Effects of a synbiotic on fecal quality, short-chain fatty acid concentrations, and the microbiome of healthy sled dogs

Jason W. Gagné, Joseph J. Wakshlag, Kenneth W. Simpson, Scot E. Dowd, Shalini Latchman, Dawn A. Brown, Kit Brown, Kelly S. Swanson, George C. Fahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sled dogs commonly suffer from diarrhea. Although multiple etiologies exist there are limited field studies using synbiotics as a supplement to prevent or treat diarrhea. The objective of this study was to examine alterations in fecal quality, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), and the fecal microbiome in two groups of training sled dogs fed a synbiotic or microcrystalline cellulose placebo. Twenty clinically healthy training sled dogs randomized into two cohorts (9 synbiotic-fed, 8 placebo-fed) for a 6 week prospective study were examined. Fecal pH and fecal short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations were measured and tag-encoded FLX 16S rDNA amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) and quantitative real-time PCR were performed at baseline (10 d prior to the study) and after 2 weeks of treatment with a total treatment time of 6 weeks. Fecal scores for all dogs were assessed at baseline and every day for 6 wk after initiation of treatment. Results: Alterations in the fecal microbiome were observed with a significant rise in Lactobacillaceae in the synbiotic group (P = 0.004) after 2 wk of treatment. A positive correlation was found between Lactobacillaceae and overall butyrate concentration (R = 0.62, p = 0.011) in all dogs. After 5 wk of treatment, there was an improved fecal score and fewer days of diarrhea (Χ2 = 5.482, P = 0.019) in the dogs given synbiotic, which coincided with a presumed contagious outbreak shared by all dogs in the study.Conclusions: Use of this synbiotic results in an increase in presumed beneficial bacterial flora of the host colon which was associated with a decrease in the prevalence of diarrhea in training sled dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number246
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
StatePublished - Dec 5 2013


  • Diarrhea
  • Fecal score
  • Prebiotic
  • Probiotic
  • Sled dog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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