Endotoxin shock often accompanies antibiotic treatment of diseases caused by Gram-negative bacteria, usually Escherichia coli. Although it usually plays a contributing rather than a primary role in the disease process, endotoxin is capable of inflicting serious damage to multiple organ systems. In some cases, endotoxin reduces platelet counts and thereby hinders clot formation. In other cases, it may increase bleeding and permeability of the intestinal wall, which makes it easier for the absorption of the endoxin itself and other offending substances that can stimulate allergies. Once produced and released from the small intestine, endotoxin can be absorbed and enter the circulation resulting in a life-threatening condition. Signs of endotoxin shock may include fever, weakness, and swelling of tissues. Affected animals may experience a dramatic decrease in blood pressure and lapse into coma.
Meat meals can be highly contaminated with bacteria because their sources are so many. For example, animals that are the source of meat meal can die because of a bacterial disease. In other cases, meat meals become contaminated during manufacturing process (greater than 50% of meat meal can be contaminated with endotoxin-producing Salmonella). Although, processing pet foods containing meat meal by the expansion-extrusion methods kills bacteria, cooking contaminated meat meal does not destroy endotoxin. However, manufacturers do not measure endotoxin levels in pet foods, possibly because the amounts are thought to be low.
The diet affects endotoxin production. Most pet foods have high concentrations of undigestible matter, thereby supporting aerobic bacteria growth better than other foods. When undigested cellulose or hemicellulose accumulates and ferments in the colon, aerobic bacteria (mostly coliforms) increase 100 to 1000 times. In contrast, polished white rice contains low amounts of undigestible fiber and is more completely digested than other sources of carbohydrate in pet foods. Therefore, by including rice in your pet's diet may reduce growth of endotoxin-producing bacteria and should be included in diets for treatment of digestive tract diseases in dogs. Cultures of lactobacillus are of no value in reducing the numbers of endotoxin-producing bacteria in the digestive system of dogs and cats. Finally, some dogs have genetic defects that interfere with the process of containment of bacterial growth by the immune system causing diarrhea, swelling of tissues, bleeding, vomiting and fever.1-2
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- Donald R. Strombeck. Home-prepared dog & cat diets: a healthful alternative
- Richard A. Kaslow M.D., Janet McNicholl M.D.. Genetic Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases
- Jeffrey C. Pommerville. Alcamo's Fundamentals of Microbiology