Oral electrolyte solutions have typically been used to restore fluids, correct pH and electrolyte levels in the blood, and provide nutritional support to scouring calves. However, there are a tremendous number of commercial products available, and they can differ considerably, explains Michelle Arnold, veterinarian with the University of Kentucky.

What to look for in an oral electrolyteTo help you make a wise choice, remember that the electrolyte solution must satisfy these four requirements:

1. It must supply enough sodium to rapidly correct the losses that have occurred.

2. It must include agents (glucose, citrate, acetate, propionate, or glycine) that actually encourage absorption of sodium and water from the intestine.

3. It must provide an alkalinizing agent (acetate, propionate, or bicarbonate) to correct the blood from being too acidic.

4. It must provide energy because calves with diarrhea are in a negative energy balance.

Arnold says it is important to examine the product label and understand the contents. However, ingredients can be presented in different ways, which makes product comparisons difficult. Ask your veterinarian or nutritionist to help you properly evaluate your oral electrolyte product before your next case of calf diarrhea.