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A round-up of recently published papers in the field of nutrition

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01 April 2017, at 12:00am

Effects of a light meal on gastro-oesophageal reflux in dogs during surgery 

Ionnis Savvas and others, University of Thessalonika, Greece

Gastro-oesophageal reflux is a major complication of general anaesthesia and may have devastating consequences should it result in pulmonary aspiration of the gastric contents. Surgery patients are generally denied food for several hours to avoid such problems, but there is growing evidence that limiting the fasting time may reduce the incidence of intra-operative reflux. 

The authors examined the effects of two different pre-operative fasting times on the incidence of reflux in 120 dogs which received tinned food either three or 10 hours before being premedicated for general anaesthesia. The premedication used was propionylpromazine, while anaesthesia was induced with thiopental sodium and maintained with halothane. A pH electrode was introduced into the oesophagus and a pH of below 4 or greater than 7.5 was considered as evidence of reflux. 

Three dogs in the three-hour feeding group and 12 in the 10-hour group had a reflux incident during the anaesthesia. The authors suggest that giving a half-daily ration of a normal diet three hours before surgery may offer clinical benefits. 

Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 52 (6): 357-363.

A microalgae-based nutritional product alters insulin sensitivity in horses 

Kristin Brennan and others, Alltech Inc., Nicholasville, Kentucky 

Insulin resistance describes a physiological process in which the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake in skeletal muscle is reduced. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in rodents with experimentally induced resistance. The authors investigated the effects of a dietary supplement produced from marine microalgae that is rich in docosahexaenoic acid on measures of insulin sensitivity in horses with experimental changes induced by prolonged dexamethasone treatment. The supplement was associated with improved plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and insulin sensitivity estimates. Further studies are needed to assess the potential role of this product in the nutritional management of insulinresistant horses. 

American Journal of Veterinary Research 76 (10): 889-896. 

Owners’ perceptions of body condition scores in pleasure horses in Australia 

Samantha Potter and others, University of Melbourne, Victoria 

Obesity, defined as a body condition score of 7 or more on the 9-point Henneke scale, has a high prevalence of up to 50% in pleasure horses and ponies in the UK and US. The authors carried out the first similar study of Australian horses, together with an examination of the owners’ perceptions of the body condition scores of their animals. The overall prevalence of obesity among 229 equids was 24.5%, with a higher proportion in Shetland ponies (71.5%) and other pony breeds (32%). Owners frequently underestimated their own animals’ body condition score. Education to guide more realistic perceptions may help reduce the incidence of conditions like insulin dysregulation and laminitis. 

Australian Veterinary Journal 94 (11): 427- 432. 

Use of serum betahydroxybutyrate to identify anorexic piglets 

Amanda Perri and others, University of Guelph, Ontario 

Weaning in piglets can alter their behaviour and intestinal structure, sometimes resulting in life-threatening anorexia. When piglets are housed in large groups, it may be difficult for stockmen to identify those animals that are not eating. The authors investigated the role of serum beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) to identify anorexic piglets. Blood samples were taken from individuals showing other clinical signs of anorexia, loss of body condition and abnormal repetitive behaviour, known as chomping. However, most piglets selected as anorexic on the basis of their clinical signs were found to have normal BHB levels. 

Canadian Veterinary Journal 57 (11): 1,143- 1,148.

Pet owners’ satisfaction with a high protein-low carbohydrate diet for growing dogs 

Gwendoline Chaix and others, Virbac, Carros, France 

The ancestors of the domestic dog would have eaten a diet in which most of the calories were derived from protein and lipids, unlike modern commercial diets, which may contain a considerable proportion of carbohydrates. There is some evidence to show that high protein/ low carbohydrate diets may improve bodyweight and composition and enhance glycaemia regulation. The authors assessed the response of dog owners to their juvenile pets receiving a novel commercial diet based on this formula. Respondents to the survey were happy with their pets’ response to the transition diet and reported no significant problems with digestibility.

International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 14 (2): 190-202. 

