Gut health and the microbiome have been hot topics in pet health lately, but what exactly are these concepts and how does diet play a role?
The term ‘microbiome’ describes the population of microorganisms living in a certain environment. There are multiple microbiomes in the body, including on the skin, in the mouth, and in the digestive system, also known as the gut microbiome.1 The gut microbiome is involved in many bodily processes, and when healthy, this population promotes good digestion, stool quality, and simply overall health. When there is a disruption to this healthy balance, such as stress or an abrupt food change, it can allow unfriendly bacteria to proliferate. It can also trigger bacteria that are normally beneficial to overgrow and shift the population negatively. This is known as dysbiosis and can result in gastrointestinal upset and distress.2
Due to the impact that a healthy gut has on overall wellness, gut health has rapidly become a key focus for pet parents.
Digestion + Gut Health
Ancient-Grain Solutions to Support Healthy Digestion
Go! Solutions Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe with Ancient Grains for dogs is positioned for pet parents searching for a gut-focused, overall wellness recipe, supported by scientific evidence.
Using 24 client-owned healthy dogs, we designed a study to evaluate the efficacy of our Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe in supporting a healthy gut microbiome. During this study, dogs were fed the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe, and a control diet for 30 days each. We then asked owners to collect stool samples which were sent out for microbiome analysis.3 We also asked owners to assess their dogs’ stool quality using a provided fecal scoring chart (Figure 2).
Upon evaluation of the microbiome population, there were notable, encouraging reductions to the amount of the known pathogenic bacterial groups Escherichia and Streptococcus when fed the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Average bacterial read counts for differentially abundant bacteria. *Bacterial read counts were CLR-transformed
We also saw that when fed the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe, dogs had significantly improved fecal scores compared to control. When on the control diet, dogs had a median fecal score of 4, and when on the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe, they had a median score of 3, or ideal.
Figure 2: Fecal scoring chart provided to study participants to assess stool quality, provided by AnimalBiome. Type 3 is considered ideal, whereas 1-2 are associated with constipation, 4-5 with loose stools, and 6-7 with diarrhea.
Elevated levels of both Escherichia and Streptococcus are associated with negative effects including chronic small intestine diseases, and other canine gastrointestinal disorders, in addition to general dysbiosis.4,5,6 With Escherichia specifically, dogs with an overgrowth are more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease and suffer from diarrhea.7 Although some Streptococcus can be part of a healthy microbial population, an over abundance is associated with gastrointestinal issues.8 The trends of decreased abundance seen in this study are highly suggestive of a positive effect of the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe on gut health.
As many pet parents know too well, a diet change can be stressful event for the microbiome and can trigger temporary gastric upset and loose stools. As expected, when transitioned to the control recipe, dogs showed an increase in stool score and loose stool frequency. However, when the dogs in this study were transitioned onto the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe, we did not see a negative impact on stool score or frequency of loose stools. This suggests that there was a partially protective effect of feeding this recipe on transition related digestive upset.
Finally, stool score was significantly improved in pets fed this recipe, most notably seeing a reduction in the frequency of loose stools and increased grades of ideal quality. For pet owners, stool quality is often one of the most crucial indicators of a successful diet and improving this can be a meaningful indicator in the effectiveness of a gut health recipe.
Overall, the Go! Solutions Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe with Ancient Grains for dogs had notable, health-positive reducing effects on pathogenic groups that have been linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea and dysbiosis. The recipe also showed significant improvement of fecal score and quality, particularly when dogs were faced with the mild stress of a diet transition. These improvements to stool quality and beneficial shifts in the microbiome offer every-day support to pet parents looking for an option to support a healthy microbiome for their pets.
Marchesi, J.R., & Ravel, J. 2015. The Vocabulary of Microbiome Research: a Proposal. Microbiome. 3.
Zmora, N., et al. 2019. You are what you eat: Diet, Health and the Gut Microbiota. Nature Reviews. 16.
Jarett, J., et al. 2019. Diets with and without edible cricket support a similar level of diversity in the gut microbiome of dogs. PeerJ. e7661.
AlShawaqfeh, M. K., et al. 2017. A Dysbiosis Index to Assess Microbial Changes in Fecal Samples of Dogs with Chronic Inflammatory Enteropathy. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 93
Pilla, R., & Suchodolski, J.S. 2019. The Role of the Canine Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in Health and Gastrointestinal Disease. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 6.
Minamoto, Y., et al. 2019. Fecal Short-Chain Fatty Acid Concentrations and Dysbiosis in Dogs with Chronic Enteropathy. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 33(4).
Jarett, J., et al. 2020. Defining Healthy: The Utility of Building a Companion Animal Fecal Microbiome Reference Dataset. Presented at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
El Aidy, S., et al. 2015. The Small Intestine Microbiota, Nutritional Modulation and Relevance for Health. Current opinion in Biotechnology. 32.