Dog Microbiome Analysis: What it is and Why it’s Important

Microbiome testing is an emerging field of science and is a relatively new concept, especially in dogs. It can be a great analytic tool in revealing areas to target in order to enhance your dog’s overall health, but what actually is it and why is it important?
2 min read
Dr Joe Inglis BVSc MRCVS
Head of Veterinary Sciences

Microbiome testing is an emerging field of science and is a relatively new concept, especially in dogs. It can be a great analytic tool in revealing areas to target in order to enhance your dog’s overall health, but what actually is it and why is it important? 

Dog microbiome analysis is essentially a test that uses a stool sample to determine the different types of microbes in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, and how they vary in quantity and diversity. Studies link a more diverse and rich gut microbiome with better overall health, as the gut is said to support many other health functions in the body such as immunity, joint and skin health. 

If ‘good’ bacteria are limited in numbers or unbalanced, this is called dysbiosis, and essentially means an ‘imbalanced’ gut. In dysbiosis, the ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut, or pathogens, can take hold, leading to digestive disorders in dogs, poor immunity or bacterial infections that affect the skin. 

Maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is crucial for aiding the gut’s role in supporting other bodily functions. Although much is still unknown about how the gut microbiome affects other parts of the body, some studies suggest a link between an imbalanced gut and issues with immune and neurological functions. For example, since 90% of serotonin (a neurotransmitter linked to mood) is produced in the gut, an imbalance could potentially affect a dog's behaviour.


So what specifically does a microbiome analysis tell you? 

By mapping the microbes in your dog’s gut, we can assess what ‘good’ bacteria are lacking, and potentially what ‘bad’ bacteria, or pathogens, could be lurking. Based on scientific research around the roles of these different types of bacteria, we can reveal how well your dog’s gut microbiome is supporting other health functions in your dog.

For example, if your dog has a lack of proteolytic bacteria in their gut, this may affect the support their gut gives in breaking down and digesting protein. Due to this, we know to increase the amount of protein you feed your dog, and supplement things that feed proteolytic bacteria, in order to promote better support from the gut in breaking down and absorbing proteins. 

This holistic approach to dog health care is about making informed decisions based on the specific needs of a dog's gut microbiome. It moves away from the guesswork of what might be best for a dog's gut to a more precise method of targeting specific imbalances and issues. Through microbiome testing, pet owners can understand better what needs targeting and how to target it, and by creating a rich and diverse gut microbiome, they increase the support the gut gives to their dog’s overall health.



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Frequently asked questions

  • The microbiome is the name given to the collection of microbes, mostly bacteria, but also fungi and protozoa, that exist within your dog’s gut. It is a diverse and complex microbial community which can directly affect health and wellbeing. We know that 90% of a human’s body cells are microbes, with only 10% being human cells – it’s just that human cells are markedly larger than the microbes. It’s similar for our four-legged friends. Testing the microbiome gives us an idea of exactly which bacteria are present in your dog’s gut and this can help indicate existing or future health problems.

  • A healthy diversity within the microbiome has been found to be an accurate indicator of overall health and wellbeing. If your dog appears healthy, but has an imbalance in their microbiome, then this could be an indicator of a potential future health issue. If your dog has any existing health complaints, then improving the health of their microbiome can help to improve immune system health and overall wellbeing, as well as improving disease symptoms.

  • Testing and treatment have the potential to help with a whole range of different health complaints. The immune system is very closely associated with the gut, so any imbalance in the microbiome can influence immune system health, overall vitality and wellbeing. Our supplement recommendations are also tailored to your individual dog, with specific ranges designed to help with gastrointestinal inflammation, joint problems, allergies and skin complaints, to name a few.

  • All you need to do is order a kit online and fill in our questionnaire about your dog and their general health. We will then send the kit out to you by post. You then just need to collect a sample and return it to us, again by post. Once the test is performed, we will email the results directly to you.

  • You do not need to get your vet’s permission to test, or talk to them about performing the test beforehand. We do recommend that you pass on a copy of your test results to your regular vets, as it may help them in understanding your pet’s current health, and any future complaints they may have.

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