Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) in Dogs: Piper’s Story
“At about 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday, our three-year-old Lhasa Apso, Piper, became very ill,” begins pet parent Nancy. “I was up with her all night and made an appointment with my vet early the next morning. He diagnosed her with a bacterial infection based on lab tests (bloodwork, urinalysis), then gave her a dose of fluids, injections to help with the symptoms she was experiencing, along with three medications.”
The next few days were stressful. “On Monday she did not eat at all. On Tuesday we had her back at the vet for more fluids and she did not eat that day either. By Wednesday, we were back at the vet at 7:30 a.m.,” says Nancy. “X-rays confirmed she had Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) and she was admitted immediately.”
What is HGE?
“HGE is an acute disorder of dogs that occurs suddenly, without warning in young — 2 to 4 years old – healthy, small dogs,” explains Nancy. It is characterized by vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms include:
- Painful abdomen
- Decreased appetite
HGE can affect any breed, age, or size of dog, but vets see it most in small and toy breed dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, Pekingese, and Piper’s breed, Lhasa Apso.
There isn’t a firm verdict on the cause of HGE. It can be dietary related, or due to ingesting a toxin; even pancreatitis can cause HGE. Stress, anxiety, ulcers, trauma, existing bacterial disease or parasite – they are all possible causes as well. This makes diagnosing HGE challenging, and if it’s not treated immediately and early, it can be fatal.
HGE can be similar to CPV (canine parvovirus) in terms of clinical signs and symptoms. CPV is a highly contagious viral illness affecting dogs (primarily puppies), which causes acute gastrointestinal illness. A negative fecal parvovirus test is sometimes necessary to completely rule out CPV. Other potential causes of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and white foam from the mouth include gastrointestinal parasites, bacterial infections including E. coli, Campylobacter, or Salmonella, protozoal infections such as coccidiosis or giardiasis, and gastrointestinal cancer.
Dogs with HGE are severely ill and the condition can be fatal. Dogs who experience HGE are more prone to HGE in the future as well. Because vomiting and diarrhea are extremely dehydrating, IVs with potassium and electrolytes help support the essential functions of the body. Treatments such as antibiotics, as well as anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medications, may be administered. Dogs are usually not fed during the first 24 hours of treatment.
Piper was hospitalized and given two days of IV (intravenous) fluid therapy along with medication. Her total claims were $1,489 and her parents were reimbursed $1,110 (80% reimbursement rate/$200 deductible). She’s made a full recovery and is back to her very cute self!
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