Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs
- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a condition that causes vomiting and diarrhoea that contains blood.
- Specialists suspect it’s caused by a nasty bacteria that attacks the lining of the guts.
- Symptoms of HGE usually last 2-4 days and most dogs make a good recovery if they recieve veterinary treatment quickly.
- If your dog is showing any signs of HGE you should contact your vet immediately.
Symptoms of HGE
Symptoms of HGE include:
- Diarrhoea often containing blood and gut lining (looks like strawberry jam)
- Vomiting – vomit may contain blood
- A painful abdomen (tummy) – signs include yelping when picked up, growling when you touch their tummy, standing in a “prayer position” with their front legs on the floor and hind legs stood up
- Pale gums
- Low energy (lethargy)
- Reduced apetite.
Dogs with HGE often become poorly very quickly. They can look perfectly normal one day and extremely unwell the next. Fortunately, most dogs with HGE will make a full recovery a few days after treatment from a vet. Symptoms of HGE are very similar to symptoms of parvovirus.
If your vet thinks your dog has HGE it’s likely they will admit them into the veterinary hospital for treatment. They may need to stay in for several days while they recover.
Treatment for HGE usually includes:
- A drip to give lifesaving fluids
- Anti-sickness medication
- Small bland meals frequently throughout the day
- Antibiotics - although they aren’t always needed
- X-rays and / or blood tests for more information
- Most dogs with HGE are put into an isolation kennel away from other dogs to help stop the spread of HGE to other vulnerable dogs in the hospital.
When to contact your vet
Contact your vet if your dog is showing any signs of HGE. If HGE is treated quickly it is likely your dog will make a full recovery within a few days. Left without treatment, dogs with HGE are likely to become dehydrated which can lead to severe illness and sometimes even death.
You know your dog best. If they don't have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned then contact your vet.
Treatment for HGE can cost hundreds of pounds. Think about insuring your dog as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start. This means you will have all the support you need if they become poorly. It’s also very important to speak openly to your vet about your finances, the cost of treatment, as well as what you think is right for your dog.
Published: June 2019
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.