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August 5, 2021 – This month, we’re taking a virtual tour of the United States in celebration of National Dog Day and recognizing the work of our funded researchers to help dogs have longer, healthier lives.

The second stop on our tour is the University of California, Davis, and a study that’s testing a new treatment for urinary tract infections. But first, it’s important to understand a bit more about the disease as it affects dogs. Our focus will be on lower urinary tract infection (UTI), one of the most common problems diagnosed in dogs.

Lower UTIs – The Basics

Bacteria that come from the large intestine and skin are the major culprits responsible for UTIs in dogs, both male and female.

The body has several defenses against these unwanted intruders. The first is that the force of voiding can expel unwanted bacteria from the urinary tract. A second line of defense are immune cells that line the walls of the urinary tract and help prevent infections. Lastly, inflammation (but not too much) helps destroy potential invaders.

Despite the body’s many defense mechanisms, some bacteria can slip past and cause disease.

Antibiotics remain the cornerstone of treatment but, with more and more bacteria developing antibiotic resistance, therapy for urinary tract infections in dogs can be a major headache for both veterinarians and dog owners.

A team at the University of California, Davis, is addressing this problem with a unique study.

The group uses a biotherapeutic – a strain of harmless bacteria that don’t cause disease – called E. coli ASB 212. The ASB 212 is mixed with a small amount of saline and instilled into the bladder using a urinary catheter. The minimally invasive procedure, performed under sedation if needed, takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

The researchers are comparing this product to standard antibiotic therapy and, if successful, the product could replace antibiotics as a treatment for some UTIs. This would be a plus for dogs that have difficulty clearing infections and it would address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance – a win-win for everyone.

“Antibiotic resistance is all over the news and is a very important health concern in both animals and humans,” said Dr. Jodi Westropp, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Principal Investigator on the study. “I want to avoid that but also, as a veterinarian, be able to treat and care for my patients in the most effective way possible.”

The team continues to enroll dogs in their study and hopes to finish the clinical trial within the next year or two. We can’t wait to see what they find!

Next up on our journey is the Lone Star State, where another team is putting probiotics to use treating skin infections in dogs. Thanks for joining us on our road trip!

Your Support Makes New Advances in Canine Health Possible

This important research would not be possible without the support of dog lovers like you. For more than 73 years, Morris Animal Foundation has been a leader in funding research to make the lives of our dogs healthier and happier. And that translates into more time together.

Your help allows us to support unique studies that might not find funding from other sources. Our high impact studies provide hope for a better tomorrow for dogs around the world. Learn more about how you can help!