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It’s not very pleasant having to clean up your dog’s vomit and diarrhea when they’re unwell, but one thing that’s worse is worrying about their health. One of the symptoms that pet parents understandably find the scariest is when there’s blood in their dog’s stools.
Sometimes, it’s just a few spots of fresh blood and mucus due to colitis or excessive straining, but if there’s lots of red, fresh blood or black, tarry, digested blood, they’re quite right to be concerned.
Let’s find out about hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs – what it is, what causes it, and how to treat it.
What Is HGE In Dogs?
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis refers to a dog pooping blood and vomiting or a dog vomiting blood and having diarrhea. Occasionally, there is blood in both their vomit and their stools. The blood might vary between dark or black digested blood and red frank blood, and if it’s within your dog’s vomit, it might look a bit like coffee granules. If your dog has any symptoms of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, you should seek veterinary advice.
What Causes HGE In Dogs?
Rather than having just one cause, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis has a few potential causes:
Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome (AHDS)
Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome is characterized by bloody diarrhea, and the term is often used interchangeably with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. The cause is thought to be a bacterium from the Clostridial family. However, the conditions mentioned below may also contribute.
If your dog’s blood is unable to clot, perhaps due to low platelet numbers, Von Willebrand’s disease, or rat poison ingestion, you might notice blood in their feces or their vomit. Depending on the site of the bleeding within their gut, the blood might be bright red and fresh or black and digested.
In addition to these signs, you might notice bruising of their skin, bleeding from their gums, or uncontrollable bleeding from a wound. If you suspect that your dog might have a bleeding disorder, it’s really important to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
As already mentioned, rat poison (also known as rodenticide) can lead to clotting disorders and hemorrhagic diarrhea. However, this isn’t the only toxin that can cause similar signs.
Any caustic or irritant substance can cause gastrointestinal bleeding or ulceration, and you might notice blood in your dog’s poop if this is the case. For this reason, if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, and you’re unsure if it may cause them harm, it’s best to check with your vet right away.
As well as clostridial infections, other viral and bacterial infections can cause hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. One of the most obvious and most common infections is canine parvovirus, which causes foul-smelling diarrhea, which often causes shedding of the gut lining, which can be seen in the feces.
Alongside this diarrhea, dogs are usually very lethargic, dehydrated, and nauseous, and sadly the infection is often fatal. Thankfully, vaccinations against parvovirus are available and can help protect your pup from this deadly disease.
Parasites, including worms and protozoa, can cause weight loss, increased appetite, and hemorrhagic diarrhea. If your dog has lots of worms, you might even see them in their feces or vomit. Since some fecal parasites in dogs can also pass to humans, it’s even more important to treat your pet regularly for intestinal parasites.
Certain medications, toxic substances, and trauma can lead to ulceration in a dog’s stomach or gut. If the stomach is affected, your dog may vomit fresh blood or dark brown or black coffee grounds. If the lower portion of the intestine is affected, it’s more likely that they’ll have red blood in their feces.
From bones to clothing to chewed-up toys, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what some dogs will eat. As well as risking a blockage, foreign bodies in your dog’s guts can cause damage and trauma, leading to bleeding from the gut wall or even perforation.
HGE Symptoms In Dogs
If your dog has hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, they might have the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea with blood
- Melena (digested blood in the feces)
- Fresh blood or ‘coffee grounds’ in their vomit
- Reduced appetite
- Pale gums
How To Treat HGE In Dogs At Home
If your dog has HGE, you should get them checked by a veterinarian. Once the veterinarian has examined them, determined the likely cause, and prescribed medication, you may be able to nurse them at home.
Treatment usually requires antibiotics, gut protectants, and anti-nausea medication, but if your dog is dehydrated, they may also need a fluid drip. To help their recovery, you should feed them a bland diet, ensure they have easy access to water, and administer the medication that your vet has prescribed.
If their condition worsens, you should seek emergency help from your vet.
Does Pet Insurance Cover HGE?
Yes, HGE is eligible for pet insurance coverage as long as no symptoms are present until after the policy’s effective date and any applicable waiting periods. Depending on the severity, HGE treatment can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000. If you suspect your dog has HGE, you should seek out vet care immediately before symptoms worsen and the cost of vet care increases more.
How Long Does HGE In Dogs Last?
With treatment, symptoms of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis usually begin to improve within 48 hours. However, it’s not unusual for it to take 5 days or more for the signs to resolve completely.
An exception to this is parvovirus infection, which can take a week or more to improve. If there is an underlying cause other than infection, recovery may take longer. For instance, if they have ingested rat poison, your dog may require medication and repeat blood tests for a few weeks.
Is HGE In Dogs Contagious?
Many of the infection causes of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis are contagious, so if you have more than one dog, it is sensible to use good hygiene and keep them separate if you can.
Parvovirus, in particular, is very contagious and can be fatal, so it’s important to get your dog tested if they are showing symptoms so that they can be isolated and treated.
HGE Recovery In Dogs
Depending on the cause and whether the symptoms are caught early, the prognosis for dogs with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is usually quite favorable. However, if there is a delay in treatment, dogs can quickly become dehydrated and can even develop shock or sepsis.
Other Possible Poop Problems
Seeing blood in your dog’s poop is really scary, but you must know what signs to look for to help you decide whether it’s serious. So, if your dog is passing black feces, has blood in their vomit, or is not acting themselves, it’s time to get them to a vet. Learn more about what other dogs’ poop colors mean.Tagged With: Poop