Animal Diseases and Surgery
Anatomy, Pharmacology and Hygiene
Veterinary Public Health
4. Meat Hygiene and Technology
5. LPT Milk

Indigestion

It is a condition of impaired digestion.There will be upper abdominal discomfort, described as burning sensation, bloating or gassiness, nausea or feeling full too quickly after starting to eat.

Etiology:

  • Almost any dietary factor that can alter the intraruminal environment can cause simple indigestion.

  • The animal may suddenly eat excessive quantities of highly palatable feeds such as corn or grass silage,indigestible, poor-quality roughage, straw, bedding, or grain.

  • Simple indigestion is usually associated with a sudden change in the pH of the ruminal contents, such as a decrease in ruminal pH due to rapid fermentation of ingested carbohydrates or an increase in ruminal pH due to forestomach hypomotility and putrefaction of ingested feed.

Clinical Findings:

  • Clinical signs depend on the type of animal affected and cause of the disorder. Overfeeding of silage causes anorexia and a moderate drop in milk production in dairy cattle.

  • The rumen is usually full, firm, and doughy; primary contractions are decreased in rate or absent, but secondary contractions may be present although usually decreased in strength.

  • Temperature, pulse, and respiration are normal. The feces are normal to firm in consistency but reduced in amount. Recovery usually is spontaneous within 24–48 hr.

Diagnosis:

A diagnosis of simple indigestion is based on a history of an abrupt change in the nature or amount of the diet, multiple animals being affected, and most importantly the exclusion of other causes of forestomach dysfunction. The diagnosis is confirmed by collection and examination of ruminal fluid, which may have an abnormal pH (<6 or >7), decrease in the numbers and size of protozoa, or prolonged methylene blue reduction time (a measure of bacterial metabolic activity).

Treatment:

Treatment is aimed at correcting the suspected dietary factors. Spontaneous recovery is usual when animals are fed a typical ruminant diet. Administration of ~20 L of warm water or saline via a stomach tube, followed by vigorous kneading of the rumen, may help restore rumen function in adult cattle.

Magnesium hydroxide PO may be useful when excessive amounts of grain have been ingested, but magnesium hydroxide should only be administered to cattle documented to have low ruminal pH (<6); otherwise, excessive forestomach and systemic alkalinization can result. Purported rumenatorics (eg, nux vomica, ginger, tartar emetic, parasympathomimetics) are not recommended as ancillary treatments.

If too much urea or protein has been ingested, vinegar (acetic acid) may be administered PO to return rumen pH to the normal range. If the number or activity of ruminal microbes is reduced, administration of 4–8 L of ruminal fluid from a healthy cow will help. Oral or intravenous electrolyte solutions may be needed to correct electrolyte and acid-base abnormalities, particularly in dehydrated cattle

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