With our co-operation partners from human medicine and basic sciences we study spontaneous diseases of the digestive tract of dogs which can serve as models for similar conditions in people. Under the motto “humans help dogs and dogs help humans” we aim at improving the knowledge about chronic digestive tract diseases in dogs, for better diagnosis and treatment options in both species, dogs and humans.
The unit of Small Animal Internal Medicine at the Veterinary Faculty, University of Helsinki has a long and internationally recognized tradition of investigating canine digestive tract disorders. It started with the research group of prof. Elias Westermarck in 1990 and has continued since 2005 under the leadership of prof. Thomas Spillmann, Diplomate ECVIM-CA.
Previous projects investigated important immune mediated disorders such as pancreatic acinar atrophy of German shepherd dogs and rough coated collies and chronic hepatitis of Doberman pinschers.
The group has also contributed new insight into the influence of diet composition, probiotics, antibiotics, and targeted recombinant beta-lactamase on intestinal microbiota and has developed an improved assessment of intestinal permeability in dogs using the contrast medium iohexol as a permeability marker.
In recent years, we have focused on chromoendoscopic methods for the early diagnosis of gastric carcinoma in dogs and started to worked on validating the use of magnet resonance imaging to improve the diagnosis of biliary and pancreatic diseases in dogs and cats. We have been assessing the efficacy of different treatment options for antibiotic responsive diarrhea in dogs using double-blinded placebo controlled clinical trials. For the benefit of the dogs and their living environment, we aim in these trials at the reduction of the use of antibiotics or their replacement by non-antibiotic treatment approaches such as fecal microbiota transplantation. One important contribution to improve the treatment of dogs and cats with chronic intestinal diseases and vitamin B12 deficiency has been the discovery that in affected animals the daily oral substitution is as effective as weekly injections of the vitamin.