The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Consensus sought on dog gut bacteria transplants

International survey of small animal vets shows variety in use of novel gastrointestinal treatment.

Standard practices are needed to optimise the impact of donating healthy gut bacteria between dogs, a survey of small animal vet specialists has shown.

A range of methods are in use for the novel therapy, in which bacteria in faeces is transplanted to alleviate chronic gut conditions, according to an international study.

The findings highlight the need for consensus on how best to employ the practice of faecal microbiota transplants (FMT), so that it can be used to best advantage, scientists say.

Outcomes from the survey, by researchers from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, will be used by vets in the Companion Animal Faecal Bank Consortium to establish a protocol for preparation, dosing and administration of FMT in dogs.

Positive feedback

Responses to the team’s questionnaire, from vets in 13 countries, highlighted variations in the preparation, amount and method of administration used for transplants.

It showed that many vets had not used FMT. Among those who had, it was mainly employed to manage long-term gastrointestinal disease, known as chronic enteropathy, as well as parvovirus infection, which affects the intestines, and other types of acute diarrhoea.

Overall, vets reported that recipients responded well, and half said they wished to begin or to continue using the practice for gastrointestinal conditions.

Establishing guidance

Efforts by the vet consortium to reach a consensus for vet practitioners and specialists around the world will focus in the first instance on the administration of FMT, guided by empirical knowledge and data from first prospective studies.

This will be followed by protocols for screening of donor dogs and the best practices for treating severe or long-term diseases.

Vets will also aim to clarify which details need to be addressed most urgently for research towards using FMT in chronic or acute cases in both dogs and cats.

In the longer term, the consortium’s work may include determining whether some dogs may make suitable superdonors, whose gut bacteria is effective in alleviating a range of illnesses.

Faecal microbiota transplantation holds great potential for alleviating serious complications that involve disturbances of the gut flora caused by drugs like antibiotics, but also for long-term gastrointestinal conditions in dogs, and is a relatively simple, inexpensive approach. We hope our findings can help accelerate consensus in the vet community on how best to prepare, dose and administer this treatment, and inform donor selection, to support canine care and enable further research into the benefits of FMT.

Silke SalavatiSenior Lecturer in Small Animal Internal Medicine, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Related links

Scientific publication

Gut bacteria transplants could ease chronic illness

Bacteria insights could advance dog infection treatments

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos. 

The School comprises: 

The Roslin Institute 

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security 

The Roslin Innovation Centre 

The Hospital for Small Animals 

Equine Veterinary Services 

Farm Animal Services 

Easter Bush Pathology 

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education 

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.