Rehydration: The right start for animal orphans

By Angela Kramer, Melk voor Dieren

Do you need to hand-rear a young animal? Do not immediately give it a milk feed; instead, start with Rehydration Electrolyte Mix. Most orphaned animals are found in a stressed and dehydrated state, with or without signs of hypothermia. In this condition, the digestive system is unable to function correctly and these animals will not be able to digest milk properly.

The first priority is to bring the body temperature close to a source of heat. The animal must also be given time to get used to its new environment. But it is also important to hydrate the animal. You can give water, but adding a little Rehydration is a much better solution.

Take one scoop (10 ml / 6 g) of Rehydration and mix it with 100 ml of water. The result is an isotonic electrolyte solution that helps to replenish lost salts and sugars in the body. Give the animal as much Rehydration as it wants to drink every hour.

Data from rescue centres shows that animals that are given an electrolyte solution in the first 12 to 24 hours do better than animals that do not receive electrolytes at the start.

Only after this period of stabilisation should you carefully begin with milk. Start with 75% Rehydration and 25% prepared milk. The next feed can consist of 50% Rehydration and 50% milk. Continue to reduce the electrolyte solution in stages.

Pay close attention to the animal’s stool and urine. These are important indicators that will tell you how your animal is doing.

Very dehydrated animals will benefit from a subcutaneous infusion. Always consult a veterinarian or contact your nearest animal rescue centre for advice.

You can buy Rehydration Electrolyte Mix. It’s easy to order  - together with milk powder, teats and other supplies - at