We examined the effect of progressive nutritional restriction on acid-base balance in seven captive, adult white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from 4 February to 5 May 1988 in north central Minnesota (USA). Metabolic acidosis was indicated by low mean blood pH (7.25 to 7.33) in deer throughout the study. Mean urinary pH values declined (P = 0.020) from a mean (±SE) baseline of 8.3 ± 0.1 to 6.7 ± 0.3 as restriction progressed. Acidemia and aciduria were associated with significant variations in mean blood CO2 (P = 0.006) and pO2 (P = 0.032), serum potassium (P = 0.004) concentrations, and with a significant (P = 0.104) handling date × group interaction in urinary potassium : creatinine values. Mean bicarbonate : carbonic acid ratios were consistently below 20:1 during nutritional restriction. Mean packed cell volume increased (P = 0.019) and serum total protein decreased (P = 0.001); thus there was evidence for progressive dehydration and net protein catabolism, respectively. Blood pCO2, serum sodium, and urinary sodium : creatinine were stable throughout the study. We propose that acidosis and aciduria are metabolic complications associated with nutritional restriction of white-tailed deer.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2