Could bone broth help a dog's microbiome?

 With so much talk on the Microbiome, it would be rude not to take an in depth look at this elusive area in our gut lining. It plays a critical role with 90% of our immune system residing there, and its role as the ‘second brain’ in influencing our cognition.

 I’ve chatted with Dr Carol Hughes in a mini-series on her research spanning almost two decades. Funded by the Welsh Government, her research began by investigating natural occurring plant-based steroids.

 Having discovered several that several indigenous plants like wild spinach, but sadly the research ground to a halt when it appeared that these active compounds did not like any processing, with their active ingredients being lost!

The research program (as part of her parent company Phytorigins) then moved onto animals’ microbiomes.  With technological advancements namely Artificial Intelligence and the laboratory facilities at Aberystwyth University, we discuss how her team has conducted the first in-depth observation of microbiomes in horses, cats, livestock, and of course in dogs.

From the data gathered Dr Carol uses the latest technology measuring gut microbial biodiversity by the Shannon Index.  This is used to evaluate diversity - a mathematical calculation of the number of different species in the sample.

Having a good score or greater than 3 is ideal to having a healthy gut, metabolism plus resilience to disease and allergies. Having a diverse and varied population will ensure healthy digestion, with enough microbes to help absorb the essential nutrients and regulate the immune, metabolic, and nervous systems.

The results of the test being individual for every animal will highlight any ‘dysbiotic’ bacteria profiles, which when rectified through diet and the environment, will create a knock-on effect to the microbiome’s function and the visible difference to the animal’s overall health.

Dogs with a low diversity often have a missing core member of the microbiome, most commonly the missing bacteria group is associated with metabolism. There is also an increased tendency to develop biofilms that reside in the gut wall.

In Dr Carol’s experience, dogs with a low gut biodiversity score and high biofilm formation take the longest time to rebalance and restore.

We talk about her first study relating to obesity in dogs, and the bacteria – in fact a natural plant steroid that stimulates a pathway to the brain that could help reduce a tendency for obesity.

Highlighting that you are what you eat, and how the gut communicates with our brains as well as the other organs in the body. We also explore how the microbiome responds to different hormones (or the lack of them), and how Carol can deduce if an animal has been spayed or neutered by the missing bacteria in the microbiome.

It’s a fact that the Biome is a very delicate eco-system that relies on so many factors. Dr Carol believes that the microbiome shows everything in your dog when you know how to read the picture that’s presented.

What she has discovered is that dogs in the UK are not well. Dogs’ microbiomes are more compromised than either cats or horses. Interestingly horses appear to recover and bounce back better after antibiotics. Whereas dogs’ microbiomes remain affected with bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to re-balancing.

One of Dr Carol’s favourite probiotics is animal poop! At the time of writing she is investigating setting up a ‘Fecal’ bank – like a blood bank-but storing tested fecal matter that could be supplied in a freeze dried format to dogs needing to boost the diversity of their microbiomes.

The one 'food' that Carol recommends to help the microbiome restore is Bone Broth, which is why I'm involved in a ground-breaking study - the Broth: Biome study, which aims to answer the question: Could bone Broth help a dog's microbiome?

Partnering with Dr Carol Hughes and Rachel Down from Boil and Broth

Get involved - Find out how here 

 Tune into my podcast here