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The American Gut Project
Seeking samples from you and your pets

The gut microbiome is a factor in a range of diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, all of which are more common in Westernized populations of both pets and people. A new study called the American Gut Project is seeking to investigate how diet affects the gastrointestinal microbiome.

Previous work studying microbiomes of typical healthy adult humans raised questions about how their results apply to the entire population and to other species. Scientists with this project hope to collect samples from individuals with a full range of diets and lifestyles.

So far, research projects on this subject in dogs and cats include just a few small studies of lab animals or those that were ill. The fact that the American Gut Project will address the microbiomes in the intestinal tracts of large numbers of dogs (and cats) living in a variety of settings means that the results could yield useful information about the effects of diet, genetics, and lifestyle on the gut microbiomes of our pets. Such information may help us make informed decisions about how to feed and care for our dogs (and cats) in the future.

It is a goal of the project to collect samples from multiple individuals in the same household. If you want to participate in the study, along with your family members of the canine and feline variety, or if you want to learn more about the American Gut Project, click here.

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by TheGiantVermin/Flickr

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