what one study is doing for pets with tummy troubles

what one study is doing for pets with tummy troubles
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Sep 19 2016

Chronic gastrointestinal issues are troublesome (and messy!) for dogs and owners alike. Researchers from the veterinary school at The University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) are trying to find a better way to diagnose and treat Canine Chronic Enteropathy (CCE), or chronic GI issues.

Chronic gastrointestinal issues can be common in dogs, with symptoms ranging from chronic vomiting and diarrhea to weight loss. The duration of symptoms as well as their severity can vary from dog to dog, as does their response to treatment, making chronic GI problems frustrating for pet owners as well as their veterinarians. Your veterinarian wants to prescribe a treatment that she knows will work for your pet, but with so much variation in symptoms and response to treatment, we don’t always know what is best for each particular pet.

These variations in symptoms and treatment response lead us to believe that multiple factors play a role in chronic intestinal disorders. A myriad of underlying causes could be to blame for chronic diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss, including:

  • Food sensitivity
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Maldigestion/Malabsorption
  • Atypical Addison’s disease
  • Neoplasia

But sometimes, we can’t find an underlying cause for chronic GI signs. We know from human medicine that the bacteria in our guts plays a large role in GI disease, and may be a key to figuring out other more systemic diseases, too.

Could the canine microflora be as important to our dog’s intestinal health, too? That’s what researchers at Penn Vet are trying to determine, but they need your help. Penn Vet is currently recruiting dogs for a clinical trial aimed at identifying the role of intestinal bacteria (otherwise known as microflora) in dogs with chronic gastrointestinal problems. By determining how the population of microflora changes during and after treatment, they hope to help veterinarians better diagnose and treat chronic GI signs.

All initial diagnostics and standard of care treatment for the length of the study (2-8 weeks) will be provided free of charge. There will be a minimum of four visits to Penn Vet, so it’s best if you live nearby.

If your dog has chronic GI signs and you’re not lucky enough to live near Penn Vet, it might still be worth letting your vet know about the study—the results may shed some light on your pet’s problem and lead to a better, more effective treatment. And that’ll be good for you both!