Your dog's gut bacteria can tell you a lot about their health!
What is microbiome?
Your pet’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract hosts a unique community of hundreds of different types of bacteria and other microbes (such as viruses and fungi), referred to collectively as the gut microbiome (pronounced: mī-krō-ˈbī-ˌōm). A diverse, well-balanced gut microbiome is essential for digestion and nutrient absorption. Each bacterial group in the gut plays an important role in your pet’s body, so a healthy gut microbiome is also crucial for overall well-being and longevity.
When some key beneficial bacteria are missing from the microbiome, or the different bacterial groups aren’t present in the right amounts, the resulting imbalance can trigger inflammation. And constant inflammation can lead to chronic illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), skin issues, immune system reactions, diabetes, and even depression.
Balanced gut microbiomes and oral microbiomes are both very important for your dog’s overall health. Many think the route from the mouth to the gut is a one way street, but oral health and gut health are actually quite connected. A microbiome can become imbalanced when ‘bad’ bacteria are present, overpower beneficial bacteria, or grow too numerous.
For example, an imbalanced gut microbiome can cause bad breath because an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can produce a lot of smelly gas. This gas can be absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually exhaled, causing bad breath. This suggests that some conditions related to imbalances in the gut microbiome can cause bad breath.
Alternatively, an imbalanced oral microbiome can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome. Dogs swallow a lot of saliva, which contains bacteria from the mouth, so it’s no surprise some of those bacteria end up living in the gut. Too many ‘bad’ bacteria in the mouth could end up growing in the gut, causing an imbalanced microbiome, which can also contribute to bad breath.
How does microbiome testing work?
AnimalBiome has built the world’s largest database of cat and dog microbiome samples. They have collected and analyzed more than 30,000 fecal samples from domestic cats and dogs so far. Using those, they’ve assembled a group of samples that meet our criteria for healthy pets.
By studying those healthy samples, they were able to build a profile of the specific bacterial taxa (groups) we could expect to find in the gut microbiome of a healthy dog. We identified a “healthy reference set” consisting of 17 taxa that make up the core microbiome of dogs.
When AnimalBiome receives your pet’s sample, they extract DNA from all the bacteria. A fecal sample about the size of a pea contains roughly one billion bacterial cells. Using DNA sequencing and powerful analytic software, they can identify all the types of bacteria living in your pet’s gut.
Then, they compare your dog’s results to our large and growing database of healthy pets to determine how closely the types and amounts of bacteria in your pet’s gut match that healthy reference set. We can detect any bacterial imbalances, identify any key groups that are missing, and flag any harmful bacteria that may be causing troublesome symptoms, like diarrhea or itchy skin.
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