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Effect of lactulose and Psyllium husk supplementation on volatile fatty acid content in the faeces of healthy dogs
Talabér Rebeka Réka - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Physiology and Biochemistry
Supervisors: Dr. Zsuzsanna Neogrády, Dr. Ágnes Sterczer


The composition of the intestinal microbiome of dogs can be influenced by a number of factors. Of these, certain feeding factors are very important, such as non-starch polysaccharides, certain oligo- and disaccharides, which cannot be digested by enzymes produced by the dog, they are only decomposed by bacterial enzymes during intestinal anaerobic microbial fermentation. This results in the formation of various short chain fatty acids (also known as volatile fatty acids). The 3 major forms of volatile fatty acids are acetic acid, propionic acid and n-butyric acid, playing a central role in maintaining the balance of the intestinal flora and affecting the health of the host through various metabolic processes.

In our work, we studied the extent to which lactulose and Psyllium husk (hereinafter psyllium), widely used in pet practice, are able to influence the production of volatile fatty acids by the canine intestinal microbiome. Thirty healthy beagle dogs were kept on a standard diet for 15 days, during which time 15 animals received oral lactulose (Laevolac 670 mg / ml syrup, 1 ml / kg) once a day, while the other 15 animals received psyllium supplemented diet (0.2 g / kg). At the beginning of the experiment (day 0, control sampling) and on days 5, 10 and 15, faeces were sampled from the rectum of the animals, and the concentration of each volatile fatty acid was determined by GC-MS.

Our results showed that lactulose administration on days 10 and 15 of the experiment caused a significant increase in the amount of total volatile fatty acids in the faeces compared to the control value; however, in case of psyllium supplementation the total amount of volatile fatty acids showed a significant increase only on day 15. Examining the concentration of each volatile fatty acid, the amount of acetate and propionate increased significantly on day 5, 10 and 15 of the experiment, and the concentration of butyrate decreased significantly on day 5. During psyllium administration, a significant increase in the amount of acetate and propionate was observed only on day 15 of the experiment, and at the same time the amount of butyrate also increased significantly.

Based on all this, it can be concluded that both lactulose and psyllium are suitable for increasing the production of volatile fatty acids in the intestines of dogs. There was an increase in acetate and propionate following the administration of both supplements; however, an increase in butyrate production with the highest biological activity was observed only after psyllium treatment, suggesting that psyllium may be more beneficial in dogs.

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