Putting microbiome science in the forefront of GI issues


This article is sponsored content brought to you by Hill’s.

Have you been wondering why the word ‘microbiome’ has been increasingly popular topic in human and veterinary medicine? This is because scientists began to uncover that the microbes living on and in the body are not just a random cluster of germs originating from the environment that can make an individual sick. Nor are the gut microbes only important to herbivores to help them extract the energy from food. In fact, gut microbiota is a living ecosystem of commensal microorganisms that provides lots of benefits to every mammal from maintaining gut health to regulating distant organs.  In return, the mammalian host (dog or cat) provides the microbiota with nutrients and stable environment. Research is clear that harboring a healthy microbiota in the gut offers many health benefits to dogs and cats.  


What is the size of gut microbiota of dogs and cats? 

Gut microbiota is the entire habitat of living microorganisms, including not only anaerobic and aerobic bacteria but also archaea, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. They have been evolving for billions of years and there are thousands of diverse species known. It is estimated that the intestine of mammals contains approximately 1010 to 1014 microorganisms which is 10 times more than that number of cells within the body1. Due to the small size of microbes and presence in high density, the microbial mass is not as large and heavy when compared to the rest of the body. The total bacterial counts increase along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of dogs and cats, with numbers being lowest in the stomach and highest in the colon.

The exact population of micoorganisms is unique to each host and these bacteria are functionally and compositionally diverse, allowing contribution to energy homeostasis, metabolism, gut epithelial cell health, and immunologic activity. This population is not static and can change due to medications such as antibiotics, environmental factors, disease states, and dietary influences. Additionally, it’s common to see dysbiosis (imbalance in the gastrointestinal microbiome) in chronic GI disease in cats and dogs. Over the past several years, Hill’s has focused heavily on studying the microbiome, characterizing bacterial populations of the gastrointestinal tract of cats and dogs.  Most critically, Hill’s has performed analyses to understand the functions of those bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.  Hill’s has used advanced technology to understand the GI microbiome including new methods such as next-generation sequencing technologies. Using these insights, Hill’s has found that a pet’s gastrointestinal health can be positively impacted by ActivBiome+™ technology, a proprietary blend of active fibers shown to nourish the gastrointestinal  microbiome. With this technology, Hill’s is putting microbiome health at the forefront of GI care.  V

To find out more about how ActivBiome+ Technology works, visit the Hill’s stand at the 46th ASAV annual conference. 

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1. Suchodolski JS. Companion animals symposium: microbes and gastrointestinal health of dogs and cats. J Anim Sci 2011;89:1520-1530


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