Comparison of various solutions to dissolve critical care diet clots


  • Dr. Parker's present address: Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, 601 Vernon Tharp St, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

  • Dr. Parker's residency funded by P&G Pet Care.

  • No outside funding was used for this study.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • Presented in abstract form at the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition forum in New Orleans, LA in May 2012.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.




Enteral feeding tubes are frequently placed in animals to provide assisted nutritional support; however, one major reported complication is clogging of the tubes. The goal of this study was to determine which solution is most effective at dissolving in vitro clots made using a veterinary canned critical care diet.


Various solutions were tested for their ability to dissolve enteral feed clots, including water, meat tenderizers in water, predetermined amounts of pancreatic enzymes (with and without sodium bicarbonate) in water, carbonated beverages, and cranberry juice.


The solution that resulted in the greatest dissolution was ¼ teaspoon pancreatic enzymes and 325 mg sodium bicarbonate in 5 mL water, which was significantly better than all other solutions (water: P = 0.03; ¼ teaspoon pancreatic enzymes in water: P = 0.002; all others: P < 0.001). Water was significantly better than all carbonated beverages and cranberry juice (P < 0.001). The least successful solution was ½ teaspoon pancreatic enzymes and sodium bicarbonate in water.

Clinical Relevance

Despite anecdotal reports of using carbonated beverages, cranberry juice, and ½ teaspoon pancreatic enzymes to unclog feeding tubes, all were significantly less effective than water. In vivo studies to evaluate the effectiveness of methods to unclog feeding tubes are warranted to further investigate these findings.