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About 40 per cent of Australian dogs are overweight and a Melbourne scientist wants to know why.

La Trobe University animal science honours student Matt Flavel is taking on the unglamorous job of analysing dog faeces for bacteria as part of his study into canine obesity.

The research will investigate the role that bacteria play in dogs' digestive systems.

Mr Flavel said human and mice trials had shown that bacteria appeared to be converting food to fat and he wanted to explore the same idea in dogs.

He wants to test about 300 dogs across Melbourne to compare faecal samples from healthy weight and obese canines.

Mr Flavel, who is from a family that breeds beagles, expects to observe a significant difference in the bacteria from obese dogs compared to healthy pooches.

Once he understands the differences, he can work towards getting rid of the unhealthy bacteria.

Dog owners wishing to allow their dogs to take part in the study should email mrflavelstudents.latrobe.edu.au

The West Australian

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