Assessment of intestinal alkaline phosphatase levels in canine chronic enteropathy 

Kaori Ide and others, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan 

Chronic enteropathy is one of the most common causes of vomiting and diarrhoea in small animals although its pathogenesis is still poorly understood. It may occur with or without evidence of intestinal inflammation and is usually diagnosed by excluding other potential causes of gastrointestinal signs. The authors examined the use of intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) measures to distinguish between healthy dogs and those with chronic enteropathy. Measures of active IAP were detected in the faeces of all dogs but the expression and activity of the enzyme were lower in the affected animals than in the controls. 

American Journal of Veterinary Research 77 (7): 721-729.

Effect of dietary fibre source on growth performance and intestinal microflora in piglets 

Seung-Jin Lee and others, Kyungpook National University, South Korea 

Dietary fibre plays a number of different roles in pig nutrition and a minimum level may be necessary to maintain normal physiological function of the gut. The authors examined the effects of different sources of dietary fibre, namely rice bran and sawdust, on growth performance and intestinal microflora. Their results indicate that high levels of sawdust in piglet diets can negatively affect growth and health. However, when mixed with other fibre sources, this component may provide a cost-effective alternative source of dietary fibre with beneficial effects on intestinal microflora and growth. 

International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 14 (2): 135-142. 

Client perceptions of a new dietetic weight management food for obese cats 

Undine Christmann and others, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine 

Obesity has become one of the most frequently identified health problems in cats, leading to a variety of secondary conditions such as diabetes and lower urinary tract disease. The authors tested a novel weight control diet on 132 overweight client-owned cats and assessed the owners’ perceptions of its effects on the animals’ quality of life. In 83% of participants there was a reduction in weight, averaging 11% over the six-month treatment period. The owners of 79% of these cats were given more calories in their diet than recommended by the manufacturers and yet the majority still lost weight. Owners perceived an improvement in the pets’ demeanour and energy levels, without changes in appetite or begging behaviour. 

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 18 (12): 947-953. 

Influence on meat quality of flaxseed and α-tocopherol acetate in the diet of chickens

Rashida Parveen and others, Faisalabad University of Agriculture, Pakistan 

Increasing consumer demand for healthier food is driving efforts by the broiler industry to develop methods for growing poultry meat with higher protein, lower fat and increased n-3 fatty acid levels. The authors examined the influence on meat quality of supplementing the diet of broilers with extruded flaxseed and α-tocopherol acetate. Their results show that the fat content in breast and leg meat decreased as the inclusion level of extruded flaxseed increased. The fat content was lower in leg than in breast meat and the polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio was also higher. Pre-slaughter mortality decreased in all groups of broilers receiving the supplemented diet. 

British Poultry Science 57 (4): 566-575. 

Effect of a high fat diet on insulin sensitivity and adipokine concentrations in horses

Nick Bamford and others, University of Melbourne, Australia 

Pasture-associated laminitis is a significant cause of disease in horses with obesity and insulin dysregulation recognised as major risk factors. However, the relative influence of obesity and adaptation to high glycaemic diets on the development of insulin dysregulation is unclear. To determine the role of increased adiposity in this process, the authors gave 18 horses a high fat diet, with or without a once-daily glucosebased meal. Their results showed that increased adiposity did not reduce insulin sensitivity in either the high fat or high glycaemic diet groups. This suggests that obesity is not responsible per se for changes in insulin sensitivity. Also once-daily glucose, surprisingly, appeared to increase insulin sensitivity. 

Equine Veterinary Journal 48 (3): 368-373. 

Digestibility of two raw diets in domestic kittens 

Beth Hamper and others, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

A potential advantage of raw food diets is that heat processing may lead to a loss of bioactive compounds and some loss of nutritional value. However, in domestic cats there is little published data on the nutrient digestibility of raw food. The authors compared a range of digestibility parameters for one commercial and one home-made raw diet in kittens, against a canned, heatprocessed food. Their findings showed that both raw diets had significantly higher digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, protein and energy, compared with the processed food. This resulted in those kittens producing significantly less faecal matter. 

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 18 (12): 991-996.