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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Pet Health Insurance

I am often asked by clients if they should purchase pet insurance. This is a tricky question for several reasons however, I have a few suggestions that might help you decide if pet insurance is right for you.

 

  1. Can you afford the premiums. Most pet insurance policies are flexible as to the amount of coverage that you can carry, the deductibles and what they cover. To help make that decision you can consider the following questions.

 

  1. Is your type of pet prone to illnesses? Certain breeds of dog are more likely to have genetic illnesses than others. The same is true for cats and other pets. Will the pet insurance cover the illnesses most likely to affect your pet?

 

  1. What is your pet’s lifestyle? If you are active with your dog, horse or other type of pet, or if you cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, your pet may be more likely to have an injury.

 

  1. If your dog is a larger breed of dog, he may be more prone to inherited problems such as canine hip dysplasia which can be corrected with surgery.

 

  1. If your pet is prone to a certain disease or inherited issue, find out what treatment costs then compare it to the estimated years it will take for the illness to manifest itself and see if the insurance is worth the cost.

 

  1. Consider the life span of your pet. Most pet insurance rates go up as the pet ages. Some insurance will not cover your pet after a certain age. Of course the most likely time you will need the insurance is in your pets old age when coverage may not be an option.

 

  1. Consider a personal savings plan to cover catastrophic health issues. If you take the projected life span of your pet and the amount of the yearly insurance fee, then multiply it, you will get an idea of how much the insurance will cost over the life of your pet. What you can do is set up a separate savings account and either yearly or monthly, deposit the amount that insurance will cost per year, and do not touch it for any reason. In all probability you will save enough money to cover any medical bills that your pet will have, especially if your pet is healthy into old age. If you do not need the money set aside for your pet by the time your pet passes, you will have money to put toward the new pet.

 

I hope I have given you some helpful suggestions. There is a good web site that can help you review different pet insurance companies if you decide that is the way to go.

https://365petinsurance.com/reviews/

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Homemade cat food

In the first of its kind study by researchers at the University of California, Davis they found that the recipes found on-line, even those written by veterinarians, did not meet the nutritional needs of cats. Some lacked proper instructions, did not clearly identify the ingredients and some even contained products that are toxic to cats.

 

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According to the article, about a decade ago toxic substances were found in cat food that was imported from China. This caused cat owners to stop using commercial cat food and switch to homemade food. (The same happened with dog food.)

The researchers point out that it is OK to feed your cat commercial foods. I suggest that you google sites that evaluate all brands of cat (or dog) foods to see which the best is. Avoid any food that is not made in the US and especially food that comes from China and possibly other countries. Since there has been contamination of produce for humans that originates from Mexico, I would be concerned if any pet food ingredients originate in Mexico as well. This is just my opinion. Keep in mind that the smaller the pet, the less toxic substances it will take to make the pet sick or cause death.

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.

 

A possible cause of endocrine disorders in older cats

Dr. Miaomiao Wang, of the California Environmental Protection Agency has published a study of older cats in Northern California that suggested a link between higher levels of per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in cats with hyperthyroidism.

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PFAS is found in chemicals that are used in industrial processes and consumer products. These chemicals are found in many household products such protective coatings for carpets, furniture and apparel, paper coatings, and  insecticide formulations, just to name a few products.

More research is needed but it is a good idea to keep this in mind. If there are health issues from this chemical in cats, we have to suspect dogs as well. Dogs are more likely to chew these products than cats are.

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.

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.

Canine Leishmania infantum can be transmitted to humans

Dogs contract Leishmania infantum from sand flies. Once the dog has it, the parasite can be transmitted to humans, especially young children. Currently Leishmania is found in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. However, as other diseases have spread, in the future this may also be a risk in other countries.

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Leishmania is a multi-systemic disease that is difficult to treat. However, the good news is that Laura Willen, of Charles University, Czech Republic, and colleagues prepared an immunochromatographic test (ICT) to rapidly screen dogs for the presence of P. perniciosus, a sand fly saliva protein.

According to a report, “The typical history reported by owners of dogs with clinical disease due to L infantum includes the appearance of skin lesions, ocular abnormalities, or epistaxis. These are frequently accompanied by weight loss, exercise intolerance, and lethargy. The main physical examination findings are dermal lesions in 80%–90% of the dogs, lymphadenomegaly in 62%–90%, ocular disease in 16%–81%, splenomegaly in 10%–53%, and abnormal nail growth (onychogryphosis) in 20%–31%. Other clinical findings may include polyuria and polydipsia due to kidney disease, vomiting, colitis, melena, and lameness due to joint, muscle, or bone lesions. The sole presenting signs of disease could be epistaxis, ocular abnormalities, or manifestations of kidney disease without dermal abnormalities.”

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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