Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) In Dogs

hge in dogs
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HGE in dogs is a fairly common veterinary emergency that frightens dog owners due to its shocking symptoms. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis will often come on quickly, causing the need to act fast in order to nurse your pup back to health.

In this article we’ll dive into the details of this condition, the symptoms to look for, and how you can possibly prevent HGE in your beloved companion.

What is HGE in dogs?

HGE, also known as acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome, is a sudden onset of bloody diarrhea and vomiting in dogs. This condition often comes on quickly, leading owners confused on what could have possibly led to these sudden symptoms.

Sometimes HGE will begin as standard vomiting or diarrhea, and will quickly progress to severe bloody stool. Though some dog’s symptoms may vary, HGE is often quite alarming for the dog owner and leads to a quick visit to their local veterinarian for guidance.

What are the symptoms of HGE in dogs?

While the standard symptoms of HGE include bloody stool and vomit, there are some other symptoms to be aware of as well. Symptoms of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting, sometimes including blood
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Collapse in severe case

The symptoms of HGE in dogs will often vary from dog to dog, and how long the condition has been present. Bloody stool and vomiting will dehydrate dogs rapidly, leading to a fast decline in the dog’s condition. Dogs with severe cases of HGE will appear severely ill, weak, and may even collapse due to dehydration.

It’s important to see your vet immediately upon noticing the first symptoms of HGE in order to prevent your pup from becoming gravely ill.

What can cause HGE in dogs?

The exact cause of HGE in dogs is unknown, but there are a few factors that are often associated with this condition. Since HGE is essentially a severe case of gastrointestinal upset, the standard causes of GI upset in dogs can often be held responsible.

Some causes of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs include:

  • Changes in diet
  • Eating table scraps or greasy food
  • Eating things they shouldn’t such as trash, human food, etc.
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Bacterial infection
  • Stress
  • Drastic change in their environment
  • Infectious diseases such as parvovirus
  • Severe food allergies
  • Allergic reaction
  • Pancreatitis
  • Coagulation disorders or consuming toxins that can cause clotting issues
  • Intestinal ulcers

As you can see, the possible causes of HGE in dogs are endless. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause behind this sudden condition, and are looking into the possibility of HGE being some kind of immune response.

Are some dogs more at risk to HGE than others?

While any dog can experience HGE, there are some breeds who are known to be at risk to gastrointestinal sensitivity. These breeds include Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Pekingese, Maltese, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These breeds are prone to diet sensitivities and other common HGE triggers in general, making them prone to severe gastrointestinal conditions like this.

Dogs with food allergies and stomach sensitives are also more at risk to this condition due to the fragile environment in their GI tract. With this in mind, dogs who have already experienced HGE are more likely to experience this condition again.

How do you diagnose HGE in dogs?

While you may think the diagnosis of this condition is straight forward, there are a few tests that your veterinarian will likely recommend. Since HGE in dogs can cause severe dehydration and other complications, your vet will run multiple tests to determine what your pup requires for treatment.

Your vet will likely run a fecal to rule out any intestinal parasites, they will ideally perform diagnostic blood work to rule out any other medical conditions, they may perform a test to rule out pancreatitis, and they may perform X-rays to rule out any intestinal obstructions if vomiting is present.

All of these diagnostics may seem overwhelming, but they are there to ensure that your pup receives the treatment they need!

What is the recommended treatment?

If your dog is experiencing bloody diarrhea and vomiting, their recommended treatment will vary depending on how severe their symptoms are. HGE treatment is all about reversing their dehydration, correcting the possible bacterial infection that may be causing the diarrhea, curing their nausea and vomiting, and offering them a bland diet that is easily digestible. Depending on the severity this may mean time in the hospital on IV fluids, or it may be able to be managed at home.

When it comes to a smooth treatment for HGE, it all depends on how quickly you act when you first notice your dog’s symptoms. While I know we would prefer for our dog’s upset stomach to be resolved at home, bloody diarrhea is in a league of its own. If you ever see any blood in your dog’s stool, it’s important to have them seen by your veterinarian immediately.

Since HGE can dehydrate your furry companion so quickly, your swift action will only improve their shot as a fast recovery! The dogs that often experience complications in their recovery are the ones who did not receive treatment soon enough. To save you and your pup from trouble down the line, just try your best to have them seen as quickly as possible!

HGE Prognosis

Like we discussed above, the prognosis for HGE in dogs is all about how quickly they are treated. Dehydration in dogs not only leads to them feeling awful, but can bring with it an array of serious health complications. If you make sure to bring your dog to the vet at the first sign of bloody diarrhea or vomit, the prognosis for this condition is great.

However, if a dog does not receive treatment immediately, HGE can be fatal. Dogs can become gravely ill due to severe dehydration, low body temperature due to the dehydration, and the organ complications that come along with these dangers. The longer you wait to seek treatment for your pup, the more complicated their recovery will be.

While this can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. As long as you have an established veterinarian that you are willing to visit once your pup becomes ill, you have everything you need to get your dog through it!

HGE Prevention

We can only offer recommendations that appear to prevent this sudden condition in dogs. You can try to prevent HGE by:

  • Offering your dog a quality diet
  • Try not to abruptly switch their diet
  • Do not offer them table scraps or greasy food
  • Keep your trash out of your dog’s reach
  • Make sure your dog is dewormed and kept on monthly heartworm prevention
  • Try your best to limit stress in your dog’s life
  • Keep up with their yearly physical exams to be aware of any medical conditions