The GI microbiome of dogs and cats has become increasingly recognized as playing a crucial role in both systemic health and pathology. Colonization of the GI tract begins before birth, and the adult microbiome is influenced by a variety of factors, including host diet, environment, disease, and pharmacologic interventions. Alterations in the GI microbiome have not only local impacts on GI health and disease but are also linked to pathology in more distant anatomic sites. Through complex interactions in host metabolism, immune function, and genetic signaling, the role of the microbiome has been implicated in various disease processes, including but not limited to the skin, kidney, and even brain.
Disruption of microbiome health can lead to microbial shifts (ie, dysbiosis). Therefore, it stands to reason that there is significant potential in manipulation of the microbiome to help aid in a variety of disease treatments. Alterations of the microbiome with the use of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics have been credited with improvements in a variety of acute and chronic disease states. With postbiotic production by GI microbiota being highly influenced by host diet, nutrition and dietary modification remain at the forefront of the microbiome and ultimately host health.