Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs is a sudden-onset of diarrhoea, often very bloody in nature. Some dogs may also vomit.
The disease may affect any breed, gender, and age.
This disease is not contagious.
Left untreated, this can be a deadly disease. However, with prompt veterinary care, most dogs respond to treatment and recover.
Symptoms and Signs:
The most noteable sign seen with HGE is a very sudden onset of bloody diarrhoea in a previously healthy dog. Vomiting, not eating (anorexia), and listlessness are also seen. Dehydration is not usually seen on initial presentation, but shock can quickly develop without treatment.
What Causes HGE?
The exact cause of this disease is unknown. There are many theories - diet, a bacterial infection or bacterial toxin, virus, reaction to an intestinal parasite, but nothing has been proven. Stress may play a role in the development of HGE. Dogs that have an episode of HGE may be prone to another occurence. Many dogs never experience HGE.
HGE is diagnosed primarily by ruling out other causes of bloody diarrhoea. The sudden appearance of bloody diarrhoea and high packed cell volume (PCV) in a healthy dog rule in favour of the HGE diagnosis. Other causes of gastrointestinal bleeding that must be considered as possibilities and subsequently ruled out include:
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Gastrointestinal worms
- Ratsak poisoning
- Gastrointestinal cancer
The mainstay of treatment is aggressive supportive care - no food or water by mouth while on IV fluid therapy. Antibiotics are also given. Food is reintroduced slowly, starting with a bland diet of chicken.
With aggressive supportive care, most dogs recover within a few days.