High Carbohydrates?


Active member
May 5, 2016
Southern California
Kermit, ♀ GCC (Green Demon)
I just took Kermit, my GCC, into her annual vet exam for a fecal and gram stain and apparently the tests revealed her carbohydrates were slightly above usual. The vet said it was nothing to be too concerned about, and that I'll have to add Apple Cider Vinegar in her water for a few weeks and then retest her fecal.

I was wracking my brain as to what could cause this flux because I really don't feed her anything very complicated. I give her fruit (dried and fresh), fresh kale/greens, her pellets, and seeds... then my mom mentioned she notices my dad allowing her to chew on random crumbs on the table. I'm usually not awake when my dad plays with her, so I have no ideas the quantities, but it seems something so minuscule to affect her levels. Does this sound a likely cause to you guys ? In any case, I'm going to be more attentive about cleaning our table now...

This is the first time I've had a result come back for a pet as anything less than normal, so I'm trying to cover my bases here. But alas, I'll try not to let myself get too concerned over what I don't know.

Thanks for your thoughts :)

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Nor was I. I was under the impression that a gram stain tests for bacterial levels and a fecal tests for parasites. Though, I believe starches can be detected chemically (take the potato and iodine example), so I'm not surprised.

Hmm, sugars, maybe... I love fruit so I share them a little too much with her. Neither of us are as much a fan of veggies. I did mention the fruit in Kermit's diet and the vet didn't mention this as a potential cause. Sugars and starches are SIMILAR, but they are slightly different (for the nerds out there, a sugar is a monomer and a starcher is a polymer or made up of multiple sugars). Again, not sure how they detected the starches so not sure what this is telling me.

I'll have to ask more details on how this test works on a follow-up. Finally, a useful way to apply my university studies x);
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Here's something interesting about how a gram stain works...

How Does Gram Staining Work?
Gram staining involves three processes: staining with a water-soluble dye called crystal violet, decolorization, and counterstaining, usually with safanin. Due to differences in the thickness of a peptidoglycan layer in the cell membrane between Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria, Gram positive bacteria (with a thicker peptidoglycan layer) retain crystal violet stain during the decolorization process, while Gram negative bacteria lose the crystal violet stain and are instead stained by the safranin in the final staining process. The process involves three steps:

1. Cells are stained with crystal violet dye. Next, a Gram's iodine solution (iodine and potassium iodide) is added to form a complex between the crystal violet and iodine. This complex is a larger molecule than the original crystal violet stain and iodine and is insoluble in water.
2. A decolorizer such as ethyl alcohol or acetone is added to the sample, which dehydrates the peptidoglycan layer, shrinking and tightening it. The large crystal violet-iodine complex is not able to penetrate this tightened peptidoglycan layer, and is thus trapped in the cell in Gram positive bacteria. Conversely, the the outer membrane of Gram negative bacteria is degraded and the thinner peptidoglycan layer of Gram negative cells is unable to retain the crystal violet-iodine complex and the color is lost.
3. A counterstain, such as the weakly water soluble safranin, is added to the sample, staining it red. Since the safranin is lighter than crystal violet, it does not disrupt the purple coloration in Gram positive cells. However, the decolorized Gram negative cells are stained red.

Gram Staining

Notice anything interesting ? Although bacterial cells specifically contain peptidoglycan (basically a sugar/amino acid molecule 'mesh'), in the process of preparing them for a gram stain you add iodine. Iodine has the benefit of also reacting with starches :) Iodine does not, however, react with sugars. So it is very specifically an excess of starches in Kermits' diet that was detected...


from your list, I noticed bananas are high in starch. Sometimes I give her a bite of my banana as a treat, so I'll eliminate that from her diet for a while.
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Ok, you just made my night. Here's my question though: the iodine makes a new molecule with the crystal violet. Isn't the iodine locked up in the crystal thus unavailable to chemically react with the starch? It sounds more like a gram stain simply physically locks up color upon dehydration.
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Hi Chris,

If I understand your question right, you're wondering if all the iodine is used in reacting with the bacteria and isn't used to react with the starch ? You're correct in that once the iodine reacts with polypeptidoglycan (cells), it forms a new molecule and doesn't react with starch. But the iodine in the reaction is probably fed in excess, which means there's enough iodine available that it can react with all the cells, and there's still some leftover to react with the starch. Iodine is a relatively cheap compound (consider that big container you can buy at the grocery store for $10), so there's no reason it wouldn't be used in excess. The question could be more complex even if it wasn't fed in excess, and in that case you'll have to look at equilibrium conditions (which does the iodine prefer to react with more), but even so SOME starch would still react and hopefully it would be enough to be detectible.

I hope that made sense :)

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