8 responses

  1. Jen Robinson
    August 27, 2020

    Good article.
    I’ve often wondered if my dogs’ love of cat feces and various other disgusting things has something to do with enhancing gut flora. But I don’t expect to see research on that any time soon 🙂
    There’s so much we don’t know.


  2. Skiddsy
    November 2, 2020

    I think there’s at least some room for things like FMT (fecal microbiota transplant). It’s approved for chronic, treatment resistant c diff in humans and is effective when just vancomycin isn’t enough, and trials around FMT and IBD seem to be showing some benefit (I’m admittedly biased as an IBD patient myself, I’m running low on treatment options and a poop transplant is far better than a colectomy, and I know animals with IBD don’t have the same extent of options, there’s no ileostomies for dogs or humira for cats).

    I do think there’s a potential pathway to better options for things like IBD than a life bouncing on and off corticosteroids though understanding of fecal microbiota, or maybe treating a chronic intestinal infection, as in human c diff. But we still don’t know enough to say much of anything from a commercial test, and specific foods and supplements are not the same thing as FMT and it seems like just a way to tag on to the probiotic and pet food craze and sap wallets of people who are trying to keep their pets healthy.

    Next thing you know they’ll have you send in anal gland secretions and they’ll tell you why your dogs have socialization problems.

    I could almost see a viable option for commercial fecal testing for GI parasites and then suggesting appropriate dewormers, but these tests suggest we know what the “right” gut microbiome looks like, and that is something we do not know and it’s unlikely there’s a single “best” gut microbiome anyways.


    • skeptvet
      November 3, 2020

      The key here is that these could be useful therapies, but we haven’t yet shown hat they are or how to use them. The problem with them is not that we know they don’t work, only that so far we don’t know that they do, and until we have that evidence, we are quite possible wasting our patients’ time or even doing harm.


  3. S. Rae
    February 6, 2021

    I say this sincerely, and as a scientist; I see a lot of valid skeptism on your site, but not a lot of suggested alternatives.

    I have a dog with severe, non-responsive IBD. I’ve tried everything the vet suggested and even gone through pubmed I don’t know how many times trying out any viable solutions (such as supplementing with beta glucans that showed promise in a clinical trial with n of 41) nothing has worked.

    Do you have any suggestions on what does work?


    • skeptvet
      February 6, 2021

      I’m sorry you are having a tough time with your dog, but I think you are misconstruing the purpose of this site. I am not providing a comprehensive review of all therapies for specific medical problems or solutions for individual cases, which no one can legitimately do on the internet. I review the evidence for specific hypotheses, particularly those that are aggressively promoted without good evidence. This helps people to make informed decisions, but no web site is going to provide all the answers for all individuals.

      The most appropriate thing to do is what you have done, which is work with individual veterinarians who use the best available evidence to formulate strategies for helping your dog. For difficulty cases, a board-certified internal medicine specialist is likely appropriate. There are reviews of available therapies for IBD and the associated evidence, but nothing is going to substitute for a consistent relationship with a personal veterinarian.

      Of course, the difficult part is that there is not going to be a perfect solution for every patient because our knowledge is always limited and imperfect. Pseudoscience thrives on the margins because people are desperate for cures when science-based medicine is not meeting their needs. This is understandable, but the desire for these solutions, and the fact that people claim to have them without proving those claims, doesn’t make the solutions real. I don’t know what might or might not help your dog, all I can do is offer information on specific therapies, which will be useful to some but not to everyone.
      Good luck!


  4. Tina Fanetti
    March 15, 2022

    Has there been any update to this research?


    • skeptvet
      March 16, 2022

      There have been more studies attempting to identify the variety of organisms present in the canine GI tract, but nothing clinical showing that testing is useful in diagnosis or guiding treatment of disease.


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