Probiotics Might Help Portly Pooches Shed Pounds

Probiotics Might Help Portly Pooches Shed Pounds
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Key Takeaways

  • Probiotics can help obese dogs lose weight, a new study says

  • Two strains of probiotic bacteria helped beagles drop pounds and body fat despite a high-fat diet

  • The beagles also had lower inflammation and better insulin production from weight loss

FRIDAY, Jan. 25, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- If your dog is looking like he needs to drop some weight, a new study shows probiotics might do the trick.

Researchers identified two strains of probiotics that helped obese canines shed pounds.

“The strains we carefully selected demonstrated remarkable success in reducing the body fat percentage in dogs,” said principal researcher Younghoon Kim, a professor of agricultural biotechnology with Seoul National University in Korea.

Although about half of all canines are obese, the condition occurs more often in older dogs, the researchers said, so they scrutinized differences in the gut microbiomes of both young and old dogs.

They found that old dogs experience a decline in the population of two species of lactic acid bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus.

To see whether these bacteria play a role in canine obesity, researchers administered two specific strains -- Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301-- to a group of beagles.

Researchers then put the beagles on a high-fat diet to see whether they’d pack on pounds despite the probiotics.

Despite their diet, the beagles experienced a drop in both weight and body fat, accompanied by an increase in their energy metabolism.

The findings were published Jan. 25 in the journal Microbiology Spectrum.

“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,” Kim said in a journal news release.

The results “confirmed a shift in the body's metabolic orientation towards fat consumption rather than fat accumulation,” Kim added.

The loss of body fat also provided other health benefits for the beagles, including lower inflammation levels and enhanced insulin production.

Further, the increase in beneficial bacteria boosted the dogs’ immune system acting in defense against harmful bacteria.

What’s particularly encouraging is these changes aren’t fleeting, Kim said. The gut bacteria persist in the dogs’ bodies, ensuring that their benefits will be sustained over time.

Kim called for more research on tailored probiotics for family pets.

“While types of probiotics suitable for human consumption or commercial livestock have been identified and established, the absence of standardized guidelines for companion animals is a glaring gap,” Kim said. 

More information

The American Kennel Club has more about probiotics for dogs.

SOURCE: American Society for Microbiology, news release, Jan. 25, 2024

What This Means For You

Owners of obese dogs should consider probiotics as a potential way to help their pet shed pounds.

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