Intravenous fluid therapy

From Cow

Intravenous fluid therapy is recommended for a number of reasons including scours and dehydration.

  • Hypertonic saline (7.5%): Calves that fit the following description are good candidates for this treatment plan:
- weak suck reflex
- slight acidosis
- warm mouth
- standing

This therapy will allow them to correct their electrolyte imbalances more quickly. This therapy should be followed by oral electrolyte therapy once the strong suck reflex returns (re-evaluate in 6 – 8 hours).

  • Intravenous fluid, electrolytes, bicarbonate and dextrose: Calves that are showing more severe symptoms (such as the following) are good candidates for this therapy:
- severe dehydration
- no suck reflex
- recumbency

The correct amount of fluid to be given can be calculated by considering the level of dehydration, the maintenance requirements of the calves and its ongoing fluid losses due to the diarrhea.

Iso-osmotic saline is often given as a source of electrolytes to correct imbalances.

Bicarbonate ions may be added to the fluid therapy to correct for the acidosis. The correct amount of bicarbonate ions to add to the treatment plan can be calculated by identifying the base deficit of the calf.

A 5% dextrose solution may also be given as part of IV fluid therapy to provide a quick energy source to the calf. It is also helpful in decreasing the level of hyperkalemia.