Diarrhea results in increased loss of electrolytes and water in the feces of calves and decreases milk intake. Ultimately, this process causes dehydration, metabolic acidosis (the blood is more acidic than it should be), electrolyte abnormalities including sodium deficiency, and a negative energy balance from the lost nutrients and lack of milk. 

Oral electrolyte solutions have typically been used to replace fluid losses, correct acid-base and electrolyte levels in the blood, and provide nutritional support with the added benefit of being relatively inexpensive and easy to administer.

Recent research has elicited better methods to assess and treat a calf with diarrhea as well as better guidelines for choosing an oral electrolyte solution, says Michelle Arnold, extension veterinarian with the University of Kentucky. Faster and more accurate diagnostic tests have also been developed to uncover the underlying cause of the diarrhea. Rapid diagnosis is critical to develop the best treatment options and to prevent future outbreaks.

Read more in the latest issue of Kentucky Dairy Notes

Source: Kentucky Dairy Notes, December 2012