Internal medicines

There are many diseases that can affect cattle. There are some regional differences; bovine diseases can be specific to certain areas or can be present globally.

Bovine respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal issues in cattle, diarrhoea in cows and calves and metabolic disorders are one of the most common diseases, with a major impact on the welfare and productivity of cattle. With increased herd sizes the need for good herd management arose, with veterinarians playing a key role as on-farm consultants.

Integrated approach

Dechra offers the right set of tools for any problem.

Internal medicines in Cattle - Dechra's integrated approach

Causes for diseases in cattle

With the transition towards larger farms, animal housing circumstances have changed dramatically. This has contributed to new contagious patterns: Previously nonproblematic conditions emerge whilst others disappear. In addition, milk yield per cow continues to increase, making the cows more demanding in breeding and management. The local climate and housing conditions are major risk factors due to their effects on the immune system.

Early symptoms of cattle illnesses

With evolving technology, many herd monitoring tools have been developed. Especially in large herds, these solutions ease monitoring animal health status day to day. Properly managed, they assist in observing the very first signs of disease. Early detection and proper diagnosis play a significant role in successful treatment. Scheduled and frequent veterinarian visits improve herd health monitoring.


Successful and precise treatment requires strong cooperation between a farmer and a veterinarian. In most cases it is essential to start the treatment just after observing the first signs of an animal being unwell. Depending on the condition, in most cases treatment of cows consists of anti-infective, antiphlogistic and supportive treatment. In the course of some diseases it is advised to separate sick animals from healthy housemates.

Dechra supports and encourages the responsible use of veterinary pharmaceutical products. Check the treatment options and guidelines with your veterinarian.

Practical implications 

Data is abundantly available in many dairy farms. Besides smart farming equipment, most milking systems are equipped with data collection systems that provide useful information about each cow's milk yield. A drop in milk production is one of the most universal signs that the cow’s health is at risk.

Routine veterinarian visits are essential to check the health status of the herd, to provide treatment at the right time and to ensure animal wellbeing by preventing the spread of disease (isolation of sick animals).

There are many products registered for use in cattle. Choosing the right product for the right animal requires proper examination and diagnosis, as well as knowledge of common pathogens and their susceptibility in the herd.

Therefore, all treatments should be recorded to develop a disease management protocol to standardize the common approach. This is especially important when many people are involved in treating animals. Some complex diseases, such as BRD (Bovine Respiratory Disease), are caused by a combination of many pathogens. In case of multifactorial diseases, broad spectrum antibiotics should be included in treatment protocol. To ensure responsible use of antibiotics, treatment should be prescribed only when signs of disease are observed and should be limited to the group of animals to be treated at that time.

First-line treatment is preferably carried out with category D antibiotics (according to the EMA classification). If possible, individual treatment (parenteral administration) is preferred to group treatment (i.e., oral treatment in the feed), this also supports the responsible use of antibiotics.