Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)
By Dr. Karen Burgess
Your pet and HGE…..
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is a potentially fatal disease that causes severe bloody diarrhea (often resembling raspberry jam), vomiting, depression, and abdominal discomfort. The cause of this disease is unknown, although both bacterial infections and immune problems have been suggested. The good news is that the prognosis for recovery is good with aggressive treatment.
To diagnose HGE other causes of bloody diarrhea and vomiting must first be ruled out. Bloodwork is one of the first tests to be run. It tells us how dehydrated your pet has become, whether infection is in the bloodstream, and whether other problems may be present (for example, pancreatitis, liver disease, or bleeding disorders). Examination of feces under the microscope also helps us look for parasitic infections.
After being admitted to the hospital your pet will have an intravenous (IV) catheter placed in one of their veins. This allows us to give fluids and medication directly into the bloodstream. Initially a large dose (bolus) of fluids is given until your dog’s hydration has improved. Maintenance fluids are then given until vomiting and/or diarrhea resolve. At the same time antibiotics are given and any other necessary medications. A physical examination is performed each day your pet is hospitalized along with nursing care and necessary treatments or diagnostics. We will be keeping in touch with you daily as to how your dog is doing, changes in treatment, and expense.
Your pet will likely go home with a specific food and oral medications. It is important to monitor your pet closely after discharge for any vomiting, stool consistency, appetite/water consumption, and attitude. It is not uncommon for pets to be tired after being sick and hospitalized, but if you are at all concerned, please call. Fortunately, HGE tends to only occur once in a dog’s life, but always watch your pet closely for any signs of recurrence.