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Microbiome restorative therapy for dogs

Microbiome restorative therapy for dogs

Microbiome is a funny word that many pet owners do not think about when it comes to their dogs. But did you know that digestive health and the microbiome are actually closely tied to the functioning of your dog’s immune system? Furthermore, if your dog has issues with a turbulent tummy, gas or chronic diarrhea, it may be caused by an upset in their microbiome. Unfortunately, certain veterinary drugs can actually wipe out and destroy a dog’s microbiome, leaving them with other immune and digestive problems. In this case, microbiome restorative therapy (MBRT) may be required to help balance out their body.

What is the microbiome?

Let’s start from the very beginning by asking what the term biotic means. Biotic components are living organisms in an environment. Even humans and our dogs can be considered examples of biotic organisms! 

Ever wonder how fibre is digested in your dog’s body? Well it’s largely due to tiny bacteria and other microbes in their large intestine. These bacteria are beneficial as they make up what’s called the microbiome, which helps to break down and digest fibre as well as keep your digestive tract healthy! 

Your dog’s microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes that are largely located in the large intestine. The microbiome consists of microbes that are both helpful and potentially harmful. In a healthy dog, these microbes coexist peacefully. However if the balance is tipped by illness, a poor diet or antibiotics, it could leave your dog susceptible to illness.

The microbiome plays a major role in digestion for dogs and other mammals and is the primary region for fibre digestion. Microbes ferment and breakdown fibre from the carbohydrates that your dog has consumed. Examples of fibre can include anything from vegetables to grains and even seeds. Most plant products contain a certain amount of fibre. Unlike protein, fats and starches, fibre is not broken down by enzymes or stomach acid and must be digested by the microbiome to elicit their full nutritive benefits.

Gut microflora in the microbiome break down fibre through a process called fermentation, where otherwise indigestible fiber is metabolized by the microflora to produce compounds short chain fatty acids (SCFA). Acetate, propionate and butyrate are SCFAs that can be then used by the body as a nutrient source, muscle function, neuro-endocrine function and brain function. Some studies have shown that SFCAs may also possibly prevent the development of chronic diseases, including certain cancers and bowel disorders like crohn's disease and IBS.

tiny cartoon scientists looking at bacteria in the intestine with magnifying glasses

What is Microbiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT)?

When your heart fails, you get a heart transplant. When your liver fails, you get a liver transplant. So what happens when your intestinal health fails? You get a poop transplant!

Microbiome Restorative Therapy or MBRT is a procedure where veterinarians will take fecal matter from the colon of a healthy dog and transplant it into a sick dog. This helps to restore and regenerate the microbiome of the sick dog by reintroducing healthy gut bacteria to their digestive system. MRT might sound like an odd or gross procedure but it is actually one that has been well studied and proven to be both effective and relatively non-invasive.

There have also been additional benefits to MBRT observed in patients who have received a fecal transplant including, better coat and skin health as well as healthier oral health in teeth and gums.

How does the transplant work?

When most people hear the word transplant, they think surgery. MBRT however works a little bit differently and is actually much less invasive than your traditional organ transplant! Veterinarian Dr. Margo Roman developed a method where the feces from a healthy donor dog is transplanted into a recipient dog through a suppository capsule or rectal enema. While a suppository or enema might cause some temporary discomfort, it is far superior to surgical methods as there is little to no risk for infection and requires little recovery time.

Does my dog need an MRT?

Dogs who require an MBRT have usually had a major disturbance in the balance of their microbiome. This could be because of illness or more likely the effects of veterinary prescription drugs like aggressive antibiotics and NSAIDs. This is because these types of medications do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria. So while the antibiotics may be effective against the bacteria causing a dog’s primary illness or infection, it may also be wiping out the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.

cartoon diagram of medication killing bacteria in the intestine

In the case of a major microbiome disruption, you might observe physical symptoms in your dog such as:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Allergies
  • Inflammation
  • A secondary illness or infection

If this is the case, your dog may require an MBRT. Talk to your veterinarian about getting a fecal sample to test and what the next steps are for restoring your dog’s microbiome health.

How to ensure your dog has a healthy microbiome at home

There are a number of holistic, natural methods you can try at home to ensure that your dog has a healthy microbiome. Even a healthy dog can benefit from these!

A healthy, balanced diet

It shouldn’t be a surprise that digestive health is closely linked to a healthy diet. Afterall, you are what you eat! This goes for your dog as well. Look into feeding your dog a diet that is formulated with a healthy balance of fibre from fruits and veggies. Consider feeding your dog a fresh cooked diet as it is also highly digestible and less processed than alternative food types.

Flat lay of Kabo savoury beef recipe with fresh human grade ingredients displayed around

Probiotics

Probiotics are a nutritional tool to help aid your dog’s digestive function. Think of it the same way as giving your dog a vitamin or mineral supplement to help with their nutritive health. Giving your dog a daily probiotic can greatly benefit their overall health. 

Probiotics are a supplement of good microbiota found in the microbiome. Usually probiotics are cultured from yeast and other fermented foods. They are then fed as a food supplement to balance the digestive system and improve bowel irritation. As a result, they can improve and restore the gut flora. 

You can purchase probiotics for your dog either at your local pet store, online or from your veterinarian. Probiotic supplements come in many different forms including:

  • Powders
  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Chews and treats
  • Capsules

The probiotic species that are most commonly used in these supplements are the same species that would be found in your dog’s microbiome. Some of the most common species of probiotics that you would see on a supplement label are:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Bifidobacterium breve

At Kabo, we believe wholeheartedly in the health benefits of probiotics for your dog. That’s why we include probiotics in our fresh kibble. All 3 of our kibble recipes include Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus subtilis as probiotic species to help improve your dog’s digestive health!

Bowl of Kabo chicken kibble

 Profile picture of brown cocker spaniel
 Profile picture of brown cocker spaniel

View Sources

Lyka (2022). “Microbiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT) for your dog’s health” https://journal.lyka.com.au/microbiome-restorative-therapy-mrt/ 

Harvard Ed. “The Microbiome”. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/ 

Y. Siva, A. Bernardi and L. Fozza. “The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication” Front. Endocrinol., 31 January 2020. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00025 

AKC. “Probiotics for dogs” (2020). https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/probiotics-for-dogs/ 

Nixon, SL, Rose, L, Muller, AT. Efficacy of an orally administered anti-diarrheal probiotic paste (Pro-Kolin Advanced) in dogs with acute diarrhea: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical study. J Vet Intern Med. 2019; 33: 1286– 1294. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15481 

Davani-Davari, D., Negahdaripour, M., Karimzadeh, I., Seifan, M., Mohkam, M., Masoumi, S. J., Berenjian, A., & Ghasemi, Y. (2019). Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 8(3), 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods8030092 

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