Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Gastritis: helicobacter

Contributor(s): James Simpson, Mellora Sharman


  • Still controversy as to whether helicobacter causes disease in domestic carnivores.
  • May be considered to be part of the normal flora of dogs and cats.
  • Cats may be asymptomatic carriers of Helicobacter pylori, H. felis and Hheilmannii.
  • Cause: spiral bacteria - Helicobacter felis  Helicobacter spp, H. heilmannii and H. pylori are zoonotic.
  • Signs: most animals are asymptomatic, however helicobacters have been associated with chronic vomiting.
  • Diagnosis: brush cytology, histological examination, urease test.
  • Treatment: antibiotics, with or without H2 antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.
  • Prognosis: excellent with appropriate therapy.



  • Helicobacter may cause gastritis Stomach: chronic gastritis and lymphofollicular hyperplasia in cats.
  • Organisms may be observed in healthy cats.
  • Clinical presentation might therefore be unrelated to the presence of helicobacters, and instead result from other causes of chronic vomiting Vomiting
  • Further studies are required to confirm clinical importance of Helicobacter spp.


  • Helicobacter felis Helicobacter spp, H. heilmannii and H. pylori appear to be pathogenic in people.
  • These species have been identified in healthy and sick cats (H. pylori only in an isolated cat colony).
  • Organism colonizes mucus and occasionally parietal (gastric acid secreting) cells   →   produce urease to convert urea to ammonia and produce alkaline microenvironment.
  • Marked lymphoid follicular hyperplasia associated with infection.
  • Potential breakdown in gastric mucosa barrier.
  • Gastritis potentially becomes more advanced - atrophic gastritis.
    Spiral bacteria found in up to 90% of domestic carnivores, depending on the methodology used for detection.


  • Months to years.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Marks S L, Kook P H, Papich M G, Tolbert M K, Willard M D (2018) ACVIM consensus statement: Support for rational administration of gastrointestinal protectants to dogs and cats. JVIM 32(6), 1823-1840 PubMed Full Article.
  • Simpson J (2005) Helicobacter infection in dogs and cats: to treat or not to treat? In Practice 27 (4), 204-207 VetMedResource.
  • Scanziani E, Simpson K W, Monestiroli S et al (2001) Histological and immunohitochemical identification of different Helicobacter species in the gastric mucosa of cats. J Vet Diag Invest 13 (1), 3-12 PubMed.
  • Strauss-Ayali D, Scanziani E, Deng D et al (2001) Helicobacter spp. infection in cats - evaluation of the humoral immune response and prevalence of gastric Helicobacter spp. Vet Microbiol 79 (3), 253-265 PubMed.
  • Neiger R & Simpson K W (2000) Helicobacter infection in dogs and cats: facts and fiction. JVIM 14 (2), 125-133 PubMed.
  • Neiger R, Seiler G, Schmassmann A (1999) Use of a urea breath test to evaluate short-term treatments for cats naturally infected with Helicobacter heilmannii. Am J Vet Res 60, 880-883 PubMed
  • Neiger R, Dieterich C, Burnens A et al (1998) Detection and prevalence of helicobacter infection in pet cats. J Clin Microbiol 36 (3), 634-637 PubMed.
  • Jenkins C & Bassett J R (1997) Helicobacter infection. Comp Cont Ed Prac Vet 19 (3), 267-279 VetMedResource.
  • Lecoindre P, Chevallier M, Peyrol S et al (1997) Pathogenic role of gastric helicobacter spp in domestic carnivores. Vet Res 28 (3), 207-215 PubMed.
  • Happonen I, Saari S, Castren L et al (1996) Comparison of diagnostic methods for detecting gastric helicobacter-like organisms in dogs and cats. J Comp Path 115 (2), 117-127 PubMed.
  • Tennant B (1996) Scientific information document on Helicobacter pylori. JSAP 37 (12), 609-610 PubMed.
  • Geyer C, Colbatzky F, Lechner J et al (1993) Occurance of spiral-shaped bacteria in gastric biopsies in dogs and cats. Vet Rec 133 (1), 18-19 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Fox J S (1995) Helicobacter associated gastric disease in ferrets, dogs and cats. In: Current Veterinary Therapy X. W B Saunders, Philadelphia. pp 720-723.