Four days after Basil arrived at our sanctuary we had to call an emergency vet visit in the middle of the night. He was listless, having diarrhea and not interested in sucking his bottle at all. We could have lost him that night. Let’s go back a few days. The first day he arrived, he seemed fine – energetic, running in the paddock, curious about the other animals. But two days later he developed a bad case of diarrhea. This isn’t uncommon for calves, given the stress of transport and the change in diet. He was getting whole milk at his foster, then milk replacer on the drive down, and back to whole milk here.

It was really scary to see him lose interest in his bottle. He went from eagerly and energetically guzzling down his bottle and wanting more to not even sucking or keeping the bottle in his mouth. A calf can quickly die from dehydration. We tried giving him Pepto Bismol, three different flavors of gatorade, pedialyte…but nothing made a difference.

His diarrhea was severe and we were constantly cleaning his little bottom and trying to keep the flies away from him. Then, he refused to stand up and I knew we needed to take action quickly. The vet was on her way. While we waited, we thought perhaps having Paddington come in and spend time with him would cheer him up and help. As soon as we opened the gate, Paddington made a beeline for Basil. This would be the first time that the two of them were together without a fence in between.

That night the vet showed us how to tube feed Basil. She got his feeding of milk directly into his stomach, as well as medicine and probiotics. Basil didn’t struggle at all. He was so small, she easily picked him and brought him over to the lit stall, inserted the tube and poured in the milk. That night I spent the night in the barn with him to make sure he was going to be ok. We were so relieved the next morning when Basil latched on to the bottle and drank his milk on his own! It’s a little tricky to get the feeding tube in, you have to make sure that it is going down the right opening. I was prepared to do it for him, but was so glad that I didn’t need to.

It took four more days before his stool became more firm, but he continued to drink his milk so we knew he was doing ok. I can’t tell you how many photos of his poops I took those days! Trying to document any changes and in constant contact with our vet. At this point, keeping him clean from all the diarrhea and keeping him loved was our main concern. He required around the clock supervision because we wanted him to have emotional support and company. Receiving love and attention is just as important as food! So we made sure he got plenty of it!

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