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Low levels of carnitine in overweight Labradors

Last changed: 05 July 2019

The prevalence of overweight is increasing in dogs, but the metabolic events related to this condition are still poorly understood. The purpose of the study was to investigate the postprandial response of plasma metabolites using a meal-challenge test and to identify metabolic variations related to spontaneous overweightness in privately owned dogs.


Twenty-eight healthy male intact Labrador Retriever dogs were included, 12 of which were classified as lean (body condition score (BCS) 4–5 on a 9-point scale) and 16 as overweight (BCS 6–8). After an overnight fast (14–17 h), blood samples were collected and dogs were thereafter fed a high-fat meal. Postprandial blood samples were collected hourly four times. Plasma metabolites were identified by nuclear magnetic resonance. Postprandial metabolomes differed from the fasting metabolome in multivariate discriminant analysis (PLS-DA: Q2Y = 0.31–0.63, cross-validated ANOVA: P ≤ 0.00014) Eleven metabolites, all amino acids, contributed to the separations. Carnitine was identified as a metabolite related to overweight (stepwise logistic regression analysis P ≤ 0.03) and overweight dogs had overall lower carnitine response (mixed model repeated measures analysis P = 0.005) than lean dogs. Notably, mean fasting carnitine concentration in overweight dogs (9.4 ± 4.2 µM) was close to a proposed reference limit for carnitine insufficiency.


A postprandial amino acid response was detected but no time-dependent variations with regards to body condition groups were found. Lower carnitine concentrations were found in overweight compared to lean dogs. The latter finding could indicate a carnitine insufficiency related to spontaneous adiposity and altered lipid metabolism in overweight dogs in this cohort of otherwise healthy Labrador Retrievers.

Link to the publication


Josefin Söder, Katja Höglund, Johan Dicksved, Ragnvi Hagman, Hanna Eriksson Röhnisch, Ali Ata Moazzami and Sara Wernersson. Plasma metabolomics reveals lower carnitine concentrations in overweight Labrador Retriever dogs. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (2019), 61:10


Josefin Söder
Lecturer at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Division of Veterinary Nursing

Telephone: 018-671472