Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, commonly referred by the letters “HGE”, is a disease syndrome seen in dogs, characterized by the acute (sudden) onset of bloody diarrhea, usually explosive, accompanied by high packed cell volumes (red blood cells).

Below is an overview on HGE followed by detailed information about Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis in dogs.

Causes of HGE in Dogs

The true cause of HGE is unknown but there are some suspected causes.

Predisposing Factors for HGE

This is a syndrome seen in dogs only. All breeds can be affected, although the incidence is greater in small breed dogs. Schnauzers, Dachshund, Yorkshire terriers, and miniature poodles are the most commonly affected.

HGE usually occurs in adult dogs, with the mean age of 5 years, and there is no sex predilection. HGE is most often seen in city dogs, or dogs housed in urban areas.

What to Watch For

Clinical signs are variable in both the course and severity of the disease. The onset of HGE is usually very quick/immediate, with no previous warning signs or health problems reported in the affected individuals. Signs progress rapidly and become severe within a few hours. Signs of shock, collapse, and sudden death have been reported.

Diagnosis of Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Treatment of Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Patients suspected of having HGE should be hospitalized and treated aggressively because clinical deterioration is often rapid and can be fatal. Treatment includes:

Home Care and Prevention

The prognosis for patients with HGE is excellent if it is caught early and treated aggressively. If you suspect your pet may have HGE, seek veterinary attention immediately. Administer all medication and recommended diet as directed by your veterinarian.

Because there is no known cause of the syndrome, there are no preventative measures that can be recommended in these patients.

In-Depth Information on Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) in Dogs

Many conditions result in hemorrhagic diarrhea, although the hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) syndrome of dogs appears to have unique clinical features that distinguish it as an entity separate from other causes. Although HGE can affect any breed of dog, it is seen most commonly in small breeds.

HGE is considered a common clinical condition, especially in dogs that live in urban settings. There is no way to prevent the syndrome, as we do not know with certainty what causes it. Most affected animals have been previously healthy, have no concurrent illness, and receive the best of care. Clinical findings are variable in both the course and severity of the disease.

The most common sign seen is an acute onset of bloody, often projectile diarrhea. The bloody stools have been likened to dark raspberry jam. The prognosis for patients with HGE is generally excellent if caught early and treated aggressively. Most often hospitalization with intensive fluid therapy and support is necessary.

There are many other diseases/disorders that can appear similar to HGE. These include:

Diagnosis In-depth of HGE in Dogs

Certain diagnostic tests must be performed to diagnose HGE and exclude other disease processes that may cause similar symptoms. Obtaining a complete history, description of clinical signs, and thorough physical examination are all an important part of obtaining a diagnosis. In addition, the following tests are recommended to confirm a diagnosis:

Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to exclude or diagnose concurrent conditions. These tests are not necessary in every case, although they may be of benefit in certain individuals, and are selected on a case by case basis. These include;

Therapy In-depth of HGE in Dogs

Patients suspected of having HGE should be hospitalized and treated aggressively, because clinical deterioration is often rapid and can be fatal. This is a syndrome in which out patient therapy most often is not enough, and certainly may put the patient at great risk, increasing the potential for complications. Successful treatment depends on managing fluid and electrolyte abnormalities and minimizing bacterial invasion of the body. Dietary management is important during the recovery period.

Home Care of HGE in Dogs

Prognosis for HGE in Dogs