Fluid Therapy – Dehydration Overlooked
Cattle are not the most efficient species at absorbing water from ingested material. This is evidenced by the character and consistency of their normal fecal material. In comparison to any other species (horses, small ruminants, dogs, cats, etc), cattle tend to have much more fluid feces. A cow or calf with horse-like fecal material has been experiencing a high level of dehydration for a significant amount of time.
Dehydration is an often overlooked clinical sign of a sick animal. A sick cow or calf often is not feeling well enough to eat or drink. Depending on the environmental conditions and the cause of disease, dehydration may be mild to severe and life-threatening. A calf with pneumonia likely is experiencing some level of dehydration, but this would be mild compared to the dehydration of calf scours. Also, a lame animal that has been lying in the heat of the day, is likely to be significantly dehydrated.