Amy Cook
Last Updated

A prevalent and often fatal disease in humans and animals, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), is characterized by a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea. The causes can be bacterial or viral, but the best prevention for this condition is avoiding food containing bacteria, such as raw meat.

The article discusses how HGE can be treated once identified if caught early enough, so it is vital to know the signs of this illness when one notices them in themselves or their pet.

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, also known as HGE, is a condition that causes sudden vomiting and diarrhoea. It is most often fatal among animals, including dogs, but it can affect humans as well. There are different forms of this disease (bacterial and viral), though the best way to prevent it is to avoid food containing bacteria, such as raw meat. This is because this illness can spread among pets and people alike.

Typically, HGE appears suddenly in its victims, causing vomiting and explosive diarrhoea within only 24 hours of onset. The illness will subside after two to three days, even without treatment, though this depends on whether the sufferer has caught this illness early enough. Other symptoms that may appear with the vomiting and diarrhoea are fever, depression, dehydration, lack of energy, lethargy, reduced appetite, oral ulcers, abdominal pain/tenderness, pale mucous membranes (i.e., gums), elevated heart rate, high blood pressure (hypertension), petechial bleeding, and bruising. At this point, the illness can range from mild to severe, depending on how quickly it is caught and how much damage it does before being treated. If left untreated, the bacteria that causes HGE will eventually overwhelm its victims.

Two Forms of HGE

Two forms of HGE affect humans and animals: a bacterial form and a viral form. To avoid contracting this illness, it is best to avoid food containing bacteria such as raw meat, especially if you have a pet that gets into your garbage or eats from the table. This is because both human and animal waste may contain contaminated material from the liver of livestock that has been fed raw meat. The bacteria that causes HGE can be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected animal. This could include skin contact or consumption of the flesh from an infected animal, though this is less common in dogs because the dog’s digestive system kills most germs ingested.

Bacterial Form

The bacterial form of HGE is caused by “Escherichia coli” or “Clostridium perfringens”, two of the most common bacteria found in contaminated food. When pet food is contaminated with these bacteria, it can quickly spread to humans who handle it without appropriate protection. This form of HGE is commonly seen after someone has eaten undercooked meats, though it can also be contracted through raw or undercooked eggs. Depending on how these foods are prepared, they may not always contain the bacteria to cause HGE, but people should still exercise caution when handling them, even if cooked.

Viral Form

The viral form of HGE is more common among dogs than human beings. It begins with vomiting and diarrhoea that progresses rapidly to the point that the infected dog is near death. On occasion, this form of HGE can affect a dog’s liver and kidneys after several days. Different viruses cause the viral form of HGE, though one of them is the “Coronavirus”. This virus was once found mainly in dogs from Mexico, but it has since been found in the United States.

There are some precautions that people can take to avoid contracting HGE, including washing one’s hands thoroughly before handling food, cooking meats all the way through, avoiding eating raw meat, and cleaning pet feeding dishes daily. If you contract HGE, treatment will depend on which form of it is present (bacterial or viral) and how severe the illness has become. The main objective of treatment is to get fluids into the sufferer’s body, either through oral rehydration solutions or intravenous injections. Antibiotics may also be given depending on the type of bacteria involved in each case.

This condition in dogs occurs when they develop gastrointestinal bleeding, which leads to vomiting and diarrhoea within only 24 hours of onset. The illness will subside after two to three days, even without treatment, though this depends on whether the sufferer has caught this illness early enough. Other symptoms that may appear with vomiting and diarrhoea are fever, depression, dehydration, lack of energy, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

The cause is unknown, but it has been observed that the disease occurs only in certain breeds such as Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers and Cocker Spaniels. However, dogs of all ages within these breeds can be affected by this illness. Dogs with this condition often start with vomiting and develop diarrhoea in a short period.

HGE is life-threatening when the entire small intestine or large bowel are damaged. Symptoms that warrant immediate veterinary attention are severe dehydration, vomiting blood, bloody stools, lethargy, weakness in back legs, fever above, loss of appetite for more than 24 hours and a significant decrease in water intake.

It has been found that dogs with HGE who are fasted for 12 hours before treatment have a low survival rate, but those who receive carbohydrates for 24 hours before treatment may have a better survival rate. This is why it is essential to not let fasting of more than 12 hours happen before receiving veterinary care after the dog shows symptoms of this disease.

Recommended Therapy

The recommended therapy is fluid replacement therapy in severe cases of HGE, which may include intravenous liquid solutions depending on the issue. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if blood loss is severe. Antibiotics will not help with viral infection but are sometimes used to prevent secondary bacterial infections after vomiting and diarrhoea caused by the viral infecting agent.

Preventive measures include checking with veterinarians about vaccination against coronavirus, one of the virus types that causes HGE. Dogs may also be vaccinated against parvovirus and distemper to reduce the risks of their developing HGE.

The average mortality rate for this disease in dogs is 20 to 30 per cent. Still, some mortality rates for this disease are higher than 70% if the infected dog’s intestines are extensively damaged.

Conclusion

The content provided offers information on what causes hemorrhagic gastroenteritis as well as how to prevent it. People must know the symptoms of this disease to get their dog treated quickly if necessary. The main objective in treatment for HGE, either bacterial or viral, is fluid replacement therapy. Giving the sufferer carbohydrates before entering veterinary care will help them have a higher survival rate during treatment. Prevention of this disease includes checking with veterinarians for vaccination against coronavirus, one of the virus types that causes HGE.


Sources:

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/hemorrhagic-gastroenteritis-dogs

Understanding Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
https://www.vetinfo.com/understanding-hemorrhagic-gastroenteritis-dogs.html

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