Back to Stories & News

July 26, 2021 – Urinary tract infections are one of those health problems people find embarrassing to talk about – especially when it comes to their pets. But these all-too-common infections are distressing for both dogs and their people, and are becoming more difficult to treat.

In dogs as in people, antibiotics are the standard therapy for UTIs. But sometimes treatment falls short of clearing an infection, resulting in rising costs to the owner and discomfort to the patient. Add to this the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, and the need for novel therapeutics to effectively treat UTIs is clear.

New Foundation-Funded Studies Tackle UTIs from Multiple Angles

Urinary tract infections usually are caused by bacteria from the large intestine and skin that make their way into the lower urinary tract.

The body has several defenses against UTIs, including the simple act of voiding (which can flush unwanted bacteria from the urinary tract), immune cells that line the walls of the urinary tract, and inflammation (but not too much) that helps destroy potential invaders. However, many bacteria evade these defenses and cause UTIs.

Several current studies funded by the Foundation focus on different aspects of treatment.

Study One

One study is using a biotherapeutic product that’s instilled into the bladder of dogs with recurrent infections. The researchers are looking at whether non-harmful bacteria can block harmful, disease-causing bacteria from getting established in the urinary tract. If successful, this product could be used instead of antimicrobials to treat UTIs and provide a much-needed new therapy for complicated UTIs.

Study Two

Another study is looking at how bacteria in the urine work together to improve their mutual survival in the harsh environment of the urinary tract. Understanding the details of how bacteria accomplish this could help veterinarians do a better job eliminating infections when multiple bacteria are present.

Study Three

Our most recently funded project is examining whether a three-day course of the antibiotic amoxicillin is as effective as the standard seven-day protocol. A unique aspect of the study is that it’s a cooperative effort between researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and front-line local veterinarians, who typically see the most cases of uncomplicated UTIs and often prescribe amoxicillin.

“Amoxicillin often is the first drug given to dogs diagnosed with simple UTIs,” said Dr. Claire Fellman, Principal Investigator of the study. “But we actually don’t know how well it works. It’s important to use antibiotics wisely and we hope that this study will help us figure out if we can successfully use shorter courses of antibiotics, a plus for owners.

The outcomes of this exciting research could have a big impact on the treatment of UTIs in dogs. These studies are possible thanks to the generous support of donors like you.