The United States, which is currently facing the problem of obesity in dogs, has some good news. According to a study by researchers at the Nestle Purina PetCare Company, pet obesity can be managed with a proper balance of protein and carbohydrates in the dog's daily diet.
The study showed that gut microbiome of dogs is dependent on the canine's daily diet, and regulating protein and carbohydrates will help in balancing the right kind of gut microbes.
It noted that dogs on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet faced low ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes bacteria. This microbial deficiency was prominent in obese and overweight dogs as compared with lean and healthier ones.
The findings have been published in mBio, and it advocates microbiology-based strategies in tackling obesity problem in dogs.
"We do believe dogs have become heavier over the last decade, and that it's an epidemic," said Johnny Li, a computational biologist at Nestle Purina in St. Louis, Missouri, who led the new study.
According to Li, the study was filling the vacuum caused by previous studies that feebly documented the goings-on in the gut microbiome of dogs.
Noting that dietary effects on the microbiome were prominent in obese and overweight dogs, Li said the current study will provide a platform in tracing the linkages between diet and gut microbes in dogs.
Gut Bacterial Balancing
Though the findings are very basic, Li is expecting the research to modify the composition of pet food by the strategic use of probiotics to address the obesity issue. He said the study's conclusions warrant that a different diet is justified for animals to achieve a greater bacterial balance in the guts.
The study, conducted on 32 beagles and 32 Labrador retrievers, had lean and obese dogs in equal numbers. The dogs ate the same diet for the first four weeks and in the next four weeks, half of them had a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet, with the other group given low-protein diet that had high-carbohydrate content.
The fecal microbiome analysis of the first four weeks showed the dogs had no major differences in the gut microbiomes.
The analysis of the second phase's four weeks showed dogs on experimental diet experiencing significant changes in the microbiome, with those on low-protein, high-carbo combo showing a jump in Bacteroides uniformis and Clostridium butyricum.
In the high-protein eaters, a decrease Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes bacteria ratio showed up. They also showed a surge in Clostridium hiranonis and doubling of Ruminococcus gnavus.
Implications For Humans
Studies on microbial imbalance on humans have already revealed that the condition is linked to health problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, immune disorders, and diseases of liver and brain.
To sum up, dog obesity has to be managed through three things — diet, microbiology, and exercise.
Since obesity is related to a dysbiotic gut microbiota, how the gut biota becomes dysbiotic or symbiotic depends on a balanced diet by maintaining a proper ratio of proteins and carbohydrates to strike a right balance in the gut microbes.