Imagine you are standing on a viewing platform. You are watching people walk to work during rush hour in the world's busiest city, now take it even further and imagine this at a microscopic level. This is your dog's microbiome.
Your dog's body is home to trillions of microorganisms. This consists of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They predominantly live in your dog's upper and lower intestines. Microorganisms play a vital role in regulating your dog's health. Their roles consist of digesting food, regulating your dog's immune system, and producing vitamins needed for blood coagulation. Recent studies have estimated that over 200 bacteria species and over 900 strains of bacteria live in your dog's jejunum (The middle part of your dog's small intestine)1
When you have poor gut health you may experience a number of issues. Irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, kidney diseases, anxiety, and skin conditions such as eczema have all been partially linked to poor microbiome health. In dogs an unhealthy microbiome can often be linked to diarrhea, passing of gas, and skin conditions. Adding prebiotics and probiotics to your dog's diet may help ease a number of conditions.
A study carried out found in human patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome a decrease in a bacteria known as Akkermansia and also a decrease in facelibacterium. These bacteria have anti-inflammatory effects. The study also found an increase in Enterobacteriaceae which works in conjunction with your microbiome to cause IBD9. The best way to increase your dog's gut health is to focus on heating healthy food that contains pre and probiotics.
The benefits of a healthy microbiome in dogs.
- A healthy immune system.
- Heart health
- Brain Health
- Good digestion
- Good sleeping patterns
- Decreased risk of diseases and health complications.
- Increasing Microbiome health.
Antibiotics are used to treat dogs with severe cases of bad gut health to remove pathogenic bacteria however this has a serious and negative effect on overall microbiome health. Studies are increasingly looking at prebiotics, probiotics, and combinations of the two as treatment options.
Prebiotics can be viewed as food for the healthy bacteria in your dog's stomach2 Prebiotics are compounds in food that help bacteria and fungi grow. Studies have been limited on the effect prebiotics have on animal gut health but the studies that have been conducted have been positive. Prebiotics are one of the main ways of treating animal microbiomes. A study found that prebiotics was effective independent of diet3. Prebiotics can be found naturally in food or brought in a supplement form. Apples, bananas, and raw oats are great sources of prebiotics for your dog.
Probiotics are live organisms that may help to restore good microbiome balances. Studies so far to date have been limited to canines. However, there have been increasing studies carried out on the effects probiotics have on human health. A report published in Science Direct found that "these microbes have shown positive responses to clinical treatment against several diseases and disorders, such as diarrhea associated 4."
Safe food for dogs containing Prebiotics.
Cooked mushrooms brought from a supermarket can be fed to your dog in small doses. Mushrooms contain a number of compounds that help to alter gut health. They aid in reducing inflammation, promote skin and fur coat health, and the fibre helps with digestion. Mushrooms are also high in Vitamin D. Your dog's body uses it to absorb calcium to make there bones strong.
Raw bananas contain a high amount of starch which makes them an excellent choice for 5. Resistance starch resists digestion in your body's small intestine. As the starch ferments, it acts as a food source for the healthy bacteria in your dog's stomach. Resistant starch fermenting favours the formation of Butyrate. Butyrate is the favoured food for the bacteria living on your dog's stomach lining 6. Bananas also contain the healthy bacteria faecal bacterium and akkermansia which have been linked to decreasing IBD.
Beetroots are high in fibre and studies have shown that beetroot increases good gut bacteria and reduces Erysipelotrichaceae (2). Erysipelotrichaceae is part of the gram-positive bacteria and is associated with inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. Beetroot is high in Vitamin B9 this is used to promote cell growth.
Plain oats are high in Beta-glucan fibre, and also contain resistant starch. These both help to nourish the good bacteria and promote overall gut health. Studies have shown that Beta-Glucan fed to mice over 15 weeks had a major increase in cognitive function, and all areas of gut health7.
Studies have found that the consumption of apples shows beneficial effects on metabolism, vascular function, and inflammation. The majority of polyphenols contained in apples reach the large intestine and are consumed by your dog's microbiome. Further studies need to be carried out but the studies that have been carried out so far point to a reduced risk of disease8
Sweet potato is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and helps to boost cognitive functions and feed the bacteria in your dog's microbiome.
A number of leading pet food companies are also selling Prebiotics for dogs in powdered form. This is convenient and can be sprinkled on their food as a topper.
Safe food for dogs containing Probiotics
Natural yoghurt contains probiotics that help increase your dog's microbiome. It is also high in protein and vitamins.
Kefir is fermented milk and when it is natural with no added flavours it is safe for dog consumption. Kefir contains much more probiotics for dogs. Kefir also helps to increase bone strength and is low in lactose. This can even be drunk by dogs with lactose allergies as the levels are low.
1)Suchodolski JS, Camacho J, Steiner JM. Analysis of bacterial diversity in the canine duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and colon by comparative 16S rRNA gene analysis. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. (2008) 66:567–78. 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00521.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18557939/
2) Middelbos IS, Vester Boler BM, Qu A, White BA, Swanson KS, Fahey GC, Jr. Phylogenetic characterization of fecal microbial communities of dogs fed diets with or without supplemental dietary fiber using 454 pyrosequencing.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0009768
3) , , , et al. Dietary cellulose, fructooligosaccharides, and pectin modify fecal protein catabolites and microbial populations in adult cats. J Anim Sci2010; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20495116/
4) Rout George Kerry, Jayanta Kumar Patra, Sushanto Gouda, Yooheon Park, Han-Seung Shin, Gitishree Das. Benefaction of probiotics for human health: A review. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949818300309
5) Zozimo R.O.B., Ratanasut K., Boonsrangsom T., Sujipuli K. Assessment of genetic diversity among Thai banana cultivars (Musa spp.) based on RAPD and SRAP markers. Int. J. Biosci. 2018;12(4):172–180. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Richard-Zozimo/publication/333918637_Assessment_of_genetic_diversity_among_Thai_banana_cultivars_Musa_spp_based_on_RAPD_and_SRAP_markers_International_Journal_of_Biosciences_IJB/links/5d0cbe22458515c11ceb4c6f/Assessment-of-genetic-diversity-among-Thai-banana-cultivars-Musa-spp-based-on-RAPD-and-SRAP-markers-International-Journal-of-Biosciences-IJB.pdf
6) Understanding resistance starch and its role in gut health. https://www.csiro.au/en/research/health-medical/nutrition/resistant-starch
7) Shi, H., Yu, Y., Lin, D. et al. β-glucan attenuates cognitive impairment via the gut-brain axis in diet-induced obese mice. Microbiome 8, 143 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00920-y https://rdcu.be/cTNNm
8) Althanasois Koutsos, Kieran M Tuhoy, Julie A Lovegrove Apples and cardiovascular health: Is the gut microbiota a core consideration?https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488768/
9) , , , . (2022) Evaluation of the Effect of Different Dietary Lipid Sources on Dogs’ Faecal Microbial Population and Activities. Animals12:11, pages 1368.