Probiotics and Restoring the Gut Microbiome


By Dr. Michael W. Fox From Animal Doctor syndicated newspaper column, Dec 2022

DEAR DR. FOX, I think many of your readers and attending veterinarians seeking to reduce their use of antibiotics and so-called special prescription diets for a number of health conditions which could and should be effectively treated with Microbiome Restorative Therapy and additional supportive treatments. Why is it so important to have a good Microbiome in your pets? If the gut is 75 to 80% of a good immune system, the reason is because of the diverse microbiome and the lymphatics located there and what it does for the body.

It is important for pet owners to know how to nurture and care for this symbiotic system of gastrointestinal flora and other microbes in the body. The communication within the body is derived from the brain to other organs. The Microbiome via the vagus nerve communicates with the brain and therefore influences the rest of the body. We are identifying the gut as a second brain because of all the influences it has on other organs. Gut bacteria can also trigger the release of immune chemicals called cytokines. These small proteins can either increase or reduce levels of inflammation, which directly impact the brain. Besides influencing the functions of different organs, the Microbiome also affects the behavior of the animal.

In 2012 at MASH Main Street Animal Services of Hopkinton MA we did the first fecal transplant for a very sick standard poodle. It turned the dog’s life around and since then we have continued to do what we call MicroBiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT). We coined the name of the procedure and have done it for over 20,000 treatments. The key success to this treatment is the quality of the donor animal. Giving a healthy Microbiome from a donor who has been bred with multiple generations naturally birthed and protected from herbicides, pesticides, preservatives, indoor and outdoor chemicals and even antibiotics and other drugs that can damage the species that are in the gut or other organs. The mental health and holistic health care is crucial to keep a balance in the animal donors. The microbiome is passed from mother to baby and if generations have been on drugs and antibiotics those microbes may never be passed to the next generation.

What conditions would MBRT help? Gastrointestinal abnormalities, chronic diarrhea, Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, irritable bowel, dysbiosis, obesity, kidney and liver inflammation, skin and food allergies, infections both viral and bacterial (Parvo, Corona, MRSA), auto- immune disease, behavioral issues and even cancers. One can reboot the gut of an ill animal with the special Microbiome of a healthy balanced vibrant animal donor. The behavioral issues that are reduced and changed with the introduction of a Microbiome from a happy well-balanced dog is shocking. Aggressive and anxious dogs given a balanced Microbiome become happier and less aggressive. When their Microbiome is disrupted with heartworm and flea medication, pesticides, glyphosate, chlorine, fluoride and antibiotics a reversal can happen acutely and they can return to their difficult behavior.

So how can you get a healthy Microbiome donor? Go to the websites and to get more detailed information and can watch videos about this procedure and about how to find veterinarians that do this treatment. I have also done MBRT on some cats but have a limited feline donor source that meets my safety criteria. Margo Roman, DVM, CVA, COT, CPT Hopkinton, MA 01748

DEAR DR.M. R., I greatly appreciate your synopsis of your treatment protocol employing healthy microbiome restoration which is also being more widely applied to humans as well as companion animals. You are one of the pioneers in this field, echoing the ancient tradition of bolus-transfer in ailing calves and lambs of their mothers’ regurgitated cud to provide them with healthy rumen microorganisms.

Rabbits naturally engage in refection, eating a fresh batch of feces to get more nutrients and possibly beneficial gut bacteria. Dogs engaging in coprophagia,— eating their own stools of that of others including deer, rabbits and humans,— or engaging in pica, eating soil and other materials, may be following a similar path seeking gut microbiome restoration. But there are risks of ingesting harmful organisms including parasites. Highly processed, heat-sterilized pet foods could be part of the problem of gut microbiome depletion and imbalance, and even make dogs more prone to bacterial infections from contaminated dog food especially kibble sprayed with “animal digest.”

I am glad to see that the American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners joint guidelines on antimicrobial stewardship, the misuse of which has many harmful consequences including dysbiosis with debilitating chronic diarrhea in dogs and cats, conduct diagnostic testing of antibiotic sensitivity in suspect bacteria; watchful waiting to see if patients can clear up themselves without antimicrobials; use of alternatives to oral antimicrobials such as bathing, sprays or ointments. (JAVMA Sept 2022 Vol 260. p.1419).

This will be challenging for some conditions such as pneumonia, septicemia and bacterial cystitis for example. I think this is where basic MBRT treatments would be most appropriate after judicious and minimal oral or intravenous antimicrobial administration to help repair animals’ immune systems, coupled with prescribed, biologically appropriate diets with, minimally processed and ideally Organically Certified and humanely and sustainably processed ingredients.

I am concerned that some oral probiotic treatments are of limited value because the bacteria are destroyed by stomach acids. How do you prevent that in your treatment? Dr. Roman responds: We do double and triple walled capsules to get the fecal bacteria into the small intestines. Yes, we want a normal distribution of microbes in the stomach as well. Yes, acid will kill some but some will survive and be an important part of the microflora of the stomach.

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