These 2 Probiotics Can Help Obese Dogs Lose Weight

SEOUL, South Korea — Obesity’s standing as a major health concern among humans is no secret, but our four-legged friends aren’t immune to the epidemic either. Estimates show that roughly 50 percent of all pets worldwide are obese! Now, researchers in South Korea are offering up a new way for obese dogs to shed some of that excess weight. The scientists report that two strains of probiotics (friendly microbes) appear capable of promoting weight loss in overweight canines.

Originally, researchers from Seoul National University set out to investigate metabolic diseases in companion animals and identify potential probiotics suitable for long-term and safe treatment. Probiotics are living microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts) that benefit the body.

“The initial challenge involved selecting specific metabolic diseases for examination, leading us to focus on the prevalent issue of ‘obesity in pets,’” says study principal investigator Younghoon Kim, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS), Seoul National University, in a media release.

Researchers note that out of the staggeringly high number of older pets that are now obese, a sizable portion of those pets are already undergoing various treatments to lose weight courtesy of their owners, such as dietary changes.

“Given this context, our team initiated experiments with the primary goal of identifying probiotics capable of reducing the body fat percentage in pets,” Prof. Kim adds.

💡What Are Probiotics?

  • Probiotics are tiny living organisms similar to the good bacteria found in your gut
  • You can get them from fermented foods like yogurt, as well as in supplement form
  • They help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria — important for digestion and immune health
A dog with a bowl of homemade dog food
Estimates show that roughly 50 percent of all pets worldwide are obese. (Photo by Zontica on Shutterstock)

Researchers say one of their main aims is to raise awareness regarding the urgent need for further research focusing on probiotics for pets. They emphasize the vast number of probiotic varieties holding potential applications. Beyond just uncovering and acknowledging their role in addressing specific issues, Prof. Kim stresses modern medicine must recognize the broader therapeutic pet possibilities presented by probiotics across a wide spectrum of diseases and companion animals.

“By promoting this awareness, my aspiration is to catalyze increased attention, funding and collaborative efforts in the scientific community to explore the expansive landscape of probiotic applications in pet health,” Prof. Kim explains.

Which probiotics can help slim dogs down?

In an attempt to identify suitable probiotic candidates for pets, study authors scrutinized variations in the composition of intestinal microbiota between young and old dogs. This approach revealed a decline in the population of lactic acid bacteria, Bifidobacterium species and Enterococcus species among older dogs. This finding, in particular, was pivotal in guiding researchers’ decision to employ these specific strains.

During the experimental phase of the study, the research team administered the selected strains (Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301) in unison with a high-fat diet, to a group of beagles. The ensuing results were compelling and demonstrated the strains’ effectiveness in reducing body fat and rectifying the imbalances in intestinal microflora due to obesity.

“The strains we carefully selected demonstrated remarkable success in reducing the body fat percentage in dogs,” Prof. Kim comments. “What set these strains apart was their ability to not only limit dietary intake or enhance excretion to reduce body weight but, more importantly, activate energy metabolism. Even when exposed to a high-calorie diet, we observed a decrease in body weight, alleviation of subcutaneous fat accumulation and an increase in energy metabolism. This confirmed a shift in the body’s metabolic orientation toward fat consumption, rather than fat accumulation.”

a brown and white dog eating food out of a bowl
The probiotics Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301 can help dogs lose excess weight. (photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash)

The accumulation of fat notoriously leads to systemic inflammation and disruption of hormone metabolism. Luckily, the study shows noteworthy improvements in these areas. Among those ingesting the selected strains, researchers report lower inflammation levels and enhanced metabolic activities like the production of insulin. Moreover, the study authors also successfully increased the proportion of commensal bacteria, which are typically known to reside in the body, boost immunity, and act as a defense against harmful bacteria.

Prof. Kim notes it is especially encouraging that the observed changes do not appear to be fleeting. They persist in the dog’s body, ensuring the lost weight stays away over time. This enduring impact highlights the potential long-term benefits of incorporating the probiotic strains into the health regimens of companion animals and pets.

In conclusion, the study authors stress the amount of research being conducted right now in regard to probiotics and pets remains notably inadequate in comparison to probiotic research performed on humans.

“While types of probiotics suitable for human consumption or commercial livestock have been identified and established, the absence of standardized guidelines for companion animals is a glaring gap,” Prof. Kim concludes. “Our study aimed to address this deficiency by striving to broaden the spectrum of probiotics applicable to pets across various environments.”

The study is published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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