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Diabetes like conditions are reasonably common in alpacas. In some cases these are mild and transient and have limited health implications, and in other cases they are associated with serious health risks. In both groups the use of medications to control blood glucose may play a role. In the past, insulin was the major medication used for this purpose. For a variety of reasons, including the potential risk for dramatically lowering blood glucose, insulin was not the ideal choice, especially for at-home care. A number of non-insulin medications have been developed recently to help control blood sugar in humans and other animals. We investigated Exenatide, one of these insulin alternatives. It helps regulate blood sugar by increasing insulin production and release in response to high blood sugar.
In a study funded by ARF, we assessed the effects of several doses of Exenatide on alpacas. The study showed that Exenatide works well at lower doses than were previously used and associated with colic in alpacas, making it a viable alternative to insulin for the management of clinical cases of high blood sugar in alpacas.
Cebra, CK, Smith, CC, Stang, BV, Tornquist, SJ, Exenatide dosing in alpacas, J Vet Pharmacol Ther, 2014 Jan 31 doe: 10.1111/jvp.12103. [Epub ahead of print]