Heterogeneity of gut microbial responses in healthy household dogs transitioning from an extruded to a mildly cooked diet

Jirayu Tanprasertsuk, Justin Shmalberg, Heather Maughan, Devon E. Tate, Lee Ann M. Perry, Aashish R. Jha, Ryan W. Honaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The gut microbiota (GM) is associated with canine health and can be impacted by diet. Dog owners in the U.S. have increasingly shown an interest in feeding their dogs a mildly cooked (MC) diet. However, its impact on canine GM and health remains largely unknown. Methods: Healthy household dogs were tracked upon switching from various brands of extruded to MC diets for four weeks. A health assessment was completed and stool samples were collected by each owner before (day 0) and after the diet transition (day 28). Shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed at both time points to characterize the GM. Results: Dogs completed the study by either completing the health assessments (n = 31) or providing stool samples at both time points (n = 28). All owners reported either better or no change in overall health at the end of the study (61% and 39%, respectively), and none reported worse overall health. Defecation frequency was also reported to be lower (58%) or about the same (35%). Principal coordinate (PCo) analysis showed a significant shift (p = 0.004) in the β-diversity of the GM upon diet transition (34.2% and 10.3% explained by the first two axes). The abundances of 70 species increased after the diet change (adjusted p < 0.05), 67% and 24% of which belonged to the Lactobacillales and the Enterobacterales orders respectively. The abundances of 28 species decreased (adjusted p < 0.05), 46%, 18%, and 11% of which belonged to the Clostridiales, Bacillales, and Bacteroidales orders, respectively. Lower Lactobacillales and Enterobacterales, and higher Bacteroidales at baseline were associated with a greater shift along the PCo1 axis. Protein content of the baseline diet was correlated with the shift along the PCo1 axis (ρ = 0.67, p = 0.006). Conclusion: Owners reported either improvement or no change in health in dogs transitioning from extruded kibble to MC diets for 4 weeks, but this report of health perception requires further exploration in a controlled trial. Diet change also led to a significant shift in the GM profile of healthy dogs. The magnitude of shift was associated with baseline GM and dietary protein, and warrants further examination of individualized responses and personalized nutrition in companion dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11648
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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