Helicobacter Infection in Dogs
Definition of Helicobacter Infection
Helicobacter are bacteria commonly found in the digestive tract of dogs, cats and people. These organisms are unique in their ability to survive and thrive in the harsh acidic environment of the stomach, which is hostile to most other bacteria. Helicobacter produce urease and other substances that damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Oral-oral and oral-fecal routes are the most likely way that helicobacter are transmitted between dogs. Flies and other insects may also play a part. In many cases, helicobacter don’t make dogs sick, although it’s not clear why some dogs develop disease while others do not. Certainly, the health of an animal’s immune system plays a role. When symptoms do develop, they usually involve irritation and inflammation of the tissues lining the stomach and small intestine, causing nausea, pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Fortunately, reliable tests are available to diagnose helicobacter infection, which is treatable.
Helicobacter microorganisms are ubiquitous in the environment, which means that they are common and found almost everywhere. Many different species of Helicobacter have been isolated from domestic dogs. Most if not all of these produce urease and other substances that damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, especially various areas of the stomach. It is not clear why certain dogs develop symptoms and disease from these bacteria, while others do not. Certainly, the health of
Infection by the Helicobacter microorganism typically does not cause clinical illness in domestic dogs. When symptoms do develop, they tend to involve inflammation and glandular deterioration of tissues lining the stomach which results in vomiting and other signs of gastrointestinal distress.Affected animals that show signs usually develop varying degrees of gastrointestinal distress. Owners may notice one or more of the following symptoms:Unexplained weight loss, without accompanying vomiting or diarrhea, has also been reported, although less
The attending veterinarian probably will recommend drawing blood to run a complete blood count and a biochemistry panel before performing other diagnostic procedures. While these tests cannot actually be used to diagnose Heliobacter infection, they may help to identify nonspecific changes caused by fluid and electrolyte loss due to vomiting and diarrhea, or other causes of the dog’s discomfort. They also can help rule out other systemic causes of gastric distress. A non-invasive diagnostic tool
Once a Helicobacter infection is conclusively diagnosed by a veterinarian, the current treatment protocol is fairly straightforward. Various combinations of antibiotics (including metronidazole, amoxicillin, clarithromycin, doxycycline, and many others), together with so-called “antacids” (famotidine, omeprazole, and others), have proven to be quite successful in alleviating the clinical signs of Helicobacter infection. All drugs have potential side effects, which owners should discuss with their attending veterinarian.In some cases, the combination of antibiotic and antacid therapy will