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J Vet Intern Med. 2003 Nov-Dec;17(6):791-8.

Effect of early enteral nutrition on intestinal permeability, intestinal protein loss, and outcome in dogs with severe parvoviral enteritis.

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Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa.


A randomized, controlled clinical trial investigated the effect of early enteral nutrition (EN) on intestinal permeability, intestinal protein loss, and outcome in parvoviral enteritis. Dogs were randomized into 2 groups: 15 dogs received no food until vomiting had ceased for 12 hours (mean 50 hours after admission; NPO group), and 15 dogs received early EN by nasoesophageal tube from 12 hours after admission (EEN group). All other treatments were identical. Intestinal permeability was assessed by 6-hour urinary lactulose (L) and rhamnose (R) recoveries (%L, %R) and L/R recovery ratios. Intestinal protein loss was quantified by fecal alpha1-proteinase inhibitor concentrations (alpha1-PI). Median time to normalization of demeanor, appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea was 1 day shorter for the EEN group for each variable. Body weight increased insignificantly from admission in the NPO group (day 3: 2.5 +/- 2.8%; day 6: 4.3 +/- 2.3%; mean +/- SE), whereas the EEN group exhibited significant weight gain (day 3: 8.1 +/- 2.7%; day 6: 9.7 +/- 2.1%). Mean urinary %L was increased, %R reduced, and L/R recovery ratios increased compared to reference values throughout the study for both groups. Percent lactulose recovery decreased in the EEN group (admission: 22.6 +/- 8.0%; day 6: 17.9 +/- 2.3%) and increased in the NPO group (admission: 11.0 +/- 2.6%; day 6: 22.5 +/- 4.6%, P = .035). Fecal alpha1-PI was above reference values in both groups and declined progressively. No significant differences occurred for %R, L/R ratios, or alpha1-PI between groups. Thirteen NPO dogs and all EEN dogs survived (P = .48). The EEN group showed earlier clinical improvement and significant weight gain. The significantly decreased %L in the EEN versus NPO group might reflect improved gut barrier function, which could limit bacterial or endotoxin translocation.

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