Do my animals need electrolytes?

From sports drinks to daily wellness supplements, we’re used to electrolytes being part of human health conversations, but do your animals need them?

Just like humans, animals can benefit from electrolyte supplementation for many different reasons. We’re proud to offer two high-quality electrolyte solutions: Sav-A-Caf® Electrolytes PlusÔ Supplement and Sav-A-Chick® Electrolyte & Vitamin Supplement. Electrolytes Plus is formulated for calves, foals, goat kids, lambs, piglets, fawns, elk calves, and llama and alpaca crias, while Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte & Vitamin supplement is formulated for chickens, ducks, geese and other fowl. Let’s take a look at how these products work and when your animals may need them.

How Electrolytes Work

First, it’s important to understand the function of electrolytes in the animal’s body. It’s no coincidence they share a prefix with “electricity.” Electrolytes are minerals — such as sodium, potassium and magnesium — that have either a negative or positive charge, which gives them attraction or repelling properties that affect the absorption of fluids and nutrients. They help regulate fluid balance, blood pressure, muscle contraction and more. Certain circumstances, like exercise, sweating and diarrhea, can cause the body to lose electrolytes. Electrolyte loss can lead to dehydration, which is dangerous for any animal but especially newborn and young animals.

Hydration During Hot Weather

Hot weather is a common cause of dehydration and electrolyte loss. In fact, beef cattle water requirements can double in hot temperatures (90 F) compared to cool temperatures (40 F).1 When summer temperatures rise, monitor your animals closely. Consider offering an electrolyte supplement to help them stay ahead of dehydration and be sure to provide support quickly if you start to notice signs of dehydration.

Support Through Stress

When animals experience stress, their immune systems can get stressed too. Providing an electrolyte supplement can help animals stay hydrated and healthy during weaning, transportation, vaccination or other stressful activities.

When you choose Electrolytes Plus or Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte & Vitamin supplement, you also give your animals a powerful boost of energy, which is important for animals when facing stress. Both supplements contain sugars to help keep your animal active and alert. 

A Boost When Battling Illness

Hydration is critical for helping animals recover from illness. Animals experience rapid water and electrolyte loss when battling diseases that result in diarrhea. For example, calves can lose 5-10% of their body weight in water within 1 day of scouring.2 In addition to electrolytes and sugars Electrolytes Plus also contains added probiotics to help support digestive health that may be interrupted by disease or stress. 

While electrolyte supplements can help, dehydration in baby animals can be very serious. If symptoms worsen or do not improve, the animal may require intravenous (IV) fluid therapy so contact your veterinarian immediately.

How to Feed Electrolytes

Sav-A-Caf electrolyte products are easy to mix and feed. However, they should never be fed in place of or mixed with milk replacer. They should be offered in addition to it. Finally, remember to always provide plenty of fresh water, especially when feeding electrolytes.

Electrolyte supplements are a great solution to keep on hand so you’re always prepared to support your animals in times of stress, illness and hot weather. Find additional tips to help keep your animals happy and healthy and learn more about Sav-A-Caf animal health supplements.

Arispe, S. Water nutrition and quality for beef cattle. Oregon State University Extension. Available at: September 2019. Accessed May 9, 2022.

2 Heinrichs, J., Kehoe, S. Electrolytes for Dairy Calves. Penn State Extension. Available at: May 5, 2016. Accessed May 9, 2022.

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