ISSN 2398-2942      

Canine microbiota dysbiosis index (DI)


J S Suchodolski

Ed Hall

Synonym(s): Dysbiosis and intestinal microbiome assessment


  • The gut microbiome is the collection of all microbes (bacterial, fungi, viruses, protozoa) and their genomes that live in the intestine. Of these, bacteria are by far the largest constituent. The microbiome is important contributor to health and disease. It is considered a metabolic organ, as bacteria produce various metabolites that influence the intestine and other organ systems (eg kidney, brain, heart). An abnormal microbiome is defined as dysbiosis. The definition of dysbiosis includes changes in entire microbiome diversity and richness, relative abundance of different phyla, in individual bacterial taxa, but also in functional changes in the microbiota (eg altered production of metabolites).
  • The Dysbiosis Index (DI) is a validated qPCR assay for canine fecal samples and targets seven important bacterial taxa and summarizes the results as one single number. These bacterial groups have been reported to be commonly altered in dogs with chronic enteropathies.  
  • As a secondary interpretation, based on the abundance of Clostridium hiranonis, the assay can predict normal or abnormal conversion of bile acids in the intestine (ie predicts a lack of conversion of primary to secondary bile acids). 
  • Relative increases in primary bile acids (due to decreased conversion) can lead to a systemic pro-inflammatory state and diarrhea (not proven in dogs and extrapolated from humans). Secondary BA have local and systemic anti-inflammatory properties, activate various receptors in other organ systems, and play a crucial role in suppression of potential enteropathogens such as C. difficile, C. perfringens, and E. coli. Consequently, a decreased abundance of C. hiranonis, and therefore decreased conversion of primary to secondary BA, is strongly associated with intestinal dysbiosis in dogs.  
  • Reference intervals are established for dogs, and therefore the DI can assess a normal vs. abnormal microbiome. This allows following up microbiome changes over time and in response to therapy.  


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  • 74% sensitivity and 95% specificity to separate healthy dogs and dogs with chronic enteropathy.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • AlShawaqfeh M K, Wajid B, Minamoto Y et al (2017) A dysbiosis index to assess microbial changes in fecal samples of dogs with chronic inflammatory enteropathy. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 93, doi: 10.1093/femsec/fix136 PubMed.

Other sources of information


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