Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

By | 2011-08-22

1. What is canine hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)?

Canine hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is a syndrome characterized by the acute onset of profuse vomiting and bloody diarrhea with significant hemoconcentration.

2. What is the cause3 of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis?

The cause is unknown. Although the term hemorrhagic gastroenteritis implies an inflammatory condition, the disease is more likely due to altered intestinal mucosal permeability and perhaps mucosal hypersecretion. Cultures of GI contents from HGE-affected dogs have yielded large numbers of Clostridium perfringens, leading to speculation that this organism or its exotoxins are the cause.

3. Which dogs are most likely to be affected with HGE?

Toy and miniature breeds seem particularly prone to HE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis), especially toy and miniature poodles and schnauzers, but the syndrome may affect any breed.

4. What are the clinical signs of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis?

• Acute onset of vomiting

• Profuse, bloody, fetid diarrhea

• Severe depression

• Shock

5. How is the diagnosis of HGE made?

• Extreme hemoconcentration (packed cell volume > 50-60%)

• Bloody, fetid diarrhea

• No leukopenia

• Fecal cytology with increased numbers of clostridial organisms

6. Describe the treatment for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

• Intensive fluid therapy until the packed cell volume is in the normal range and then continued intravenous crystalloid fluids (Normosol-R + potassium chloride) until vomiting is controlled.

• Antibiotics to control C. perfringens (ampicillin or amoxicillin)

• Restriction of food and water

• Antiemetic drugs (metoclopramide)

7. What is the prognosis of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis?

• Early, aggressive fluid therapy consistently results in significant improvement within 24 hours.

• If vomiting and diarrhea are not resolved in 48 hours, a search for other causes mimicking hemorrhagic gastroenteritis should be conducted (parvovirus, coronavirus, GI foreign bodies, intussusception, intestinal volvulus, clostridial enteritis, lymphocytic-plasmocytic enteritis).