HGE in Dogs – What on Earth is It?

by Claire H. on December 31, 2012

Small breed dogs appear to be predisposed to HGE. I recently asked for some blog ideas from our Facebook community and was overwhelmed with the response (a good sort of overwhelmed, of course). The first thing that caught my eye was a post by a woman that said, “HGE, we are currently battling this with our 5-year-old lab!!”

I am in no way a veterinarian, but for the most part, I understand terms that people use on our Facebook page (I have been working here for 7 years and have learned a lot of different things). This was a new one to me. I hopped onto PetEducation.com to see what on earth this term meant. Turns out HGE is the abbreviation for Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (bloody diarrhea). To see a full explanation of HGE, view the expert information article here. Otherwise, here’s a synopsis in my terms.

Dogs affected with HGE will often have:

  • A sudden onset of profuse, bloody diarrhea with a foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • A loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Dehydration

HGE can affect dogs of any size, gender, breed, or age. Younger (2-4 years of age) toy and miniature breeds appear to be predisposed to this syndrome. It is thought that the hyperactivity and stress related to these breeds may be related to the syndrome. The actual cause/origin of this syndrome is unproven and unknown at this time. HGE can occur very rapidly, is not contagious, and can occur without a lifestyle change for the dog.

Catching HGE early and treating it aggressively with I.V. fluids generally leads to a good prognosis for the dog. Dogs with HGE are usually hospitalized for a few days to ensure the best treatment. Treatment will include I.V. fluids, and in some cases may require plasma transfusions for dogs with very low plasma protein levels. Antibiotics may also be part of a dog’s treatment to combat a bacterial infection that may also occur.

There are other conditions in dogs that will show the same symptoms, and may have to be considered if a dog doesn’t respond to therapy for HGE in 24-48 hours.

As with any health issue your dog may be experiencing, if you are concerned for your dog, PLEASE TAKE THEM TO THE VET. Home diagnosis isn’t the way to ensure proper treatment (I tried using a symptom checker for myself one time and got so scared because I had a brain tumor and was possibly dying by the end of my foray into diagnosing myself) and you should always talk with your vet. Learning about what your veterinarian has suggested is always a great idea. Remember, every pet is different and your pet’s vet knows your pet the best for diagnosis and treatment.

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Claire is a mom to three children. She has owned dogs and cats in the past, and currently has one calico cat named Potatoe. Although never owning them, she is very interested in reptiles, and has assisted friends in the past who owned a reptile store.

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