Scientists Track the Microbiomes of Stray and Domestic Dogs Around the World – Consumer Health News

TUESDAY, July 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Whether they’re house pets in South Africa, strays in India or living in rural Laos, dogs have similar microbes colonizing their digestive tracts.

That’s the key takeaway from a new study that built on existing research on the canine microbiome, the collection of bacteria that live inside the intestines of dogs.

The researchers noted that most of the other studies have worked with kibble-eating dogs living in controlled conditions. This analyzed fecal samples from dogs with very different diets and lives in remote locations.

“Most of our previous studies have looked at animals that enter a veterinary clinic or are housed in a research facility; they are vaccinated and eat processed foods,” said Kelly Swanson, a professor of animal and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “But that’s different from animals, like those in Laos, that live outdoors and have a variety of environmental exposures. By conducting these studies, we can learn what is considered ‘normal’ for different populations around the world.”

Co-author Karthik Yarlagadda, a former graduate student at the university, also pointed out the limitations of previous studies.

“It’s similar to how studies of the human microbiome have focused on people who live in cities and eat processed foods,” Yarlagadda said in a university news release.

To better understand dog microbiomeThe researchers collected fecal samples from pets in South Africa, stray dogs and shelter dogs in India, and dogs from a rural village in Laos.

Dogs in Laos ate local agricultural products, such as corn, maize, bamboo, sticky rice, and fish from nearby rivers. Pets in South Africa were probably fed commercial dog food. Shelter dogs in India ate rice, lentils, yogurt and dog food, while stray dogs likely ate food left behind by humans.

See also  Let go of our family pets

Despite the different diets, the microbiomes were functionally the same, the study found.

“It was cool to see that you can have different microbiomes, but they all serve the same metabolic function,” Yarlagadda said. “For example, dairy-eating dogs in South African and Indian populations had different lactobacillus species that were probably involved in the same pathway.”

The researchers furthered their study by comparing the fecal samples to ancient fossilized dog feces. They found that the microbiomes of ancient puppies closely resembled those of dogs outside of the United States.

The researchers said that future studies could consider whether the diversity of the human microbiome in non-industrialized settings would follow similar trends.

“Using sequencing techniques from a previous study, we want to find more data on ancient microbiomes in various dog species,” said Ripan Malhi, professor of anthropology. “Since we know what their diet consisted of, we can do more comparisons to see how diet influences the microbiome.”

The findings were recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences.

More information

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more about microbiome.

SOURCE: Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, press release, June 28, 2022