London, April 20 : Dogs could be more like us than we previously thought as a new study says that canine and human gut microbiomes have more similar genes and responses to diet than earlier believed.
The findings suggest that we could potentially use data from dogs to study the impact of diet on gut microbiota in humans, and humans could be a good model to study the nutrition of dogs.
The researchers evaluated the gut microbiome of two dog breeds and found that the gene content of the dogs microbiome showed many similarities to the human gut microbiome.
The findings, published in the journal Microbiome, showed that dog microbiome was more similar to humans than the microbiome of pigs or mice.
"We found many similarities between the gene content of the human and dog gut microbiomes.
The results of this comparison suggest that we are more similar to man's best friend than we originally thought," said Luis Pedro Coelho from European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany.
The researchers found that changes in the amount of protein and carbohydrates in the diet had a similar effect on the microbiota of dogs and humans, independent of the dog's breed or sex.
The microbiomes of overweight or obese dogs were found to be more responsive to a high protein diet compared to microbiomes of lean dogs.
"These findings suggest that dogs could be a better model for nutrition studies than pigs or mice," Pedro Coelho said.
"Many people who have pets consider them as part of the family and like humans, dogs have a growing obesity problem.
Therefore, it is important to study the implications of different diets," he added.
The authors cautioned that while humans and dogs host very similar microbes, they are not exactly the same microbes, but very closely related strains of the same species.