Can supplementary dietary fibre limit absorption of fat in dogs?

Take-home message: The dietary fibre Alpha-cyclodextrin (ACD) has the potential to reduce blood cholesterol concentrations in dogs with high cholesterol levels, however its consumption only leads to a small decrease in fat absorption.

The increase in overweight or obese dogs has led to the need to look for safe and practical ways to lose or maintain body weight either through exercise, dietary energy intake restriction or nutritional supplements.

Alpha-cyclodextrin (ACD) is a dietary fibre with the unique ability to bind nine-times its own weight in fat.

However, because ACD is not digested and absorbed in the small intestine, with most of it reaching the large bowel, scientists were concerned that it may not be tolerated by the gut, leading to issues such as flatulence, loose stools and nausea.

A new study published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to measure the chemical composition of ACD as well as its effect on gastrointestinal tolerance, nutrient digestion, and blood fat levels in dogs.

Nine mixed-breed dogs were included in the study.  There were fed twice-daily a diet formulated to meet or exceed the recommended nutritional profile, consisting of poultry by-product meal and brewer’s rice.

Dogs were supplemented immediately after feeding with 0, 3, or 6g of ACD diluted in water twice per day to achieve a total of 0, 6, and 12g ACD per day.

The researchers, from the University of Illinois, reported that the average daily food intake and the faecal dry matter output of dogs consuming ACD were not drastically affected, with only a slight, but significant, increase in water content.

Furthermore, whilst consumption of ACD appears to be well tolerated by dogs, body weight, condition score and serum triglycerides and cholesterol concentrations remained unaltered throughout the duration of the experiment.

Scientist Dr Marcial Guevara reported that after consuming ACD its effect on reducing fat digestibility appears to be not as strong as described in previous studies.

Ingesting ACD decreased blood total cholesterol (TC) concentrations in dogs with high levels of cholesterol, but didn’t reduce serum TC concentrations in dogs with normal cholesterol levels, which Dr Guevara suggested was probably due to a self-limiting mechanism that prevents cholesterol concentration from dropping too low.

The researchers concluded that ACD supplementation resulted in a small decrease in fat digestibility, but ACD supplementation might have potential in modifying serum lipid profiles.

By Joanne Stocks, University of Nottingham

Full details: M. A. Guevara, L. L. Bauer, K. A. Garleb, G. C. Fahey and M. R. C. de Godoy, Journal of Animal Science Vol. 93 No. 5, p. 2201-2207