BACKGROUND: High protein diets shift the faecal microbiota into a more unfavourable composition in obese humans. In lean dogs, higher protein consumption is accompanied with increased production of putrefactive fermentation products, whereas obese dogs have a different gut microbiota compared to lean dogs. Still, the impact of high dietary protein on gut microbiota in obese dogs remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate faecal microbial changes in lean and obese dogs in response to two different levels of dietary protein. Six healthy lean and six obese Beagles were fed a high protein diet (HP) and a low protein diet (LP) for 28 days each in a crossover design. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and quantitative PCR were performed on faecal samples for microbial profiling. Plasma acylcarnitine and fermentation metabolites were measured.
RESULTS: Dogs fed HP had higher concentrations of protein fermentation metabolites including faecal ammonia, isovalerate, isobutyrate, phenol, indole, serum indoxyl sulphate and plasma 3-OH isovalerylcarnitine compared to dogs fed LP, whereas no changes in faecal concentrations of acetate and butyrate were observed. The abundances of clostridial clusters IV and XIVa, covering the majority of butyrate-producing bacteria, and of the butyrate kinase gene, one of the terminal genes of the butyrate synthesis pathway were higher in dogs on HP compared to LP. Significant interactions between diet and body condition were found for the abundance of Firmicutes, Lactobacillus and clostridial cluster I. The similarity coefficient of faecal microbiota between the two diets was smaller in obese dogs than in lean dogs.
CONCLUSIONS: High protein diet increased the abundance and activity of butyrate-producing bacteria in Beagles independent of the body condition. In addition, increasing dietary protein content had a greater overall impact on faecal microbiota in obese compared to lean dogs.