Comparison of Two Oral Electrolyte Solutions for the Treatment of Dehydrated Calves with Experimentally-Induced Diarrhoea

P. D. Constable, E. Thomas, B. Boisrame

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We compared the ability of two oral electrolyte solutions to resuscitate calves with experimentally induced diarrhoea and dehydration. Sucrose solution, furosemide, spironolactone, and hydrochlorothiazide were administered to 18 male Holstein-Friesian calves to induce diarrhoea and dehydration. Clinical changes after 24 h included severe diarrhoea, moderate dehydration (8-10% body weight), azotemia, and clinical depression. Calves were then randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups (milk replacer, 2 L every 12 h; hyperosmotic oral electrolyte solution, 2 L every 12 h; iso-osmotic oral electrolyte solution, 1.5 L every 6 to 12 h) and followed for an additional 48 h. Compared to feeding milk replacer, the hyperosmotic solution significantly (P < 0.05) improved hydration status, increased body weight, maintained urine production, decreased the degree of clinical depression and prevented development of metabolic acidosis, although serum glucose concentration was decreased at 24 h and 48 h. The hyperosmotic solution produced a similar resuscitative response to the iso-osmotic solution, but maintained higher serum glucose concentrations and lower serum β-OH butyrate and non-esterified fatty-acid concentrations, indicating that the hyperosmotic solution provided greater nutritional support. The hyperosmotic solution rehydrated calves faster and more effectively than feeding equivalent volumes of milk replacer and can, therefore, be recommended as part of the initial treatment of dehydrated calves with diarrhoea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Bovine
  • Calf
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhoea
  • Oral electrolyte solution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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