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Dehydration

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12/27/01

In baby goats, this is usually the result of a prolonged battle with diarrhea. (There are numerous other causes relating to sodium, potassium, etc deficiencies and excesses which can only be confirmed by testing.) The kid may appear unthrifty, the skin will lose its elasticity (will not snap right back into place when pinched and pulled) and, if severe, the eyes will be sunken. Dehydration is always a very serious situation. Not only must you restore the fluid levels to the proper amount, you must also do it in a way as to preserve or enhance the electrolytic balance within the bodily fluids. Also, since dehydration is only a symptom of the primary ailment, you must diagnose and treat the causative problem.

Therefore, deal with the diarrhea as described elsewhere if that is the cause. [Diarrhea] In order to restore the electrolyte balance and fluid level, you can do this is any of three ways: intravenous fluids, subcutaneous fluids, or oral fluids.

Oral electrolyte solutions

For the young animal which is strong enough to nurse, not in imminent danger of death and may have diarrhea, this is best accomplished by means of oral electrolyte solutions. There are several of these available commercially. There are two different types of these and their use is generally dependent on how many days you have been administering them. We use RENEW® (analkaline electrolyte) on days one and two and RE-SORB® (a base electrolyte) on days three and four. You can compare the contents of various brands to try to duplicate these formulas. If you have only one kind, do not hesitate to use that one. Avoid using an alkaline type for more than 2 or 3 days. There are several recipes available for making your own solution at home, mixing salt and soda. These may be okay but we definitely prefer the commercially prepared mixes.Some come with other various nutrients added; these are excellent also.

On the first two days you can go without milk completely and feed just the electrolyte. Some sources say that after that you can mix milk with the electrolyte. Others say that mixing milk with electrolyte prevents proper curd formation and you should always alternate milk and electrolytes, waiting about 4 hours between each. Some continue giving milk from the very beginning, but I prefer to eliminate the milk for a couple of feedings. Whatever you do, don’t starve the dehydrated animal even though it is terribly runny; you’ve got to keep some sort of liquid going through it.

Some products, sold under names like "Electrolytes Plus®" are made with Sodium Bicarbonate, which is the recommended treatment for "Floppy Kid Syndrome." Intraveous electrolytes

If you think you’re really sharp, this is the best way to get fluids to where they are needed and to do it quickly. It is fairly hard to do in a young debilitated animal, especially if you are not experienced. If you already know how to do it, there is no need for me to describe it here except to remind you to warm the liquid to body temperature and have someone observe the animal for a little while after administration. Be sure to use only products labeled for IV use and in the proper amount.

Subcutaneous electrolyte administration

This is a technique which the amateur can easily master, often with very successful results. The major difficulty nowadays is acquiring the fluids. Most of the mail order suppliers no longer carry injectable electrolyte solutions. A standout exception to this is Pipestone Veterinary Supply where you can buy an injectable electrolyte, "5% Dextrose and Lactated Ringer's." Be sure NOT to inject products labeled for oral use or any homemade remedy. (Most suppliers only have ORAL products available now and in the catalogue the bottle may resemble those intended for IV use, so be careful.)

The solution is administered as follows:

Warm the solution to body temperature. For a newborn kid of about 7 pounds, fill a 60 ml syringe with the solution. Grab the skin along the back near the shoulder. While lifting the skin, insert the needle into the "tent" formed where the skin is raised. Slowly depress the plunger and put about half the contents into this area. Withdraw the needle and go to the other side. Repeat the process there, emptying the syringe. Some of the fluid may leak back out of the injection site. That is not a problem. If you need to inject more fluids, use more sites rather than putting more fluid in the same site.

(For your information, the exact dosage is 20 - 30 ml/kg/hr till urination begins, then 10 - 15 ml/kg/hr.)

Repeat this procedure about every hour until the animal urinates. Then either use half the amount or spread the time to two hours. As soon as it appears strong enough to nurse, you can try to switch to oral electrolytes. After the first day (or even before) you can resume feeding milk. Keep an eye on the urine amount to make sure that it roughly equals the amount going in.

There are dangers to administering too much fluid (muscle cramps, excessive urination, stupor, swollen limbs are a few signs). If you have any doubts, you should definitely consult your veterinarian.

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