The disease occurs due to the consumption of excessive amount of protein rich concentrate or non protein nitrogenous substance like urea, and is also termed as rumen alkalosis. The disease is characterized by excessive production of ammonia in the rumen that produces gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic, circulatory and nervous disturbances. Exclusive feeding of wheat and paddy straw for a prolonged period also results in alkaline indigestion. Drinking of sewage contaminated water also leads to the disease.
Clinical signs: The signs are not characteristic and vary with the cause and severity. The affected animal suffers from inappetance, dullness and distension of rumen with reduced ruminal contractions. Animal is reluctant to move, dehydrated and mucous membranes are congested. Respiration rate is slow and shallow. Muscular tremors may also be seen. In the terminal stage of the disease there is dyspnoea.
Laboratory diagnosis: Colour of the rumen liquor becomes brownish yellow to deep brown and is watery in consistency. Differential protozoal count of rumen liquor reveals increase in the number of large-sized protozoa (Isotricha sp.). In the terminal stage, there is no motility of rumen protozoa. Cellulolytic and sedimentation activities are absent. The total protozoal count is greatly reduced but the count of Isotricha sp. increases from 26 to 60/ cu mm of strained rumen liquor. Rumen pH is more than 8. Total volatile fatty acids (TVFA) decrease from 72.0 to 50.0mEq/ litre after 30 min.
Treatment: Rumenotorics and stomachic drugs may be given. Rumen pH is corrected by giving dilute acetic acid. Thiamine may be given by intramuscular route for early response. Normal saline by intravenous route is beneficial for early recovery in acute alkaline indigestion.