We Are Intimately Tied to Our Dogs – Right Down to Our Poop!

Science says gut microbiome discovery could improve human and canine health.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

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A new study, published in the scientific journal Microbiome, has found that humans share gut microbiome similarities with dogs. In fact, we are closer to dogs than pigs; the latter has been the traditional comparison for human nutritional research.  This discovery may lead to more efficient studies for human and canine weight loss.

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Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory partnered with Nestlé Purina Research for a study that involved 32 Beagles and 32 Labrador Retrievers. Half of each breed were overweight, while the other half was considered to be a healthy weight.

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All dogs were fed the same food for four weeks. Their poop was then collected and analyzed. This is the simplest way to get a baseline for intestinal microbe populations (flora).  The dogs were then randomly distributed into two groups: those eating a high carb/low protein diet and those eating the opposite.

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After the poop was collected and microbe populations analyzed, it was found that leaner pooches experienced little change in gut flora. This is how a healthy gut should respond and it solidifies existing evidence that obesity results in changes to gut populations.

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One researcher, Jack Gilbert (University of Chicago Microbiome Center), believes that the most newsworthy aspect of the study was that the DNA analysis uncovered similar gut microbe populations between humans and dogs. It is, perhaps, not surprising, as evidence of our close relationship with dogs can be found in early human records.  We have always shared food and resources, which could be clues as to why our health and weight mirror one another.

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This discovery will affect how dog-food makers create their recipes to improve canine digestive health. It will also enhance human dietary studies as it’s not possible to give humans the exact same food for months on end.  Dogs, however, thrive on it.

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So, that’s one more thing to strengthen your bond with your pet – poop!