In a recent study published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum by the American Society for Microbiology, researchers have pinpointed two probiotic strains that show promise in reducing body fat among overweight and obese dogs.

Pet obesity, recognized as an epidemic in the United States, where over half of all dogs and cats were classified as overweight or obese in 2018, remains a global concern. To tackle this issue, veterinarians and pet owners are exploring nutritional interventions, as emphasized by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).

Led by principal investigator Younghoon Kim, Ph.D., a team of researchers from Seoul National University in Korea delved into the intestinal microbiota compositions of both young and old dogs. Their findings highlighted a deficiency in lactic acid bacteria, specifically Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus species.

To gauge the efficacy of probiotic support, the researchers conducted experiments with a test group of 20 beagles. The dogs were divided into four research groups, with the control group receiving a standard adult dry dog food. The other three groups were induced to develop obesity through a high-fat diet and were subsequently administered varying levels of Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301.

Dr. Kim underscored, ” The strains we carefully selected demonstrated remarkable success in reducing the body fat percentage in dogs. What set these strains apart was their ability to not only limit dietary intake or enhance excretion to reduce body weight but, more importantly, activate energy metabolism. Even when exposed to a high-calorie diet, we observed a decrease in body weight, alleviation of subcutaneous fat accumulation, and an increase in energy metabolism. This confirmed a shift in the body’s metabolic orientation towards fat consumption rather than fat accumulation.”

The study also revealed improvements in obesity-related issues, such as systemic inflammation and interrupted hormone metabolism, with the administration of Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus probiotics. Additionally, dogs fed the probiotics experienced increased levels of commensal bacteria, potentially enhancing immunity and providing defense against harmful bacteria.

These positive outcomes persisted throughout the study, suggesting that these probiotics could serve as a sustained solution for obese pets. Dr. Kim also stated, “My aspiration is to catalyze increased attention, funding and collaborative efforts in the scientific community to explore the expansive landscape of probiotic applications in pet health.”

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