Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis - a.k.a. - HGE
HGE is a sudden onset of liquid, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, and lethargy. HGE can become life threatening resulting from dehydration, blood loss, and shock.
HGE only affects dogs, mostly adults of all breeds. Smaller breeds are at a greater risk.
HGE can change from mild to severe rapidly, and reguires medical attention.
The cause of HGE is unknown, however intestinal parasites such as hookworms or an over growth of bacteria in the intestines could be a contributing factor.
There is no specific test for HGE. Along with signs and symptoms, we can do a test called "packed cell volume" (also called PCV or hematocrit). This measures the blood volume made up by red blood cells. It is measured in percentages. Normal PCV in a healthy dog measures 37-55%, meaning 37-55% of the blood volume should be RBC (red blood cells) and the rest is fluids.
A dog with HGE will have a PCV of 60% or higher. This means the patient is dehydrated, causing less fluid in the blood stream.
Treatment of HGE
Treatment is to hospitalize the patient to administer aggressive IV fluids, give antibiotics, antiemetics (anti vomit medication), and to withhold food and water if vomiting. Also, by rechecking the patient’s PCV's frequently, the effectiveness of treatment can be assessed. The IV fluids will assist in getting the PCV back to normal range. This could require 24-72 hours of the patient being hospitalized. The patient’s activity should be restricted, and during recovery should be fed a small amount of a bland diet.
Prognosis for HGE is good as long as treatment is instituted and most patients recover with no complications.
If you would like any more information, please contact our team at Eagle Animal Hospital. We serve Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore, and surrounding areas.
Written by VG, Veterinary Technician