Are carnivore digestive separation mechanisms revealed on structure-rich diets?: Faecal inconsistency in dogs (Canis familiaris) fed day old chicks

Annelies De Cuyper, M. Clauss, Myriam Hesta, An Cools, G. Bosch, W.H. Hendriks, Geert P.J. Janssens

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Abstract

Pronounced variations in faecal consistency have been described anecdotally for some carnivore species fed a structure-rich diet. Typically two faecal consistencies are distinguished, namely hard and firm versus liquid and viscous faeces. It is possible that a separation mechanism is operating in the carnivore digestive tract, as in many herbivore species. Six beagle dogs were fed two experimental diets in a cross-over design of 7 days. Test diets consisted of chunked day old chicks differing only in particle size (fine = 7.8 mm vs coarse = 13 mm) in order to vary dietary structure. Digestive retention time was measured using titanium oxide (TiO2) as marker. The total faecal output was scored for consistency and faecal fermentation profiles were evaluated through faecal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) and ammonia (NH3) analyses. A total of 181 faecal samples were collected. Dietary particle size did not affect faecal consistency, fermentative end products nor mean retention time (MRT). However, a faecal consistency dichotomy was observed with firm faeces (score 2–2.5) and soft faeces (score 4–4.5) being the most frequently occurring consistencies in an almost alternating pattern in every single dog. Firm and soft faeces differed distinctively in fermentative profiles. Although the structure difference between diets did not affect the faecal dichotomy, feeding whole prey provoked the occurrence of the latter which raises suspicion of a digestive separation mechanism in the canine digestive tract. Further faecal characterisation is however required in order to unravel the underlying mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0192741
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2018

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