We tend to feed our pets on the foods that we like – yes we are all guilty of it! I feel far less guilty now that I am vegan and have chosen to feed Ruff only on healthy vegan nutritious options rather than on the pizza crusts, sausages and ham that as a family we all used to treat him with!

The gut microbiome (the new term for our intestinal flora genetic material) has a big influence on the physical and mental health of all of us – our pets included. There are several complex factors that can alter an animal’s microbiome, for instance diet, stress and who they live with (a bit like us humans!)

bored beagle

Luis Pedro Coelho and his colleagues at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, in collaboration with Nestlé Research, studied the gut microbiome of beagles and retrievers. They found not only many similarities with other dog breeds but also with the human gut microbiome. Furthermore, he found out that our gut microbiome is more similar to the dog gut microbiome than those of pigs or mice – two organisms used frequently in model studies.

Speaking of the discovery, Luis Pedro Coelho says: “The results of this comparison suggest that we are more similar to man’s best friend than we originally thought.”

Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated by humans, and we have frequently shared food resources and living quarters with our ‘best friends’ throughout history – in fact for the 25 000 years or more.

There are important implications and applications that extend from the discoveries of Dr Coelho and his colleagues. One of which is using the dog as a model for human gut microbiome studies and vice versa, as Dr Coelho explains: “These findings suggest that dogs could be a better model for nutrition studies than pigs or mice and we could potentially use data from dogs to study the impact of diet on gut microbiome in humans, and humans could be a good model to study the nutrition of dogs.”

Amazing isn’t it that we can be used as models to help our dogs rather than animals being used to benefit us!! There are research models underway where humans and dogs are treated for certain diseases with ‘donor samples of faeces’ from healthy individuals as shown in this article Stool Substitute Transplant Therapy.

It is well known that high fibre natural unprocessed foods carry far more of these healthy ‘good’ gut bacteria, so yet again, more proof that a vegetable-based diet is healthier for our pets….and for us!

just be kind vegan dogs
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