Objectives—To compare abomasal emptying rates in calves after suckling milk replacer or 3 common orally administered electrolyte solution components.
Animals—5 male calves < 35 days of age.
Procedures—Calves with a cannula fitted in the abomasal body were fed 2 L of milk replacer with or without parenteral administration of atropine (0.01 mg/kg, IV, then 0.02 mg/ kg, SC, q 30 min) or isotonic (150mM) solutions of sodium acetate, NaHCO3, or NaCl in a randomized crossover design. Abomasal emptying rates were determined via scintigraphy, acetaminophen absorption, ultrasonography, and change in abomasal luminal pH.
Results—Scintigraphic half-emptying time, time of maximal plasma acetaminophen concentration, ultrasonographic half-emptying time, and pH return time indicated similar abomasal emptying rates following suckling of isotonic sodium acetate, NaHCO3, and NaCl solutions, whereas the emptying rate of milk replacer was significantly slower. Mean maximal abomasal luminal pH was highest following suckling of NaHCO3 (pHmax = 7.85) and lowest following suckling of NaCl (pHmax = 4.52); sodium acetate (pHmax = 6.59) and milk replacer (pHmax = 5.84) yielded intermediate pH values.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Isotonic solutions of sodium acetate, NaHCO3, and NaCl were rapidly emptied from the abomasum but varied markedly in their ability to alkalinize the abomasum. Sodium bicarbonate–containing orally administered electrolyte solution might increase the frequency of infection or severity of clinical disease in diarrheic calves treated for dehydration by causing prolonged abomasal alkalinization.