Absorption is the movement of nutrients across the lining of the alimentary tract. Most absorption of the nutrients in foods takes place in the small intestine. When food is eaten it usually needs to undergo a serious of chemical changes to break it down into it's constituent nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water) so that they can enter the body. These processes are called digestion and involve enzyme activity. Some food constituents , such as dietary fibre are not digested by the enzymes produced by simple stomached animals such as cats, dogs and humans, and so they are not able to be absorbed. However, in ruminants these fibres are broken down by bacterial fermentation in the rumen and then they can be absorbed.
Once broken down into smaller chemicals ( egs amino acids, fatty acids, peptides) nutrients are absorbed across the lining of the intestinal wall. This process can be passive (as with simple diffusion) or may involve active absorptive processes.
Any disorder that interferes with the absorption of nutrients from the gut lumen contributes to a failure of normal absorption - and this is called malabsorption.
CauseCommon causes of malabsorption include :
Small Intestine disease
Irish Setters have been recorded to develop Gluten-sensitive enteropathy which results in malabsorption.
Typical signs of the malabsorption of food include :
Long term problems
Long term problems depend upon the underlying
cause (follow links above under causes). The result of chronic
malabsorption is poor nutrition, and undernourished animals are more
susceptible to infections and are less well able to recover from disease.
Updated October 2013