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Veterinary Research May Hold Solutions for Chronic Infections

By Amy Ettinger

Anyone who has experienced the pain of a urinary tract or bladder infection can empathize with a pet that suffers from chronic infections.

Veterinarians usually treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) with antibiotics. The problem is that the chronic UTIs dogs develop are resistant to these drugs. That’s why it’s so important that researchers find a way to prevent these infections from occurring in the first place. Scientists are looking to human treatments for solutions.

Dogs that suffer spinal cord injuries are at least 30 percent more likely to develop UTIs. It’s difficult for paralyzed animals to completely empty their bladders and that leads to bacteria building up in the tissue. UTIs are painful, and, in some cases, they become life threatening.

A simple natural remedy may help prevent these infections in dogs: cranberry extract.

People, particularly women, have used this safe, inexpensive home remedy for years. Now, Morris Animal Foundation is funding the first clinical veterinary study to look at the effect of cranberry extract on pets. This three- year clinical trial will involve 150 animals. Dr. Natasha Olby, a researcher at North Carolina State University, will look at the ability of cranberry extract to reduce UTIs in dogs with acute spinal cord injuries.

“Studies have shown that cranberry extract helps prevent bacteria from binding to the wall of the bladder,” Dr. Olby says.

In another study, Dr. Mike Wood, also at North Carolina State University, is determining whether certain drugs used to treat arthritis in dogs can also help prevent UTIs in these animals. Some of these drugs have been successful in preventing UTIs in humans, and Dr. Wood hopes to see similar results in dogs that are likely to get chronic bladder infections.

“This would be a treatment for dogs that are predisposed to UTIs and have gotten them repeatedly over the course of a year,” says Dr. Wood, who is a Foundation First Award
grant recipient. “As an internist, it’s incredibly frustrating to see these dogs with repeated infections. You feel powerless just waiting for it to happen again.”

Both of these studies could have tremendous potential to change how veterinarians manage recurrent bladder infections in the future.

Posted by MAFon August 29, 2012.

Categories: Animal health, Veterinary research


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