One oral electrolyte is just as good as another
Keywords:calves, diarrhea, electrolytes
Diarrhea remains the leading cause of mortality in both beef and dairy calves. Calves with diarrhea frequently develop dehydration, strong ion acidosis, electrolyte abnormalities, and are in a state of negative energy balance. Oral electrolyte therapy is a simple and economical method of addressing all of these potential complications. However, there are significant differences in oral electrolyte products available for use in calves and for treatment of diarrhea. Many commercially available oral electrolytes are based off of World Health Organization recommendations for oral rehydration therapy in children, which have differences in pathophysiology of diarrhea as compared to calves. For example, a major difference is that calves produce D-lactate in their colon during diarrhea which leads to a significant acidemia. Therefore, oral electrolyte products commonly used to resuscitate humans may not work effectively in calves. This article will give an overview of oral electrolyte therapy in both children and calves focusing on how to choose an electrolyte product.