With drought in some areas and excessive heat warnings in others, water intake and hydration of cattle is critical right now. Be aware of clinical signs of dehydration in cattle. Robert Ovrebo, DVM, offers this information on cattle dehydration.
Clinical signs of dehydration
Severely challenged cattle can dehydrate in excess of 10% of their bodyweight. Clinical signs include: eyes sunken into orbits, skin remains tented indefinitely, dry mucus membranes, and depression is evident. This degree of dehydration is potentially life threatening and procedures of IV fluid therapy and oral rumen large volume supplementation should be initiated immediately.
Cattle with dehydration of 5-10% of their bodyweight will exhibit partial sunken eyes into the orbit, skin tenting that is 4 to 8 seconds in duration, tacky mucus membranes, and reduced dry matter intake with a corresponding decrease in productivity. University studies indicate that cattle with 7-8% percent dehydration levels have impaired immune response.
Cattle with 2-%4 percent dehydration or less will have minimal observable clinical signs but physiological and performance efficiency can be reduced.
Awareness of dehydration
Not all situations of dehydration in the bovine are easy to recognize. The rumen acts as a fluid reservoir by which body fluid balance can be maintained for a short period of time. This causes “shrink” of the animal’s normal body weight and, if not corrected, will lead into the stress observed as clinical dehydration.
Being aware of situations that will cause shrink presents an opportunity to be proactive and use preventative measures to insure body fluid homeostasis.
Providing accessible high quality water, anticipating increased maintenance needs from environmental heat, transportation, pyrexia associated with disease, fluid loss from diarrhea — these are examples of situations that can be addressed to maintain hydration with the use of water or feed added electrolytes on a pen or herd basis.
Robert Ovrebo, DVM, is a staff veterinarian at the Form-A-Feed and TechMix companies, Stewart, Minn. Visit www.Formafeed.com
Read the full article “Bovine Hydration” for more information on water intake requirements and rehydration practices for adult cattle and calves in Bovine Veterinarian here.