through the water.
  2. Add the sea salt, potassium salt, and lemon juice.
  3. Put the mixture into the glass bottle and add enough water to make 2 full cups.
  4. Shake well.  This distributes the ingredients evenly throughout the liquid.
  5. Pour about an ounce of this into the dropper bottle.
  6. Refrigerate both bottles.
 Offer four times a day.
 A sick cat should be seen by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
This recipe was obtained at:


More detail from veterinarians in dehydration treatment and assessment:

Information on Lamb Dehydration from a Veterinarian

Information on Sheep Care: 

Data on Pigeon Rescue:

DISCLAIMER:   This post is designed to allow an owner or animal enthusiast hydrate an animal while the vet is either on his way or while you are making arrangements to have your animal seen by one.   Dehydration is often a symptom of an infectious illness or a serious disorder. Unless you are absolutely certain as to a cause of dehydration do not simply treat for dehydration without getting a vet's input after initiating rehydration.