The importance of Selenium in camels
What is Selenium?
Selenium is an essential trace mineral. Basically, Selenium is absorbed into proteins and acts like an antioxidant to enzymes to prevent cell damage from free radicals. Though small amounts of Selenium can be found in meat, most the Selenium we get is from plants grown in soil that contains the mineral. However, in the United States a lot of soil is severely lacking in Selenium and it’s important to know whether you live in one of those areas.
It’s also important for camels.
Selenium deficiency or toxicity is cited as the number one cause of death in camels in the United States by camel veterinarian Dr. Wright. And most of this can be prevented by checking to see if you’re in an area that has low levels of Selenium or not. If you are, a simple Selenium supplement (used for horses) can be added to camel’s diet to make up for the deficiency. One most be careful though, because overdosing is just as bad as being deficient and the symptoms of both are similar.
When a camel is Selenium deficient his or her muscles will weaken and thin as they begin to deteriorate. If caught early enough treatment can be effective, but because the heart is a muscle, permanent heart damage can occur if left untreated.
If you’re thinking of getting a camel, it’s so important that you supplement with the correct level of Selenium for your area.
Please see Dr. Wright’s paper here for proper dosage and more in dept information on this very important mineral.
Because of her paper online, I knew that my area was Selenium deficient and I was able to supplement both Nessie and Baby from the very fist day I got them. This was a great thing, because camel babies are much more vulnerable to lack of the mineral.
Baby carrying his whip
However, a couple months ago Baby began displaying symptoms of Selenium deficiency despite being supplemented. I had a vet out to have his blood tested and the results that came back are baffling. His Selenium levels were in perfect range (so the supplements worked!), but his Vitamin E levels were very low.
Vitamin E and Selenium work together and because of this Selenium supplements almost always also contain Vitamin E. So how or why was Baby deficient? I’m still trying to find that answer.
The treatment for Baby was three weeks of high doses of Vitamin E (10,000 units). I also gave him rounds of probiotics (probios and turval) and plenty of Vitamin E rich fresh vegetables. These treatments improved his overall appetite and mental state, but he still has weakness in both back legs. I can imagine that the muscle lost he suffered must take a considerable amount of time to rebuild and I’m hoping that’s all it is. His complete blood panel was completely normal and he has no other symptoms aside from the weakness in his back legs only.
Every day I wake up and go outside to see him and hope that his legs appear stronger, but even after treatment they seem exactly the same as before we started.
Thinking of losing him is unimaginable. Baby, you need to get better soon.