California company wants to sequence your pet’s poop (for science)

Why it matters to you

If you care about you pup’s health, you should care about its microbiome.

You probably heard that there is a community of trillions of microorganisms living on and in your body and that it plays a fundamental role in what makes you unique, affecting everything from your weight to the way your brain works.

In fact, every animal has its own unique colony of microbes — called a microbiome — crawling over its body and any imbalance in the system could mean the difference between sickness and health.

Now, a California-based company offers to analyze your pet’s poop to study its microbiome. After a successful campaign for KittyBiome in 2015, the company is back with for man’s best friend with DoggyBiome.

Any imbalance in the system could mean the difference between sickness and health.

“One thing that is becoming clear is that many diseases are associated with altered states of the microbiome,” AnimalBiome founder and CEO Holly Ganz told Digital Trends. “Irrespective of whether the microbiome is causing these conditions, such observations highlight why the microbiome is so promising as a diagnostic tool.”

Two years ago, Ganz and her team launched the KittyBiome Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $23,000 to analyze the various microbiomes of domestic cats and study how these microorganisms related to certain diseases. As it turned out, 20 percent of the cats in the study had chronic digestive disorders, according to Ganz, who trained as a microbial ecologist.

“Our subsequent market research has shown that 10 percent of all dogs and cats in the [United States] have chronic digestive disorders,” she added. “This helped me realize that my idea for a microbiome-based diagnostic could address a large market, as well as meet a real need.”

Through the Kickstarter campaign, AnimalBiome hopes to collect and sequence feces from dogs of all shapes and sizes. Its end goal is to create a database of dog microbiomes (as well as health, diet, and lifestyle) which they will use to determine what microbes support health and which can cause illness in an effort to help make pets healthier. The company is also testing at least one wild animal, a wolf named Atka, who lives in a conservation center in New York.

“We are hoping to get contributions from dogs from different breeds and mixes, as well as dogs with different health conditions,” Ganz said. “By understanding what healthy dogs look like and how sick dogs differ, we can create better diagnostics and therapeutics.”

Early-bird rewards to get your pet’s poop sequenced are available for $79 dollars and will later jump to $99.

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