National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day was created to increase awareness about gut health and its importance for our pets’ overall health. Observed on September 21, National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day is an initiative of AnimalBiome, the world leader in cat and dog gut microbiome testing and restoration.
Does your cat have beautiful, soft fur? Is your dog a healthy weight and has firm, regular poop? You can thank their gut microbiome.
Like humans, cats and dogs have a complex community of trillions of microorganisms living in their gut. Collectively called the gut microbiome, this community supports almost every aspect of your pet’s health—helping with digestion, protecting against disease, maintaining healthy GI function, and so much more. Disruption of the gut microbiome—due to factors like diet, age, disease, and certain medications—can cause some of these functions to stop working. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms for your pet, like itchy skin, diarrhea, constipation, obesity, and even behavioral issues.
Check out AnimalBiome’s 2022 State of the Gut™ Report!
History of National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day
Dutch businessman and self-taught scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria in the late 17th century, using powerful, single-lens microscopes he made himself. Leeuwenhoek considered these “animalcules,” as he termed them, to be the most marvelous of all of his discoveries. Leeuwenhoek’s work opened the door for studies on the relationships between bacteria and human health and disease.
In 1842, Edinburgh surgeon John Goodsir made one of the first descriptions of gastrointestinal bacteria, discovering a bacterium he named Sarcina ventriculi from the stomach and implicating it as a cause of vomiting. Also around this time, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur postulated that microorganisms known as pathogens or “germs” can lead to disease. A few decades later, German physician and microbiologist Robert Koch extended these earlier studies with the development of a set of scientific rules termed “Koch’s postulates.” Based on the isolation and culture of bacteria from people or animals with the disease, and subsequent inoculation of healthy individuals with the isolated organism to reproduce the disorder, Koch’s postulates provided unequivocal links between specific pathogens and disease.
The relationship between gut bacteria and health and disease was further advanced by the German pediatrician, Theodor Escherich in the late 1880s. Escherich theorized that microorganisms living in the intestine, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), which he discovered, were crucial to comprehending the physiological and pathophysiological processes of the gut.
Almost a century later (in the 1970s), Carl Woese and George Fox revealed the deep evolutionary history shared by all living organisms using molecular sequencing techniques. This led to a new understanding of animal biology, reflecting the strong interdependencies between complex multicellular organisms, their associated commensal or “friendly” microorganisms, and the impact of these relationships on animal physiology.
To further our understanding of these interdependent relationships, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Human Microbiome Project (HMP), initiated in 2007, examined microbial communities from 300 healthy human individuals across several different body sites. The complexity of microbial communities at each body site was examined using molecular sequencing techniques, facilitating investigations on the existence of a core healthy microbiota (also referred to as the microbiome) across individuals. Perturbations disrupting the balance of a healthy gut microbiome are considered to be indicative of dysbiosis. In studies of human health, many diseases have been reported to be associated with dysbiosis of the gut microbiome, including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes (types 1 and 2), multiple sclerosis, autism, allergies, asthma, and cancer.
Ongoing research has also shown that the gut microbiome plays a significant role in our pets’ overall health and well-being. AnimalBiome began testing pet microbiomes in 2015 and, using molecular sequencing techniques, has become the world’s leading pet microbiome research company. They have tested thousands of cats and dogs and boast the world’s most extensive collection of pet microbiome samples, with products and at-home testing kits recommended by more than 1,000 veterinarians.
AnimalBiome’s 2022 State of the Gut™ Report showed that 58% of pets experience at least one symptom, every month, that could be related to an imbalance in their gut microbiome. So it’s more important than ever for pet parents to understand how the bacteria in the gut influence an animal’s digestion, immune functions, skin health, longevity, and other aspects of their well-being.
By learning how to support and improve your cat’s or dog’s gut microbiome, you can help your pet stay healthy and happy for a long time.
National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day timeline
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek constructs microscopic lenses and uses them to discover bacteria, which he terms “animalcules,” using substrate from his own mouth (as well as the mouths of others). Leeuwenhoek also compares oral and fecal bacteria and discovers differences between body sites as well as between health and disease.
John Goodsir’s and Louis Pasteur’s research helps to establish the Germ Theory of Disease, at the time a minor medical concept. This theory postulated that microorganisms known as pathogens or “germs” can cause infection and lead to disease. Robert Koch proposed “Koch’s postulates,” and extended earlier work by establishing links between bacterial pathogens and the diseases of anthrax, tuberculosis, and cholera.
Robert Hungate invents a way to culture and studies anaerobic bacteria, using a “roll-tube” approach. This approach led to the first instance of isolation and culture of human-associated anaerobes.
Ben Eiseman, Chief of Surgery at Denver Veterans Administration Hospital, and colleagues publish the first report documenting successful treatment by Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) of four patients with pseudomembranous enterocolitis.
Carl Woese and George Fox revolutionized the study of relationships between living things, using ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequence analysis to propose three “aboriginal” lines of descent for life. This discovery opened the door to the use of nucleic acid sequence analysis for studying the evolutionary history of organisms, setting the course for much of modern biology.
Norman Pace and colleagues discover new microorganisms using 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing and subsequent analysis, ushering in a new “Golden Age” of Microbial Ecology. This approach leads to an explosion of knowledge about microorganisms in every environment studied.
Sequence-based methods were applied by Kenneth Wilson and Rhonda Blitchington to characterize the diversity of cultivated and uncultivated bacteria within a human fecal sample.
