Diarrhea in cattle

Diarrhea in cattle: Signs And Medicines

Diarrhea in cattle can be caused by various factors, including infectious agents, dietary issues, stress, or underlying health conditions.

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites such as E. coli, Salmonella, rotavirus, and coccidia can cause diarrhea in cattle. Abrupt changes in diet, ingestion of toxic plants, or contaminated feed can lead to digestive upset and diarrhea.

Transport, handling, overcrowding, or environmental changes can stress cattle and compromise their digestive health, leading to diarrhea.

Diarrhea in cattle

Diarrhea is particularly common in calves and can be caused by inadequate colostrum intake, inadequate nutrition, or exposure to pathogens.

Worm infestations, such as those caused by worms like Ostertagia, can result in diarrhea and poor overall health in cattle.

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are common pathogens that can cause diarrhea in cattle.

E. coli

Certain strains of E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea in cattle. This is often associated with calf scours, a condition characterized by severe diarrhea in young calves. E. coli can also cause diarrhea in older cattle, particularly if they are stressed or immunocompromised.

Salmonella bacteria

Salmonella bacteria can infect cattle and lead to diarrhea, fever, and systemic illness. Salmonella infection in cattle can be a concern not only for their health but also for human health, as it can be transmitted to humans through contaminated food products.


Coccidia are protozoan parasites that can infect the intestines of cattle, leading to diarrhea and poor growth. Calves are particularly susceptible to coccidiosis, especially during periods of stress or overcrowding.

Coccidiosis can cause significant economic losses in the cattle industry due to decreased weight gain and treatment costs.


Signs of diarrhea in cattle can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

Diarrhea is characterized by loose or watery feces that may vary in color and consistency. The feces may be more liquid than usual and may contain mucus or blood in severe cases.

Cattle with diarrhea may defecate more frequently than normal, and they may strain while passing feces.

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so signs such as sunken eyes, dry muzzle, and skin tenting (when the skin does not spring back into place after being pinched) may be present.

Cattle with diarrhea may appear weak, lethargic, and reluctant to move or eat. Diarrhea can cause a decrease in appetite, leading to reduced feed intake and weight loss.

Cattle with diarrhea may have a dull or rough hair coat due to dehydration and poor nutrition. Cattle may exhibit signs of abdominal discomfort, such as kicking at their belly, lying down more often, or standing with an arched back.

Diarrheal feces may have a particularly strong or foul odor due to the presence of abnormal bacteria or undigested feed. In lactating cows, diarrhea can lead to a decrease in milk production.

Prolonged or severe diarrhea can weaken the immune system, making cattle more susceptible to secondary infections and other health problems.

Antidiarrheal drugs for cattle

here are several antidiarrheal drugs that may be used in cattle under the guidance of a veterinarian. Here are some common types of antidiarrheal drugs used in cattle.

Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS)

ORS formulations contain electrolytes and fluids to help rehydrate cattle suffering from diarrhea. These solutions help replace lost fluids and electrolytes, aiding in the recovery of dehydrated animals.


In cases where bacterial infections are suspected or confirmed as the cause of diarrhea, antibiotics may be prescribed by a veterinarian. Common antibiotics used in cattle include tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and fluoroquinolones.


Kaolin and pectin are often used together as a combination treatment for diarrhea in cattle. Kaolin acts as an absorbent, binding toxins and irritants in the gastrointestinal tract, while pectin helps to firm up the stool.


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of the gut microbiota in cattle suffering from diarrhea. They may be administered orally or added to the feed to promote gastrointestinal health and aid in recovery.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as flunixin meglumine may be used to reduce inflammation and discomfort associated with diarrhea in cattle.

However, NSAIDs should be used cautiously and only under veterinary supervision due to the risk of gastrointestinal ulceration and other side effects.


In conclusion, diarrhea in cattle can be caused by various factors, including infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites like E. coli, Salmonella, rotavirus, and coccidia.

Managing and preventing diarrhea in cattle involves a multifaceted approach, including proper hygiene, vaccination, parasite control, and prompt veterinary care.

While antidiarrheal drugs such as oral rehydration solutions, kaolin-pectin, bismuth compounds, antibiotics, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs may be used under veterinary guidance, they should always be part of a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual needs of the affected animals.

Early intervention, appropriate management practices, and veterinary oversight are essential for minimizing the impact of diarrhea on cattle health and welfare.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *