Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) in Dogs
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is identified by blood in the vomit and/or stool, often due to a food borne illness. Because it is a serious disorder than can be potentially fatal, immediate veterinary care is required.
- Weight loss
- Fluid loss
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Hypovolemic shock
Infectious gastroenteritis is caused by pathogens (infectious agents). Some of the pathogens most commonly associated with infectious gastroenteritis include:
- Bacteria (e.g., Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridia)
- Virus (e.g., Parvovirus, Canine distemper)
- Fungi (e.g., Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium)
- Parasites (e.g., Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms, Whipworms, Coccidia)
E. coli, Salmonella and Corynebacterium are the most significant intestinal pathogens because they can be passed from animal to human or vice versa. Salmonella infections are also important due to association with reproductive disorders.
Sudden dietary changes and/or dietary toxins may cause irritation and/or affect the immune system. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis, a chronic form of the illness, has been associated with allergens in dog foods. Gastroenteritis may be also observed due to irritation caused by stress, toxins, physical obstruction, ulcers, and abdominal disorders.
Gastroenteritis is not specific to any breed or gender, however, small breed dogs are more prone to infectious gastroenteritis.
It may be difficult to identify the cause of gastroenteritis. Therefore, invasive diagnostic procedures may be required if routine diagnostic procedures are not successful.
A brief outline of diagnostic procedures:
- Physical obstruction, tumors, ulcers, intestinal blockage, etc.
- Information about the severity, progression and magnitude of the vomiting and diarrhea
- The vaccination record may help in ruling out a parvoviral infection
- A skin test to determine the presence and extent of dehydration
- An abdominal palpation to check abdominal pain and/or abdominal obstruction
- An examination of mucus membranes to determine hemorrhagic losses
- Cardiovascular function provides information on dehydration and/or blood loss
- Visual observation of the vomit and/or stool to determine if there is blood present
Routine blood/biochemical tests:
- Packed cell volume (hematocrit) data to confirm hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Biochemical tests (i.e., liver, kidney, blood protein, and blood sugar)
- Cultural assays to identify any potential microbiological or parasitic organisms
- To locate any potentinal physical obstruction, tumor, ulcer, intestinal blockage, etc.