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Vet Dermatol. 2013 Feb;24(1):137-45.e31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3164.2012.01076.x.

The canine and feline skin microbiome in health and disease.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The skin harbours a diverse and abundant, yet inadequately investigated, microbial population. The population is believed to play an important role in both the pathophysiology and the prevention of disease, through a variety of poorly explored mechanisms. Early studies of the skin microbiota in dogs and cats reported a minimally diverse microbial composition of low overall abundance, most probably as a reflection of the limitations of testing methodology. Despite these limitations, it was clear that the bacterial population of the skin plays an important role in disease and in changes in response to both infectious and noninfectious diseases. Recent advances in technology are challenging some previous assumptions about the canine and feline skin microbiota and, with preliminary application of next-generation sequenced-based methods, it is apparent that the diversity and complexity of the canine skin microbiome has been greatly underestimated. A better understanding of this complex microbial population is critical for elucidation of the pathophysiology of various dermatological (and perhaps systemic) diseases and to develop novel ways to manipulate this microbial population to prevent or treat disease.

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