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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20843
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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I moved my 2 cows recently from one pasture to another. In

Customer Question

I moved my 2 cows recently from one pasture to another. In the last couple of weeks one of them has lost some weight and she stands in one place for a short periods of time, coughs a couple of times and has very shallow breathing. Considering calling a vet, but thought I would like to first hear with you have to say.
Roxanna Gusweiler
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Does she appear to have any elevation in her breathing rate (compared to her friend)?

Are her gums pink or pale/white?

Any fever or diarrhea/scours?

Any nasal discharge? If so, what color? From one or both nostrils?

Are they up to date with worming? What did you use?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Elevation in breathing seems to happen only when she is standing still. She has had some diarrhea, both the cows have had some diarrhea since I moved them from one pasture to another where the grass was much taller.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
gums are pink - doesn't seem to have abnormal nasal dischargeAnd, no they are not up-to-date with worming.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

Now if her increased respiratory coincides with her standing still, I suspect she is reducing her activity because of her breathing difficulties. This is because not moving or doing less uses up less oxygen and therefore it is easier to meet one's cell's needs despite compromised oxygen uptake. So, if we have a primary respiratory issue (ie upper respiratory tract infection, lungworm, pneumonia, etc) or a condition that compromises getting oxygen to the cells (ie anemia/low blood volume, heart or circulation issues) then this will be why she is standing still when having breathing difficulties.

Now you didn't answer those other questions, but I would note that it is worth checking for fever, nasal discharge, and her gum color. The first 2 signs are common to our infectious concerns. And if those gums are abnormally pale for her, then a low blood level or possible severe issue with taking up oxygen would be suspect and we'd need her vet out urgently. Otherwise, generally speaking, it'd be worth a non-urgent check with her vet if possible. They can test for lungworm (a concern with them being on a new pasture) and advise you if this is present and worming is needed. At the same time, the can make sure the ladies are free of any other worms or flukes that could be compromising their immune systems here and putting this one at risk.

As well and most importantly, they can listen to her chest and airway to confirm if those infectious concerns are present. If they are, then it'd be ideal to treat her with injectable antibiotics, decongestants, +/- bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories to clear the infection and also get her breathing easier. And I would note that if we have a bacterial cause for the diarrhea, the antibiotics can address that too. Though if they are a rich pasture, the diarrhea could be from that and we'd need to think about limiting pasture access or upping their hay/roughage to counter diarrhea from the lush pasture.

Overall, her breathing is a concern here. It sounds like her signs are moderate, but these situations are always best to address early before it gets to a point where she cannot breathe without oxygen support. So, the above would be our concerns here andwe'd need to consider the above treatments for her. And if she is really struggling enough that her breathing is heavy and she is having to reduce activity to cope, we are best to be proactive now before this can progress.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today.Thank you! : )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

PS- I have just seen your second message. I am very glad to hear that we have pink gums (so anemia is less likely and she is at least coping with her current breathing rate). Still, if we have no nasal signs, then a pneumonia (bacterial, viral, or from lungworm) would be our main concerns here.

All the best,

Dr. B.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Roxanna,
I'm just following up on our conversation about None - I Just Call The 2 Of Them "My Girls". How is everything going?
Dr. B.