Canine intestinal modeling project

Intestinal biopsies from dogs for organoid development

Purpose of study

Like people, dogs can get intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal adenocarcinomas. In fact, the intestinal bacteria in dogs has a 60% overlap with human intestinal bacteria and dog and human gut function is strikingly similar. Because of these similarities, dogs are starting to get attention as possible intestinal microbiome models. One way to model the canine intestinal tract is to use very small samples from a dog’s GI tract to create something called a cell culture. Cell cultures are made when cells are grown in an artificial environment that mimics the part of the body where the cells came from. Using cell cultures allows us to recreate the conditions found in the canine intestinal tract without causing harm to dogs. The goal of this study is to develop dog cell-culture models that will help us investigate human intestinal diseases. Using these dog cell culture models, we hope to identify exact causes of various intestinal diseases. This discovery would help us develop effective treatments for both humans and dogs.

Dr. Yoko Ambrosini’s Animal GI Project (This link will take you to another site.)


Your dog will not receive a direct benefit by participating in this study. However, you and your dog may help us identify the exact triggers of various intestinal diseases and our study could lead to the identification of novel treatments for both dogs and humans. You will receive a $25 Amazon gift card for your dog’s participation in this study.

Enrollment requirements

For this study, we will be collecting small intestinal samples from two groups of dogs: dogs with suspected GI disease and dogs without GI disease.

  • Dogs with suspected GI disease: Dogs who have had >3 weeks of GI symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss and are scheduled to have an endoscopic procedure at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (WSU VTH) will be eligible for this study. Dogs with parasites or other non-GI diseases and dogs receiving immunosuppressive medications will be excluded from this study.
  • Dogs without GI disease: Dogs in this group must be healthy, with no history of chronic disease, and between 1-10 years of age. To be eligible, they must be scheduled for an elective procedure requiring anesthesia (spay/neuter, dental, etc) with the WSU VTH Community Practice Service.

Treatment methods

Endoscopy is done under anesthesia and is not associated with any obvious discomfort to the patient, even when multiple samples are taken.

  • Dogs with suspected GI disease: Your dog will be anesthetized as part of a planned GI workup with Small Animal Internal Medicine at the WSU VTH and will undergo an endoscopic procedure to diagnose the cause of your dog’s symptoms. During that procedure, your veterinary internist will collect several small intestinal samples for this study. While your dog is under anesthesia, we will also collect a small amount of blood to be analyzed for this study.
  • Dogs without GI disease: Your dog will be anesthetized as part of the elective procedure scheduled with your veterinarian at the WSU VTH. The gastrointestinal endoscopy will then be performed to obtain several small intestinal samples. While your dog is under anesthesia, we will also collect a small amount of blood to be analyzed for this study.

Owner responsibilities

Owners are responsible for the costs associated with their dog’s planned procedure and any other tests or treatments associated with your dog’s appointment.

Contact information

Jennifer Heusser
Clinical Studies Coordinator
cell: 509-432-8002