How Helicobacter Infection Affects Dogs
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.
Symptoms of Helicobacter Infection
Affected animals that show signs usually develop varying degrees of gastrointestinal distress. Owners may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Intermittent lack of appetite (inappetance, anorexia)
- Weight loss
- Dehydration (from loss of fluid and electrolytes from vomiting or diarrhea)
- Gastric ulceration
Unexplained weight loss, without accompanying vomiting or diarrhea, has also been reported, although less frequently. Sometimes, Helicobacter causes sub-clinical gastritis – with no noticeable signs whatsoever. Some people suspect that Helicobacter can cause (or at least contribute to) development of food allergies, gastric ulcers and/or inflammatory bowel disease, although this is still under debate. Many veterinarians believe that symptomatic Helicobacter infection occurs in dogs suffering from other underlying gastric diseases or disorders, and that the clinical signs are associated with a weakened immune system.
Dogs at Increased Risk
There is no breed, gender or age predisposition to this bacterial infection. In fact, infection without clinical signs is common in dogs and cats, and many otherwise healthy animals carry this organism. Dogs in shelters and in close quarters are at a greater risk of developing a recognizable Helicobacter infection than are other dogs.