Probiotics might help portly pooches shed pounds

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Korean researchers have identified two strains of probiotics that helped obese canines shed pounds.

Although about half of all canines are obese, the condition occurs more often in older dogs, so researchers at Seoul National University scrutinised differences in the gut microbiomes of both young and old dogs. They found that old dogs experience a decline in the population of two species of lactic acid bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus.

To see whether these bacteria play a role in canine obesity, the team administered two specific strains—Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301—to a group of beagles.

They then put the beagles on a high-fat diet to see whether they’d pack on pounds despite the probiotics. Despite their diet, the beagles experienced a drop in both weight and body fat, accompanied by an increase in their energy metabolism.

Their findings are published in Microbiology Spectrum.

“What set these strains apart was their ability to not only limit dietary intake or enhance excretion to reduce body weight, but more importantly, activate energy metabolism,” principal researcher Professor Younghoon Kim said.

The results “confirmed a shift in the body’s metabolic orientation towards fat consumption rather than fat accumulation”, Professor Kim added.

The loss of body fat also provided other health benefits for the beagles, including lower inflammation levels and enhanced insulin production. Further, the increase in beneficial bacteria boosted the dogs’ immune system acting in defence against harmful bacteria.

What’s particularly encouraging is that these changes aren’t fleeting. The gut bacteria persist in the dogs’ bodies, ensuring that their benefits will be sustained over time.

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