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Digestive sensitivity varies according to size of dogs: a review

Weber, M. P., Biourge, V. C., Nguyen, P. G.
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2017 v.101 no.1 pp. 1-9
beet pulp, breeds, byproducts, cecum, cellulose, colon, constipation, diet, dogs, feces, fermentation, flour, grains, ingredients, permeability, proteins, sodium, starch
Field observations on food tolerance have repeatedly shown that when fed an identical diet, large breed (>25 kg) dogs present softer and moister faeces than small breed ones (<15 kg). The purpose of this review is to highlight the findings of four PhD theses, carried out between 1998 and 2013, whose objectives were to investigate the anatomical and physiological peculiarities that would explain, at least in part, this observation, as well as their nutritional implication. This work showed that large breed dogs, in contrast with smaller breeds, present a highly developed caecum and colon, which could explain the relatively longer colonic transit time. A prolonged colonic transit time could explain higher colonic fermentative activity, as supported by higher faecal concentrations of fermentative by‐products. This effect would be reinforced by increased intestinal permeability and reduced sodium net‐absorption. Taken together, these elements could be a possible cause of higher digestive sensitivity in large breed dogs. When prescribing a diet to a small or large breed dog, several aspects of the formulation must be taken into account. For a large breed dog, the general goal is to limit any ingredient that could increase the level of fermentable undigested residues and, in fine, exacerbate colonic fermentation. Highly digestible sources of proteins and starches are therefore strongly recommended to maintain an optimal digestive tolerance. Fermentable fibre sources (i.e. beet pulp and FOS) must also be used in limited quantity in their diet. Conversely, the incorporation of non‐fermentable fibre (i.e. cellulose) appears useful to increase their stool quality. For a small breed dog, the general objective is to minimize any ingredient that could excessively limit colonic fermentation and induce in fine constipation. Purified starches and cellulose are therefore not really suitable for them. In contrast, cereals flours as well as non‐fermentable fibre provided by cereals are recommended.