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Open Access Research article

Molecular analysis of the microbiota in hard feces from healthy rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) medicated with long term oral meloxicam

David Eshar1 and J Scott Weese2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506, USA

2 Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2 W1, Canada

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:62  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-62

Published: 11 March 2014



Analgesia is often indicated in rabbits undergoing surgical procedures or suffering from various painful conditions and the most common adverse effects associated with NSAIDs occur in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The objective of this study was to determine the potential effect of long-term (21 days) meloxicam administration on the fecal bacterial microbiota in healthy rabbits.

Samples of hard feces were collected from six rabbits treated with meloxicam (1 mg/kg orally once every 24 h) on days 0,6,14 and 21. Next generation sequencing of V4 16S rRNA gene products was performed.


A total of 2589912 V4 rRNA gene sequences passed all quality control filters. Firmicutes predominated (82.0 ± 6.2%). Sixteen other phyla were also identified but other than Verrucomicrobia (4.4 ± 4.9%), all accounted for less than 1% of the identified sequences. Within Firmicutes, Clostridia was the dominant class, accounting for 76% of operational taxon units (OTUs). In general, there were only few differences observed between time points and different rabbits at the phylum level. A significant change was observed in the relative abundance of Proteobacteria over the 4 time points (P = 0.02).


The gastrointestinal tract of rabbits harbors dense and diverse microbiota. Significant alteration of the hard fecal microbiota does not appear to be a considerable adverse effect expected in rabbits treated for 21 days with oral meloxicam at a dose of 1 mg/kg.

Microbiome; Rabbits; Gastrointestinal tract; Feces; 16S RNA; Meloxicam; Oryctolagus cuniculus