Background: Malnutrition is a common problem in critically ill dogs and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in human medicine. Enteral nutrition (EN) delivery methods have been evaluated in humans to determine which is most effective in achieving caloric goals.
Objectives: To compare continuous infusion and intermittent bolus feeding of EN in dogs admitted to a critical care unit.
Animals: Fifty-four dogs admitted to the critical care unit and requiring nutritional support with a nasoenteric feeding tube.
Methods: Prospective randomized clinical trial. Dogs were randomized to receive either continuous infusion (Group C) or intermittent bolus feeding (Group I) of liquid EN. The percentage of prescribed nutrition delivered (PPND) was calculated every 24 hours. Frequencies of gastrointestinal (GI), mechanical, and technical complications were recorded and gastric residual volumes (GRVs) were measured.
Results: PPND was significantly lower in Group C (98.4%) than Group I (100%). There was no significant difference in GI or mechanical complications, although Group C had a significantly higher rate of technical complications. GRVs did not differ significantly between Group C (3.1 mL/kg) and Group I (6.3 mL/kg) and were not correlated with the incidence of vomiting or regurgitation.
Conclusions and Clinical Importance: There was a statistically significant difference in the PPND between continuously and intermittently fed dogs, but this difference is unlikely to be clinically relevant. Critically ill dogs can be successfully supported with either continuous infusion or intermittent bolus feeding of EN with few complications. Increased GRVs may not warrant termination of enteral feeding.