How an improved dietary electrolyte balance can relieve problems related to heat stress?
It has become common to adjust dEB in the summer months by using sodium bicarbonate. Unfortunately there are also some myths that have built up around this practice, usually summarized as, “the animal needs bicarbonate to combat a lower blood pH due to heat stress.”
Firstly, swine and poultry increase rate of respiration during heat stress in an effort to cool down. The net effect of this is expelling CO2 giving an excess of bicarbonate in the blood, increasing blood pH and ultimately a respiratory alkalosis. So in fact the problem is that they have too high blood pH.
Secondly, orally ingested bicarbonate in sodium bicarbonate is neutralized by stomach acid resulting in CO2 and H2O and an increase in gastric pH.
Increasing dEB, increases sodium, that once absorbed, binds the excess bicarbonate that is in the blood due to the respiratory alkalosis. In this form (NaHCO3) the animal is able to excrete the excess bicarbonate via the kidneys and returning blood pH back to normal.
A secondary effect of the higher sodium is that it stimulates the thirst center, increases water intake and reduces body temperature. So in fact it is the sodium that is the key for handling heat stress.
Learn more about heat stress >>