Open Access Research article

Impact of diets with a high content of greaves-meal protein or carbohydrates on faecal characteristics, volatile fatty acids and faecal calprotectin concentrations in healthy dogs

Ingrid Hang1*, Romy M Heilmann2, Niels Grützner2, Jan S Suchodolski2, Jörg M Steiner2, Faik Atroshi1, Satu Sankari1, Anu Kettunen3, Willem M de Vos45, Jürgen Zentek6 and Thomas Spillmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

2 Gastrointestinal Laboratory, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A & M University, 4474 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA

3 Savcor Group Ltd, Mikkeli, Finland

4 Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

5 Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

6 Institute of Animal Nutrition, Section of Veterinary Medicine, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:201  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-201

Published: 9 October 2013



Research suggests that dietary composition influences gastrointestinal function and bacteria-derived metabolic products in the dog colon. We previously reported that dietary composition impacts upon the faecal microbiota of healthy dogs. This study aims at evaluating the dietary influences on bacteria-derived metabolic products associated with the changes in faecal microbiota that we had previously reported. We fed high-carbohydrate starch based (HCS), [crude protein: 194 g/kg, starch: 438 g/kg], high-protein greaves-meal (HPGM), [crude protein: 609 g/kg, starch: 54 g/kg] and dry commercial (DC), [crude protein: 264 g/kg, starch: 277 g/kg] diets, and studied their effects on the metabolism of the colonic microbiota and faecal calprotectin concentrations in five Beagle dogs, allocated according to the Graeco-Latin square design. Each dietary period lasted for three weeks and was crossed-over with washout periods. Food intake, body weight, and faecal consistency scores, dry matter, pH, ammonia, volatile fatty acids (VFAs), and faecal canine calprotectin concentrations were determined.


Faecal ammonia concentrations decreased with the HCS diet. All dogs fed the HPGM diet developed diarrhoea, which led to differences in faecal consistency scores between the diets. Faecal pH was higher with the HPGM diet. Moreover, decreases in propionic and acetic acids coupled with increases in branched-chain fatty acids and valeric acid caused changes in faecal total VFAs in dogs on the HPGM diet. Faecal canine calprotectin concentration was higher with the HPGM diet and correlated positively with valeric acid concentration.


The HPGM diet led to diarrhoea in all dogs, and there were differences in faecal VFA profiles and faecal canine calprotectin concentrations.

Canine; The metabolism of the colonic microbiota; Volatile fatty acids; Faecal canine calprotectin