For every cell in your dog’s body (and yours, too!), there are more than 10 microbes living in or on them, including bacteria, viruses, and other single-celled organisms. All of these organisms are collectively known as the microbiome and they affect your dog’s health in countless ways, both for good and bad. Any body system that is not sterile (free from microbes) has a microbiome, so dogs have a microbial ecosystem in their gut and mouth, on their skin, inside their nose, and in their reproductive tracts. A robust microbiome plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy dog.One example of the importance of a dog’s microbiome is the multitude of organisms living in its gastrointestinal tract. These guys are not just freeloaders; they are essential for proper digestion, vitamin synthesis, boosting the immune system, weight regulation, and protecting against potentially disease-causing microorganisms. There is even evidence that these bugs have a role in cancer prevention and mood (clearly golden retriever intestines are a good home for happy bugs)! Because it’s so important, studying the microbiome’s role in health
and disease is an exciting and expanding area of research. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is no different, and we have plans to undertake a small preliminary study using the fecal samples that some of your dogs have contributed to study the bacteria present in healthy young dogs. Our hope is to expand the study to look at the whole cohort and tie those results to important health outcomes. Understanding how the gut microbiome is influenced by diet and environment, and influences health outcomes, is the first step toward manipulating the microbiome to help prevent or treat disease.