You ARE What You Eat and So is Your Dog
Dr. Diane Brown, CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, joins us again to talk about fascinating new research on the “gut-brain axis.” In other words, the microscopic bugs inside the dog’s body are being proven to interact with what’s going on in its brain.
From the CHF Newsletter: “The adage “you are what you eat” may be more profound than we ever realized. A growing body of evidence shows a complex system of two-way communication between the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and neurologic system in humans and dogs. The link between GI health and diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autism, and epilepsy has been studied in humans. In fact, patients with celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease have an increased risk of developing epilepsy. Since the community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract – known as the gut microbiome – plays an important role in GI health, what impact does it have on neurologic disease? AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) funded researchers are exploring the role of this microbiomegut-brain axis in canine epilepsy.”
“The bacteria that live in the gut have been shown to have importance to both health and disease,” Brown said.
CHF research is determining what type of bugs normally live in the gut (literally any part of the digestive system from top to bottom). Which ones of those bugs are pathogens and which ones prevent disease is an enormous topic.
Many of us understand, for example, that antibiotics completely change the gut microbiome. But this new research is documenting associations with other disorders, including the impact of bacterial content in the gut and how it is influencing epilepsy and anxiety.
Using proprietary probiotics to manage post antibiotic diarrhea is one thing. But Probiotics used over the course of six weeks is showing an impact on anxiety behaviors in dogs, providing a non-drug based treatment for this frequent issue in all dogs.
Poop is cool!
Researchers speaking at a recent CHF conference even discussed using fecal transplants, delivered as an enema, to transplant healthy flora fecal material thereby improving the health of the dog.
Epilepsy is the number one neurological problem in dogs
Dr. Diane Brown and the Canine Health Foundation are doing battle with neurological disease, specifically epilepsy, in an effort to improve the lives all dogs, and their people.
“Epilepsy is a complex disease,” Brown said. “It presents in different ways. It is present in all dogs, mixed breed and purebred, and in people.”
Epilepsy is a catch all term applying to different breeds, different ages, different causes of seizures. “Idiopathic epilepsy” in layman’s terms means, “we don’t know why your dog is having seizures, but we’re calling it epilepsy.”
Brown notes that seizures can be caused by clearly genetic cases, toxicity, structural defects, inflammatory diseases, brain tumors and other underlying issues. Even more terrifying, up to one-third of epilepsy cases are noted to be resistant to current medication
“We really wanted to make a concerted, multi-year effort trying to address epilepsy in dogs,” Brown said. She added that the research effort is focused on two broad areas: genetics and developing new therapies for the disease.
Break throughs and new studies
A CHF funded grant has already identified a new dosing option for dogs with seizures causing an emergency situation.
“It’s been 20 years since a new drug was identified that can be used in an emergency situation,” Brown said.
Alternatives to standard therapies are also being studied. Brown highlighted a study into the effects of treatment with CBD oil in a large clinical trial with rigorous scientific standards. The research is the first of its kind in the country, and CHF was the first to invest in this exciting effort.
As other studies investigate gene identification, the most recent breakthrough was identifying a form of epilepsy in juvenile Rhodesian Ridgebacks that is directly related to pediatric epilepsy in humans.
While the goal is to develop a DNA test for epilepsy, Brown notes that genetics are complicated and it’s rarely as simple as identifying one gene to breed out of a population.
An even more fascinating study is examining the role of the intestinal tract, the so-called gut-brain axis, that may have influence on neurological health
“We are for the health of ALL dogs. It can create a false impression that purebred dogs are less healthy, but the reality is, they are the ones who contributed to the funding to solve the problem,” Brown said.
CHF Epilepsy Research Initiative, includes grants, research publications, webinars, other resources
Epilepsy white paper:
CHF-funded research study on CBD for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs
Webinar with veterinary neurologist, Dr. Karen Munana:
CHF press release
Pure Dog Talk‘s interview with Liz Hansen on epilepsy research.