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 not eradicate the Helicobacter infection. The attending veterinarian may then consider prescribing steroid treatment to calm symptoms of the bacterial infection by suppressing the animal’s immune system.
Even with successful treatment, the chance of recurrent Helicobacter infection in any given animal is fairly high, because Heliobacter organisms are so prevalent in the environment.
There is still much to be learned about Helicobacter infection in companion animals. Why are some dogs and cats more susceptible to the bacteria than are others? How exactly does an animal become infected by the bacteria (oral-oral and fecal-oral routes are suspected)? What environmental influences play a role? Can the bacteria cause or contribute to food allergies? Is there any connection between Helicobacter infection and gastric cancer?
Once these and other questions are answered, treatment protocols of course may change. In the meantime, because of the potential for Helicobacter to infect people, owners of infected dogs should avoid being licked on the face or sharing utensils, drinking glasses or other forms of mouth-to-mouth contact with their affected pets.