The Brain in our Bellies
Updated: Jun 30
Beth Innis, DVM
When I was in veterinary school, the wondrous micro biome was not yet a thing to be oohed and ahhhed at. I was just starting to learn about the use of probiotics and while I was aware how intricate and complex the gastrointestinal system was, I didn't yet know the half of it.
We now know, and are continuing to learn, about this fascinating population of microorganisms that inhabit us. We now recognize this as an elaborate interconnected system that we are dependent upon for our function. This system impacts not just our digestion, but our immune system and our brains. The micro biome is affected by the food and drink we ingest, the medicines and supplements we take and our very lifestyle.
As fellow mammals, our dog and cats also have their very own micro biomes. As I see a population of pets who often need special diets and various medicines and supplements, I am recognizing how shifts can occur over time to this brainy system within their gut. One of my favorite tools lately, is to check in on this system with a test through https://www.animalbiome.com/. By collecting a fecal sample and submitting it for analysis I can garner all sort of information.
Looking at the micro biome as a population, this test compares a healthy dog or cat's typical ratios of bacteria and yeast to my patient's. This information can help me to taylor their diet more specifically to promote balance. Often, when things become very imbalanced, I will supplement with a pre-balanced supplement (a healthy animal's feces, incapsulated, a form of fecal transplant) to promote improved population balance. After some time on this daily supplement, I can recheck the fecal test and see if we have improved their gastrointestinal balance.
My goal is promote health from the inside out. Assessing my patient's micro biome, I can get a sense for how much balance they are able to achieve on their own, and if they might need a little kickstart to redirect them towards a more healthful gastrointestinal function. What a wonderful world where we can work together with organisms that we cannot see to achieve better health!