A study published online last month (in February 2017) investigated the differences in a dog’s fecal microbiome when fed a raw food diet in comparison with an extruded food. The abstract states, “Dietary intervention studies are required to deeper understand the variability of gut microbial ecosystem in healthy dogs under different feeding conditions.”
In this study, 8 dogs were divided into two groups: 4 of them were fed the raw diet, and 4 of them the kibble diet, for 14 days. The groups were then switched for the remaining 14 days of the study; the raw group was fed kibble, and the kibble group was fed raw.
Stool samples were collected at the beginning of the study, on the 14th day of the study (before the groups switched diets), and on the last day of the study. These samples were used to analyze the microbial composition, which allowed the researchers to examine what kind of bacteria was present and in what quantities.
According to the conclusion of the study, the results suggest “the administration of MD [raw based] diet promoted a more balanced growth of bacterial communities and a positive change in the readouts of healthy gut functions in comparison to RD [extruded] diet.”
In other words, the dogs that were fed a raw based diet were found to have a significantly higher degree of biodiversity and a greater proportion of friendly gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus. The presence of Lactobacillus and other friendly bacteria is evidence of a healthy, functioning gut.
As the study’s discussion section points out, this “would indicate an enhancement of gut health.” It continues, “moreover, from the visual appraisal of the faecal output, which was observed to be reduced in the MD [raw] diet, a better apparent digestibility can be supposed,” confirming what most raw feeders have already discovered firsthand: raw diets result in smaller poops, which is a sign that the raw diet is highly digestible. This isn’t the first time a study has confirmed the highly digestible nature of raw food diets [source].
The study concludes, “the administration of highly digestible feed, combining fresh meat with readily fermentable substrates, promoted a more balanced growth of bacterial communities and a positive change in some of the readouts of healthy gut functions.”
Scientific research is vital when making decisions regarding the health of our pets. The current number of studies on raw diets for dogs leaves a lot to be desired, so we are very excited to see more studies published on this topic as raw diets grow in popularity with pet owners.
Sandri, M., Dal Monego, S., Conte, G., Sgorlon, S., & Stefanon, B. (2016). Raw meat based diet influences faecal microbiome and end products of fermentation in healthy dogs. BMC Veterinary Research, 13, 65. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-0981-z