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Ketosis Treatment: Why Am I Giving This Stuff?

Dr. Sara Barber - Monday, March 27, 2017

Over the past several months, I have been asked many times about ketosis treatments. It is important to understand the basics of what ketosis is and how each part of the treatment works. We don’t have to be fancy when we treat disease, just effective.

Ketosis just means that the cow has too many ketones in her blood stream. What is a ketone? Ketones are “acids” that the body releases from fat when she needs energy. Fresh cows cannot eat enough to meet their energy needs so it is normal for them to mobilize fat for energy. Some level of ketones in the blood is normal. The problem comes when she is very energy deficient and needs to mobilize lots of fat for energy.

The ketones in the blood at high levels suppress appetite and need to be processed by the liver in order to be used for energy. The liver can only work so hard so if too many ketones start coming, then it gets overwhelmed and the ketones are stored (this is how fatty liver starts).

Treating Ketosis:

Dextrose 50%: If the cow has high levels of ketones in the blood (greater than 3.0 on the blood test), then she needs IV Dextrose 50%. The dextrose will be a quick energy source and “push” some of the ketones out of the blood stream. This will help the cow’s appetite. Do not give more than 500 mL of Dextrose at one time. She cannot utilize more than that and will just urinate it out (along with the money you spent on the extra dextrose bottle).

Propylene Glycol: The glycol is an alternate energy source for the cow. She can use this to help overcome the negative energy balance. Glycol should be dosed at 250-300 mL per adult cow once a day for three days. DO NOT give more glycol—it is toxic to the liver in higher doses. More is not better.

Vitamin B Complex: Vitamin B is a liver and appetite stimulant.

Dexamethasone or Predef: These are steroids which stimulant appetite and metabolism. Only give ONE dose to ketotic cows. These steroids are also immune suppressive.

While you are treating this cow, take a moment or two to think about what factors may have put this cow over the edge to ketosis. Prevention is always the best medicine.

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