Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs revisited

Because so many people have clicked on my HGE article, I thought it might be a good idea to write another article about it.

As I stated in my earlier article, my Parsons Russell Terrier had it twice. Once when he was young which is when it usually manifests itself in dogs, and another time when he was about 8 years old.

What is critical to understand about this illness, is that it can kill a dog in 24 hours and must be treated by a veterinarian. While it is typically found in small dogs such as Toy Poodles and Miniature Schnauzers, it can attack any dog.

The Signs:

  1. Sudden vomiting
  2. Bloody diarrhea
  3. Low blood volume
  4. Severe concentrated blood
  5. Hypovolemic Shock
  6. Very lethargic

If your dog gets HGE, you will see three critical signs, sudden vomiting, bloody diarrhea and your dog will be very lethargic. Very small dogs cannot survive long with these symptoms.

The exact cause is unknown. However, it is suspected that an abnormal reaction to bacteria or a reaction to toxins from the bacteria is one cause of HGE. Another possibility is an extreme reaction to food. This is one reason why it is very important to only feed your dog the highest quality of food. I strongly suggest checking one of the many sites that analyze pet food. Most pet food is not safe or good for your dog. Nothing that you buy at a discount store or supermarket is the high quality that you want.

Another cause is Colostridium perfringens which is another type of bacteria. This has been found in quite a few dogs who have gotten HGE.

The articles that I have researched mention that HGE appears to be similar to canine parvovirus (CPV), making it critical that you take your dog to a veterinarian at the first signs of vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog is up to date on his shots it is not likely to be CPV. There are other illnesses that have similar signs as well which is why an immediate veterinary visit is necessary.

When my dog got it again, he started the symptoms while we were asleep. When my husband woke up early, Riley was very sick. Not knowing when the symptoms started, I immediately took him to the emergency veterinary clinic. When my regular veterinary clinic opened, we transferred Riley to them to spend the rest of the day. By evening he was recovered.

Your veterinarian will start intravenous fluids immediately and will treat the other symptoms which can last up to two days. If you take your dog to the veterinarian right away your dog will most likely survive. Only about 10% of dogs with HGE do not survive. As I experienced with my dog, and statistics show that up to 15% of dogs that get it may get it again.

In my practice as a behavior consultant, I have seen where people whose dog has gotten sick, wait a day or so to see if the dog gets better before they take their dog to the veterinarian. If your dog has HGE, this is a death sentence. Take your dog to the veterinarian at the first signs of any illness.

I hope this article has helped you understand this very dangerous illness. Riley is going on 13 and is very healthy.

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Riley as a puppy with Mom in the background

 

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A new strain of distemper is a risk for dogs

“The new strain of canine distemper virus was identified by UNH pathologists in collaboration with colleagues at Cornell University, University of Georgia, Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative, N.H. Fish and Game, and Vermont Fish and Game. Over a one-year period, pathologists diagnosed canine distemper virus infection in eight largely carnivorous mammals in southeastern New Hampshire and north central Vermont. The animals included three fishers, two gray foxes, one skunk, one raccoon, and one mink.”

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While this new strain may not be a risk for the rest of the country, it would be diligent to alert your veterinarian to the new distemper strain. According to the report a raccoon in Rhode Island was found to have it in 2004. This indicates that it is not new and has potentially spread. There is always the chance in time, it will spread across the country.

 

Some studies about canine intelligence may be bias

Researchers, from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University reviewed 300 research papers that compared the intelligence of dogs to other animals such as domestic animals, social hunters and carnivores. They found that some of the papers showed bias to credit dogs as being smarter when they were equal to other animals.

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The researchers looked at sensory, physical, spatial, and social cognition as well as self-awareness. However, the researchers did not say that dogs were any less intelligent, just that they were not always more intelligent.

It is also important to keep in mind that all tests of this nature, especially when testing another species, are not completely reliable. It is even safe to say that tests of this nature are not 100% reliable when testing fellow humans.

There is no doubt however, that dogs and other animals have shown us that they are much more intelligent than we ever thought. Also keep in mind that in every species, there is a range of intelligence and abilities.

 

Virtual dog helps prevent dog bites

Dogs Trust and the University of Liverpool researchers have created a virtual reality dog that people can approach and interact with that displays signs of aggression.

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The purpose of the project is to educate people, including children, how to recognize signs of aggression in a dog in a safe environment. As the user approaches the dog its behavior changes to include lip licking, lowering of the head and body, front paw lifting, growling and showing of teeth. The team plans to improve the virtual dog to show a variety of behaviors and situations.

This is an excellent project and I hope that it will succeed and be used worldwide to help educate people and teach them how to recognize and understand canine body language. This could also work with all types of animals and would be a safe fantastic way for people to learn about animal behavior.

Sleepovers for shelter dogs

A team of researchers from the Canine Science Collaboratory have determined that if volunteers take shelter dogs home for a few days, it reduces their stress level. The benefits of this mini-vacation last for a while after they are brought back to the shelter.

