Effects of the Dietary Protein and Carbohydrate Ratio on Gut Microbiomes in Dogs of Different Body Conditions

Qinghong Lia, Christian L. Lauberb, Gail Czarnecki-Mauldena, Yuanlong Pana, Steven S. Hannaha

aNestlé Purina Research, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
bNestlé Institute of Health Science, Lausanne, Switzerland

Jose C. Clemente, Editor

Author Affiliations:
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Address correspondence to Qinghong Li, Qinghong.Li@rd.nestle.com.


Obesity has become a health epidemic in both humans and pets. A dysbiotic gut microbiota has been associated with obesity and other metabolic disorders. High-protein, low-carbohydrate (HPLC) diets have been recommended for body weight loss, but little is known about their effects on the canine gut microbiome. Sixty-three obese and lean Labrador retrievers and Beagles (mean age, 5.72 years) were fed a common baseline diet for 4 weeks in phase 1, followed by 4 weeks of a treatment diet, specifically, the HPLC diet (49.4% protein, 10.9% carbohydrate) or a low-protein, high-carbohydrate (LPHC) diet (25.5% protein, 38.8% carbohydrate) in phase 2. 16S rRNA gene profiling revealed that dietary protein and carbohydrate ratios have significant impacts on gut microbial compositions. This effect appeared to be more evident in obese dogs than in lean dogs but was independent of breed. Consumption of either diet increased the bacterial evenness, but not the richness, of the gut compared to that after consumption of the baseline diet. Macronutrient composition affected taxon abundances, mainly within the predominant phyla, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. The LPHC diet appeared to favor the growth of Bacteroides uniformis and Clostridium butyricum, while the HPLC diet increased the abundances of Clostridium hiranonis, Clostridium perfringens, and Ruminococcus gnavus and enriched microbial gene networks associated with weight maintenance. In addition, we observed a decrease in the Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes ratio and an increase in the Bacteroides to Prevotella ratio in the HPLC diet-fed dogs compared to these ratios in dogs fed other diets. Finally, analysis of the effect of diet on the predicted microbial gene network was performed using phylogenetic investigation of communities by reconstruction of unobserved states (PICRUSt).

IMPORTANCE More than 50% of dogs are either overweight or obese in the United States. A dysbiotic gut microbiota is associated with obesity and other metabolic problems in humans. HPLC diets have been promoted as an effective weight loss strategy for many years, and potential effects were reported for both humans and dogs. In this study, we explored the influence of the protein and carbohydrate ratio on the gut microbiome in dogs with different body conditions. We demonstrated significant dietary effects on the gut microbiome, with greater changes in obese dogs than in lean dogs. The HPLC diet-fed dogs showed greater abundances of Firmicutes but fewer numbers of Bacteroidetes than other dogs. This knowledge will enable us to use prebiotics, probiotics, and other nutritional interventions to modulate the gut microbiota and to provide an alternative therapy for canine obesity.

Citation Li Q, Lauber CL, Czarnecki-Maulden G, Pan Y, Hannah SS. 2017. Effects of the dietary protein and carbohydrate ratio on gut microbiomes in dogs of different body conditions. mBio 8:e01703-16. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01703-16.

Received 21 September 2016 Accepted 27 December 2016 Published 24 January 2017

Copyright © 2017 Li et al.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.