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What is the Gut Microbiome?

What is the Gut Microbiome?

The canine gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem composed of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that reside within the digestive system of dogs. These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the dog, as they are responsible for aiding digestion, modulating the immune system, and synthesizing various hormones and neurochemicals that influence the brain (Cryan & Dinan, 2012).

Extensive research has been conducted to gain a better understanding of the canine gut microbiome and its impact on health. One of the key factors influencing the composition of the gut microbiome is diet (David et al., 2014). The consumption of different types of food, such as high-protein or high-fiber diets, can cause significant changes in the microbial community. Age is another factor that affects the gut microbiome, as the microbial composition tends to change over time as the dog matures (Vázquez-Baeza et al., 2016). Furthermore, genetics and breed-specific traits can also contribute to variations in the gut microbiome among individual dogs (Song et al., 2013).

Additionally, the administration of certain medications, particularly antibiotics, has been found to cause substantial alterations in the gut microbiome (Jernberg et al., 2007). This can lead to an imbalance in the microbial community, potentially resulting in health complications.

Ongoing research in the field of canine gut microbiome aims to expand our knowledge of its role in maintaining health and to develop strategies for promoting a healthy gut environment. These strategies may include the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and dietary interventions (Suchodolski, 2016). Probiotics, for example, are live microorganisms that can confer health benefits when administered in appropriate amounts (Swanson et al., 2002). Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible food components that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria (Gibson & Roberfroid, 1995). Dietary interventions, such as the inclusion of fiber-rich foods, can also support a healthy gut microbiome (Simpson et al., 2019).

In conclusion, understanding the canine gut microbiome and its role in health is essential for maintaining and improving the well-being of our canine companions. By considering factors such as diet, age, genetics, and medications, and utilizing strategies such as probiotics, prebiotics, and dietary interventions, we can better support a healthy gut environment and overall health for our dogs.


A video from The Microbiology Society explains more.


Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 13(10), 701-712.

David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., ... & Turnbaugh, P. J. (2014). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature, 505(7484), 559-563.

Gibson, G. R., & Roberfroid, M. B. (1995). Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. The Journal of nutrition, 125(6), 1401-1412.

Jernberg, C., Löfmark, S., Edlund, C., & Jansson, J. K. (2007). Long-term impacts of antibiotic exposure on the human intestinal microbiota. Microbiology, 153(11), 3866-3872.

Simpson, M. R., Venekamp, A., & van Zelst, M. (2019). The effect of dietary fiber on the gut microbiome of dogs: A systematic review. Veterinary Medicine and Science, 5(3), 325-337.

Song, S. J., Lauber, C., Costello, E. K., Lozupone, C. A., Humphrey, G., Berg-Lyons, D., ... & Knight, R. (2013). Cohabiting family members share microbiota with one another and with their dogs. eLife, 2, e00458.

Suchodolski, J. S. (2016). Diagnosis and interpretation of intestinal dysbiosis in dogs and cats. The Veterinary Journal, 215, 30-37.

Swanson, K. S., Grieshop, C. M., Flickinger, E. A., Bauer, L. L., Healy, H. P., Dawson, K. A., ... & Fahey, G. C. (2002). Supplemental fructooligosaccharides and mannanoligosaccharides influence immune function, ileal and total tract nutrient digestibilities, microbial populations and concentrations of protein catabolites in the large bowel of dogs. The Journal of nutrition, 132(5), 980-989.

Vázquez-Baeza, Y., Hyde, E. R., Suchodolski, J. S., & Knight, R. (2016). Dog and human inflammatory bowel disease rely on overlapping yet distinct dysbiosis networks. Nature Microbiology, 1(12), 1-7.

The information presented on this website, including blog posts and articles, is provided general informational purposes only. It is not intended as, and should not be relied upon as, veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified veterinarian for advice regarding your pet's specific health needs and conditions.

Reliance on any information from this website is at your own risk. Petwell Club is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from the use of this site. The views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Petwell Club and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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