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What Is HGE?

If suddenly your dog threw up blood or had a bloody bowel movement, it may be suffering from HGE (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis).  HGE is a syndrome in dogs where large amounts of fluid seep into their GI tract.  It’s serious and considered a medical emergency.

This is really a mystery disease, as vets are not 100% sure what causes it. It occurs more frequently in high-strung dogs (but not always), so stress, anxiety, and hyperactivity may make your buddy more prone to getting HGE. But the jury is still out on its exact cause. It is slightly more common in toy and other small breeds, but generally seems to affect all breeds and dogs of any age. It seems to appear more in the spring and fall than at other times, yet it’s not considered a seasonal disorder. Luckily, it does not appear to be contagious.

Look for these signs:

  • vomiting (may contain blood)
  • diarrhea
  • no appetite
  • lethargy
  • belly pain
  • grass-eating
  • dehydration
  • collapse

Get your dog to your vet or an animal ER quickly if he exhibits some of the above symptoms. They will confirm it with blood work and other tests. HGE often results in severe dehydration, so aggressive rehydration is important and often done by IV. Anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medication may be given as well. Most vets withhold meals for a day or two to give your dog’s GI tract a chance to heal .Your buddy will most likely be at the vet’s office for at least 24 hours, depending on how he is doing.

The good news? If caught early, the prognosis for recovery is excellent. The bad news? Once he gets HGE, he is more prone to getting it again. Since this condition is somewhat of a mystery, so is prevention. Research has found that dogs that eat a high-quality, balanced diet, have a low-stress environment, and take parasite prevention medications are less inclined to getting HGE.

Although this is not a “common” condition, it’s serious. Anytime your pet has blood in their stool or vomit, get them to the vet quickly. If you do, the chances are good that your best friend will recover!