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The researchers found that the sleepovers provided a break for the dogs from the stress of the shelter. The team found that dogs in a shelter cannot get the sleep that they need because of how busy and noisy it is in a typical shelter.

The team is also looking into other programs that allow dogs to leave shelters, such as field trips and long-term foster care. With a grant from Maddie’s Fund, they are enrolling 100 animal shelters across the country in a study to understand how foster care impacts the dogs in shelters.

Identifying shelter dogs

Arizona State University’s Canine Science Collaboratory researchers Lisa Gunter and Clive Wynne collected DNA from over 900 shelter dogs that were at the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL) in Phoenix, AZ, as well as the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SDHS) in San Diego, CA.

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They found that although only 5% were purebreds, there were 125 distinct breeds that made up the mixed breed dogs. They also found that unless the dog was a purebred, shelter employees could only determine the mix  about 10% of the time.

Interestingly the three most common breeds were the American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua and Poodle but they represented less than half the dogs in the shelters.

The researchers feel that since the bully breeds stay in shelters up to three weeks longer before being adopted, that the emphasis should be on the individual dog’s behavior to match them with their new families rather than the breed. They stress that a behavior assessment program would be very beneficial for shelter dogs.

I personally agree that each dog should be judged on its own merit rather than its breed. Labeling all individuals of a specific breed is profiling at its worst.

 

 

Non-invasive test for liver disease in dogs

Veterinarians at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies have worked with medical doctors to develop a blood test that can detect early liver disease in dogs. They based their studies on the molecule miR-122 which is found in humans who have liver disease.

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Their studies showed that dogs have the same molecule as humans and the team has developed a blood test that can be used on dogs.

Professor Richard Mellanby, who is the Head of Companion Animal Sciences at The Hospital for Small Animals at the University of Edinburgh has stated that the blood test provides a safe, non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. Research in dogs has helped human illnesses many times, it is exciting that human tests can now help dogs.

What is important is that the blood test is safer to use than biopsies which can cause complications and can be expensive. I hope they continue the research to develop a blood test for cats and other pets.

Cruelty to dogs

Reese and Cassie Richard, an MSU master’s of public policy student who now works for the Oregon Commission for the Blind studied who is most likely to abuse a dog and why. They found that crimes that involve animal neglect are often committed by the owner. This would involve general care such as not giving a dog food or water.

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Kicking or stabbing a dog are often committed by a family member or an intimate partner.  It is usually the dog’s owners who engage in dog fighting, often driven by money. Poisoning a dog is typically done by neighbors. Their study also found that people who are more likely to shoot another person is more likely to shoot a dog.

They stressed that one way to reduce animal cruelty is to address the human aspect of the problem. Better animal cruelty policies, education and inter-agency communication would benefit both humans and dogs.

Therapy dogs help children with ADHD

Many people have accepted the use of therapy dogs to help people in various ways. However, a study was done on children ages 7 -9 who were diagnosed with ADHD and had never taken medication to control it.

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Sabrina E. B. Schuck, PhD, MA, executive director of the UCI Child Development Center and assistant professor in residence in the Department of Pediatrics at UCI School of Medicine found that children with ADHD who received canine assisted intervention (CAI) experienced a reduction in inattention and an improvement in social skills.

They also found that the children who were in the CAI group had significantly fewer behavior problems over time than those treated without therapy dogs. This gives parents of children who do not want to use mediation an alternative treatment.

Male fertility drops in humans and dogs

According to research by the scientists at the University of Nottingham, there has been a 50% reduction in male fertility globally, for both humans and dogs. The study shows that there are two causes. One is DEHP a common plasticizer which is found in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys as well as the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB). Although it has been banned world-wide, it is still found in the environment, including in food.

Another study shows that most of PCB 153 (90%) is ingested through food. The foods likely to have it are, fish and fish products, including fish oils which have the highest amount. Next are milk, eggs and dairy products and meat and meat products.

Another report has shown that foxes and deer also have the PCB’s and DEHP in their bodies. How did they get them? If wildlife has been exposed to PCB’s what about other animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, etc.?

At the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollution (POP), PCBs were classified as POP’s and precipitating countries agreed to ban all production of PCB’s and to eliminate them by 2025. But that does not help us today or those exposed previously.

What comes to mind for me are the “editable” products that are sold as a way to clean your dog’s teeth. Most do not advertise that they are 100% digestible. What are the non-digestible ingredients? Are they plastic or some similar product?

Many dog toys are made of plastic. How does this fit into the picture? What about other chew toys made for dogs? Do they contain PCB’s and other harmful ingredients?  These are all things to consider.

This is important information for the dog breeder who may experience a problem with the male dogs in their breeding program. It could be the answer as to why.

The good news is that scientists are working on a solution to solve the drop in male fertility rate and both dogs and humans will benefit from it.

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