Gut Microbiota in Healthy and Atopic Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds  for a clinical research trial to determine the Gut Microbiota.  This study aims to examine whether the types of bacteria in a dog’s gut could be a factor in allergic skin disease.

  • Inclusion Criteria: Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherd dogs which either do not have skin disease (no scratching, rubbing, or head shaking) or have been diagnosed with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. All dogs must have lived in Florida for at least 1 year.
  • Exclusion criteria: Atopic dogs must not have concurrent infection requiring antibiotic or antifungal therapy. Dogs with vomiting or diarrhea in the last month, with a history of chronic gastrointestinal disease or which cannot be removed from antibiotic, antifungal or immunomodulatory treatment for the required withdrawal times will be excluded from the trial. Dogs which are fed raw food diets, or are pregnant or lactating will also be excluded.
  • Procedures:The study will run over 3 weeks and involves 2 visits to the UF CVM Small Animal Hospital. At the first visit we will examine your dog, collect a fecal sample and provide a 15.5lb bag of low-additive dog food (Purina Beyond Simply 9 Chicken) for you to feed your dog. At the second visit 2 weeks later (after eating only the study diet for up to 2 weeks) we will examine your dog, collect a fecal sample, feed him/her artificial sweetener capsules and collect 2 blood samples.
  • Costs: You will not be charged for visits, food, procedures or examinations associated with this study. Owners will be responsible for travel costs and medications to treat skin infection (antibiotics and prednisone) should this appear during the course of the study.
  • Contact:  You can contact our Small Animal Hospital by calling 352 392 2235.  Please schedule an appointment with Dermatology.  Dr. Marsella is the Principal Investigator.


Recent studies in humans have indicated that gut bacteria may be a component in atopic dermatitis, and altering gut bacterial populations may be beneficial in controlling it. The purpose of this study is to find out if the populations of gut bacteria in dogs with atopic dermatitis are different from those in healthy dogs. If there is a difference, then this may be a factor in the development of atopic dermatitis in dogs, and correcting it may be beneficial in treating the condition.