What is Microbiome?
Each pet has an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by DNA. An animal is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through the mother’s breast milk. Exactly which microorganisms the pet is exposed to depends solely on the species found in the mother. Later on, environmental exposures and diet can change the microbiome to be either beneficial to health or place one at greater risk for disease.
The microbiome consists of microbes that are both helpful and potentially harmful. Most are symbiotic (where both the body and microbiota benefit) and some, in smaller numbers, are pathogenic (promoting disease). In a healthy body, pathogenic and symbiotic microbiota co-exist without problems. But if there is a disturbance in that balance—brought on by infectious illnesses, certain diets, or the prolonged use of antibiotics or other bacteria-destroying medications—dysbiosis occurs, stopping these normal interactions. As a result, the pet may become more susceptible to disease.
Microbiota stimulate the immune system, break down potentially toxic food compounds, and synthesize certain vitamins and amino acids, including the B vitamins and vitamin K. For example, the key enzymes needed to form vitamin B12 are only found in bacteria, not in plants and animals.
Why is it important?
Studies have shown that having the correct intestinal microorganisms not only plays a large role in intestinal health and correct digestion of nutrients, but also stimulates our immune system. This has the potential to not only help us fight off disease, but also to decrease inflammation and help prevent and fight cancers. There are even studies that suggest that the microorganisms inside us impact our mental health.
What is Microbiome Replacement Therapy?
MBRT consists of taking fecal material (yes, poop) from very carefully selected and screened donor dogs and cats, and putting it into the intestines of the patient. This is typically done with a small enema, but it can also be done with oral capsules.
Is it difficult for my pet?
It is very easy, comfortable and well tolerated!
How long does it take?
The procedure itself takes about 20 minutes, but the preparation of the sample can take a little longer, so we typically ask you to drop your pet off for part of the day.
Which pets should NOT get MBRT?
Patients currently on antibiotics. Antibiotics can dramatically change the microorganisms in the intestine, so we want to wait until antibiotic treatment is done to do MBRT.
Why can’t I just give my pet probiotics or pre-biotics?
Supplements that contain pre-biotics (fiber in food that feeds probiotics) and supplements that contain probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) are excellent additions in the diet. However, probiotics typically have about 5-10 species of good bacteria. Patients benefit greatly from the quick addition of over 500 species of microbiome with MBRT. The pre and probiotics will support the microbiome but the fastest way to help the immune system is by replacing unhealthy gut flora with healthy gut flora.