Gut microbes play a crucial role in the regulation of host health, but the true complexity of the gastrointestinal microbiota has been underestimated using traditional culture techniques. Recent molecular-phylogenetic and metagenomic studies have revealed a highly diverse microbial community in the canine and feline gastrointestinal tract of healthy animals, consisting of bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Alterations in microbial communities have also been reported in dogs and cats with chronic enteropathies, notably increases in Proteobacteria and depletions of Firmicutes. This review summarizes the current information about the intestinal microbial ecosystem in dogs and cats. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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