The HMP, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund, HMP’s mission was to further our understanding of how the microbiome impacts human health and disease.
In a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, microbiologist Holly Ganz and her team invited cat parents to submit poop samples. Each participant in this citizen science project got a detailed report on their own cat’s gut microbiome. The team learned that many cats have imbalance-related digestive issues. They set out to share their data and improve these cats’ lives
The company, AnimalBiome, was founded with the goal of improving the health of cats and dogs by unlocking the mysteries of the pet gut microbiome.
AnimalBiome observes the first National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day to create awareness of the importance of pet gut microbiomes and issues the first State of the Gut™ Report.
National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day FAQs
What is the gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome is the community of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that live in your pet’s digestive tract and play a key role in overall health.
Why is the gut microbiome important?
A healthy microbiome is crucial for your pet’s health, as it plays important roles in overall health, from nutrient absorption to mental health. When bacteria are out of balance in your pet’s gut, disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), digestive issues, immune system reactions, and diabetes, can result.
What are the symptoms of a gut microbiome imbalance?
Many pet parents are surprised to learn how many symptoms can be caused by an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Health issues like diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, itchy skin, and even bad breath can be a sign of trouble in your pet’s gut microbiome.
How To Observe National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day
Download AnimalBiome’s 2022 State of the Gut report
On National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day, we encourage all pet parents to learn more about the gut microbiome and the role it plays in your pet’s health. A great resource for pet parents is the AnimalBiome 2022 State of the Gut Report. You can download your copy of the report here . In addition, AnimalBiome has a number of resources for pet parents wanting to learn more about gut health. You can visit AnimalBiome.com for more information.
Learn to recognize the symptoms of an imbalanced gut microbiome
When important groups of bacteria are missing from your pet’s gut, their gut microbiome is out of balance. As a result, some of the gut’s functions can’t work properly and your pet may develop uncomfortable symptoms. Symptoms like diarrhea, soft stool, constipation, vomiting, or even itchy skin can be caused by an imbalanced gut microbiome. Other symptoms may include weight and appetite changes, eating non-food items, and behavioral issues. Learning to recognize the signs of an imbalanced gut microbiome can help you and your veterinarian resolve symptoms before they lead to more serious health issues and is an important part of National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day.
Test your Pet's Gut Microbiome with a Gut Health Test
One of the best ways to determine if there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome is by testing. Gut microbiome testing means examining the bacteria found in an individual stool sample. Examining the bacteria in your pet’s stool sample provides a snapshot of their gut microbiome, the complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract. Testing can detect bacterial imbalances, identify problematic or missing bacterial groups, and provide actionable insights for personalized diet, supplement, or lifestyle changes to improve your pet’s health.
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5 Surprising Facts About Your Pet's Gut
Our Pet’s Gut Contains Trillions of Microorganisms
Your pet’s gut is home to thousands of different kinds of bacteria and other tiny organisms, collectively called the gut microbiome. The bacterial groups may be similar from one cat or dog to the next, but the composition and proportions vary enough from gut to gut that each individual animal’s gut microbiome is unique.
Good Nutrition is Key to a Healthy Gut Microbiome
Your pet’s diet has a profound impact on their gut microbiome because what your pet eats directly feeds the bacteria in their gut. What you feed your cat or dog helps determine which kinds of bacteria thrive and multiply in their gut. That’s why properly managing your pet’s diet is the best and most important way to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Your Pet’s Gut Health Tends to Decline with Age
The bacterial composition of your pet’s gut microbiome can drastically vary over their lifespan. As our pets age, they may experience a general decline in gut bacterial diversity. The reduced diversity can contribute to various illnesses that are common in senior pets.
Your Pet’s Feces Contain Live Bacteria
Your pet’s feces contain a sample of the bacteria and microbes contained within their gut. By using molecular techniques, companies like AnimalBiome can help identify imbalances in the gut microbiome and provide personalized recommendations to pet parents for restoring their pet’s gut health and overall health.
Antibiotic Use Can Lead to an Imbalance in the Gut Microbiome
Oral antibiotics are not specific for the harmful bacteria that may be causing a bacterial infection, and may also kill the beneficial bacteria that support your pet’s gut health. The loss of this beneficial bacteria may cause diarrhea or other health symptoms. For some cats and dogs, this may cause an ongoing imbalance in their gut that could contribute to health conditions like chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation.
Why is National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day Important?
Poor Gut Health is a Core Driver of Increasing Vet Visits
The two most common symptoms of an imbalanced gut are digestive and skin issues. With digestive and skin issues accounting for more than 50% of all veterinary visits, gut microbiome testing has the potential to reduce the number of vet visits in the U.S. significantly.
Almost 30% of Digestive and Skin Issues are Not Resolved With a Vet Visit
When a pet develops symptoms, pet parents often bring them to the vet. However, a significant proportion of pet parents may not follow the vet's full treatment recommendations, resulting in an ineffective attempt to resolve the symptoms successfully.
Nearly 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 7 cats tested have unhealthy levels of E. coli in their gut microbiome.
AnimalBiome’s research found that nearly 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 7 cats have elevated and unhealthy levels of E. coli, making it one of the most common causes of an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Elevated levels of E. coli crowd beneficial bacteria in the gut and reduce your pet’s ability to fight off other infections, which can lead to severe illnesses, including stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.
National Cat & Dog Gut Health Awareness Day dates