HGE in dogs a good link

My good veterinarian friend Lucy, posted a nice article on HGE on FB that I want to share here.

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2946&S=4&SourceID=42&EVetID=300145

There has been a lot of interest in this topic on this blog site.

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

 

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, (HGE) in dogs

Recently I had to rush my Parsons Russell Terrier to the Veterinarian ER. He had vomited the night before and seemed out of sorts a little bit, but not unusual for a 10+ year old dog. The only thing different that night was that he did not play his “Ha Ha I can catch you but you cannot catch me” game with Babs our Border Collie. This is a nightly ritual around the living room furniture.

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Riley

When my husband got up the next morning, Riley had had diarrhea and was listless. This was 5:30 a.m. Larry immediately woke me up and when I looked at Riley I knew he was very sick. We immediately took him to the Veterinary ER.

We spent the morning at the ER and then took him to my regular veterinarian when they opened. The diagnosis was Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, (HGE). Because I had caught the disease before it had progressed and got Riley to the veterinarian right away, he was able to come home that afternoon. By the next day he seemed like his old self but still had a few days of medications and a bland diet left to go.

HGE is a disease that causes sudden vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The symptoms are severe and can be fatal if the dog is not treated right away. The progression of the disease is so fast that a dog can die within 24 hours.

Although it is common in young adult dogs (Riley had it when he was one to two years old) it can show up in older dogs as I found out. It is most common in small breeds but it can affect any dog of any size.

What is important to know is that the disorder occurs very suddenly and without warning. The main symptoms are vomiting and bloody diarrhea which is often bright red, like fresh blood. Some dogs have painful abdomens, they will not eat, can have a high fever and are listless. In Riley’s case his temperature dropped to 98°F.

The exact cause of HGE is unknown but some suspected causes are:

  1. Eating non-food items
  2. Eating different foods that the dog is not used to
  3. Immune-mediated disease
  4. Various toxins
  5. Pancreatitis
  6. Stress (note that stress can be good stress such as excitement about playing, as well as bad)
  7. Anxiety
  8. Hyperactivity
  9. Allergic reaction to food or airborne substances
  10. Intestinal parasites and bacteria

Riley had a battery of tests and X-rays to rule out other causes of his symptoms. Some of the tests that a veterinarian may use could include a CBC, analysis of the blood, urinalysis, X-rays, clotting tests, fecal test, ultrasound or gastrointestinal tract exam.

Treatment must include IV fluids, antibiotics, and in some cases gastrointestinal protectants, anti-vomiting medications and perhaps plasma or colloids. The most critical treatment are IV fluids which must be given right away. If not, the dog will most likely die.

Since there is not clear trigger for HGE, it is hard to prevent it. What I learned is that while a younger dog can tolerate some of the causes, an older dog may not. That means that an owner with an older dog must be more careful. One of the things that my veterinarian stressed is to only feed a high-quality dog food, which I do. Dog foods that are available in the supermarket or discount stores are not high quality. I personally like Annamaet and Wysong foods. Even if you feed your dog a high-quality food, you must also be careful with the treats you give your dog. Poor quality treats may trigger HGE as well. Another important preventative measure is to be sure to give your dog regular heartworm medication as well as tick and flea prevention.

Always keep the phone number and address of your emergency veterinarian clinic handy as well as your regular veterinarian. Some emergency clinics are only open at night and weekends instead of 24 hours. A dog who is being treated for HGE must stay at a clinic under supervision until they are well enough to come home. The total treatment can be costly, Riley’s bill came to over $1000 for both clinics combined. If your dog is young, it might be a good idea to get pet health insurance, many plans are reasonably priced. This is a very good idea if you have a working dog who is more likely to be injured or get sick.

Some people may see the early signs of HGE and feel that the dog will get better in a day or so. What I hope my readers learn from this article is that you cannot wait. It is much better to be safe then have your dog die. The longer the dog suffers from HGE the less likely they will survive due to complications that HGE causes.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hemorrhagic-gastroenteritis-in-dogs