Causes of Helicobacter Infection
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 a given animal’s immune system plays an important part. Helicobacter also can accompany and exacerbate other preexisting gastric disorders.
This bacterial organism is unique in its ability to survive and thrive in the harsh acidic environment of the stomach, which is hostile to most other bacteria. The mode of transmission of helicobacter infection between dogs is not well understood. Current thought is that oral-oral and oral-fecal routes are probably the most likely way that infection is transmitted. Flies and other vectors are also suspected to play a part in the transmission of Helicobacter infection.
Preventing Helicobacter Infection
Because the cause-and-effect relationship between Helicobacter and symptomatic gastric disease is not well understood, prevention is not really realistic. General good dietary and overall health practices can boost immune system strength and help to prevent both bacterial and viral infections.
Gastric symptoms caused by Helicobacter are frustrating for owners of affected dogs. Fortunately, a number of tests are available to diagnose infection with Helicobacter, and the infection usually can be treated successfully with a combination of antibiotic and anti-secretory medications.
Helicobacter infection has zoonotic potential for transmission from cats and dogs to people. While this is uncommon, it is worthy of note.