Stop Diarrhea In Cattle

Stop Diarrhea in Cattle

Diarrhea in cattle (sometimes also called “scours”) can be caused by simple indigestion or any number of infections from organisms such as Salmonella, especially in cattle already stressed or otherwise sick. Contaminated feed or water supply can also be the culprit. Winter dysentery is sometimes the cause of an outbreak of diarrhea in mature cattle. Other causes of diarrhea include paratuberculosis, copper deficiency, congestive heart failure, uremia, or chronic peritonitis, according to the “Merck Veterinary Manual.” No matter the cause, the most important step in treating scours in to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.


1. Treat dehydration and electrolyte loss with fluids. Consult your vet on the best mixture to help your cow or calf recover lost fluids. According to Oregon State, “Numerous formulas are available commercially that rehydrate, correct pH imbalance, and replace lost electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chlorine, and bicarbonate).” Do not wait too long to begin replacing lost electrolytes as the animal could deteriorate quickly. If dehydration is allowed to continue, intravenous fluid treatment becomes necessary, according to “Cattle Today.”

2. Treat with gut-lining protectors. Some vets recommend kaolin or pectin to help absorb toxins in the intestinal tract and help soothe the gut. These products do not help stop fluid or electrolyte loss.

3. Treat with antibiotics. Depending on the cause, your vet may recommend starting your cow on oral antibiotics. However, according to Oregon State, “Researchers and veterinarians now believe the overall effect of oral antibiotics is detrimental to calves,” so consult your vet on the best way to proceed.

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4. Identify the cause. Your vet may want to take blood or stool samples to help determine additional courses of treatment, such as specific antibiotics.