Effects of Giardia lamblia Colonization and Fenbendazole Treatment on Canine Fecal Microbiota

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2020 May 5;59(4):423-429. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-19-000113. Online ahead of print.


The gut microbiota (GM) is the sum of hundreds of distinct microbial species that can equal or outnumber their host'ssomatic cells. The GM influences a multitude of physiologic and immunologic processes in the host, and changes in the GM have been shown to alter the phenotypes of animal models. Previous studies using rodents have also shown that the composition of the GM is affected by many factors, including diet, husbandry, housing, and the genetic background of the animals. However, limited information exists about factors that may modulate GM in other laboratory species, such as dogs. We sought to eliminate sporadic Giardia colonization of dogs using fenbendazole (FBZ), an antiprotozoal widely used in biomedical research dog colonies. Concerns that FBZ could have inadvertent effects on the canine GM led us to assess GM over the course of treatment. FBZ (50 mg/kg) was given orally to all dogs in 3 different facilities (n = 19 to 25) for 10 consecutive days. Fecal samples were obtained 2 d before the initiation of treatment, on the last day of treatment, and 2 wk after the completion of treatment. Targeted 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to analyze fecal microbiota. All dogs were clinically normal throughout the sample collection period. Statistical analyses of data showed significant differences between dogs housed in the 3 different facilities, further emphasizing the effect of housing and husbandry factors on the GM. However,negligible differences were seen between time points, indicating that FBZ did not significantly alter the canine GM. Comparison of the GM of Giardia lamblia positive and negative dogs revealed no significant difference between the 2 groups. These findings suggest that FBZ can be used therapeutically in dogs with minimal impact on the GM. Furthermore, the presence ofG. lamblia in clinically normal animals may not be sufficient to influence the normal canine microbiota.