Dog Diets Around the World: The Proof is in the Poop

Jul 1, 2022

At Bernie’s Best, we are all about dog microbiomes. After all, we know good health begins in the gut and better diets lead to better lives. A new study looking at poop from dogs in diverse geographic locations confirms what we’ve always known–the proof of a dog’s gut health is in his poop.

A microbiome is the collection of all the microbes that live in one’s body, and at Bernie’s Best, we focus on good dog gut health because that’s the core of good dog health. Research has looked at the poop of dogs pretty extensively to investigate how gut health and overall health are related, as well as how informative dog poop can be when it comes to a dog’s overall health.

Most of those studies have been limited to domesticated dogs, however. Dogs in shelters, dogs as pets…not much has been done to look at a dog’s microbiome on a global level. That is until now.

Researchers took samples of fecal microbiomes from dogs who spanned diverse geographical locations to get a better understanding of how what goes in a dog affects what comes out. The research team believed that while the extensive work done with dogs in domesticated situations like vet centers and from dogs who are pets is important, there is likely a very different microbiome life that happens in dogs who don’t live in pets.

Karthik Yarlagadda was a lead researcher for the study and said that just like the microbiomes in humans are probably different in those from cities than those who are more rural, a dog’s microbiome is likely diverse to its location as well.

To look at the range of microbiomes in dogs, they collected poop from pets in South Africa, stray and shelter dogs in India and dogs from a rural Laotian village. While much microbiome research has been done on pets who are in vet clinics, have been vaccinated, eat processed food, etc., these animals studied have different and varied environmental exposures. They wanted to see what their microbiomes were like and how they may adapt.

Each group of dogs had different diets. The shelter dogs were fed lentils, rice, yogurt and dog food while stray dogs scoured human leftovers and garbage. Village dogs ate lots of agricultural products like bamboo, corn, sticky rice and fish. The pet dogs were likely fed commercial dog food.

What the team found was that although the microbiomes of the dogs differed, they functionally served in the same way. Yarlagadda said, “It was cool to see that you can have different microbiomes, but they all fulfill the same metabolic function. For example, dogs that were consuming dairy in the South African and Indian populations had different Lactobacillus species that were probably involved in the same pathway.” All signs pointing back to the importance of good dog gut health no matter the geographic location or diet.

The team also looked at these samples compared to ancient microbiomes that were obtained from fossilized dog poop. The presumption was that dogs who lived outside and had mixed diets would likely have microbiomes more similar to the ancient dog microbiomes and they were right. The researchers found that microbiomes from ancient dogs more closely resembled the non-US population (and more domesticated) dog microbiomes. They surmised that industrialization and processing affects dog microbiomes and they want to do further work to see how, and how diet influences the microbiome.

All this boils down to is more proof that we can tell a ton about a dog’s gut from his poop (hence, we are always working for dogs to have the perfect poop) and that what our dogs eat really does make a difference in his gut (and overall) health.

Better diets really do lead to better lives, and Bernie’s Perfect Poop is a delicious way to supplement your dog’s microbiome with pre- and probiotics that can strengthen his gut, as well as high-quality fiber and digestive enzymes that will help him have maximum nutrient absorption.

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