Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

By: Christine New, DVM

TVMA Member
Dallas, Texas

Published May 2015

Diarrhea is one of the most common reasons owners take their pets to be seen by a veterinarian. But does every case of diarrhea warrant a trip to the veterinary clinic? If your pet is still eating, drinking and overall appears bright, alert and healthy and the diarrhea is infrequent, you could try feeding a bland diet (e.g., chicken and rice). If the diarrhea continues beyond 12 to 24 hours or is increasing in frequency, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian at a convenient time.

When is it Serious?

However, if your pet is having frequent amount of jelly-like bloody diarrhea, vomiting and is weak or lethargicSluggish and apathetic., your pet may be suffering from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Don’t wait until the next available appointment. HGE is a rapidly dehydrating form of diarrhea that is characterized by jelly-like diarrhea that contains a large amount of red or black blood. Pets with HGE can become critically ill in as little as 12 hours. Sometimes dogs with HGE will go into shock or even die.

How Common is HGE?

HGE more commonly affects dogs than cats. All dogs, regardless of size, breed and age, can develop HGE. Small dogs tend to be more prone to this condition. Dogs with a history of a sensitive stomach may experience HGE more frequently than others. HGE is usually caused by dietary indiscretion or ingestion of a different food or treat. HGE commonly occurs after dogs consume human foods that are high in fat and/or seasonings but also occurs in dogs that eat a high-fat doggie treat or eat excessive amounts of treats. Dogs with sensitive stomachs have been known to develop HGE after rapid diet changes to a new dog food. Veterinary clinics tend to see more cases of HGE around the holidays, likely because of all the extra human treats and visiting friends and family that may be more likely to feed your pets scraps from the table. Dogs that get into the trash can or raid the leftovers are at a high risk of developing HGE. Oftentimes, the exact cause of HGE may not be known.

When does HGE Occur?

HGE typically occurs anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after dietary indiscretionThe tendency of certain animal of eating unusual items. Initially, your pet is likely to become lethargicSluggish and apathetic., may skip a meal and vomit and then develops bloody diarrhea. These symptoms can all occur within a few hours of each other.

How is HGE Diagnosed and Treated?

HGE is easily diagnosed by your veterinarian with a simple blood test called a PCV (packed cell volume) or hematocrit. A PCV of greater than 55% with a low to normal protein count is generally considered diagnostic of HGE. Normal PCV values for a dog range from 37% to 55%. Other diseases such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and foreign objects stuck in the GI tract may cause similar signs as HGE. In addition to diagnosing HGE, your veterinarian may also perform other bloodwork, X-rays and fecal testing to rule out these other serious diseases.

The exact cause of HGE is unknown but is thought to be caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens or its enterotoxins. These bacteria are frequently in the pet and coexist with no problem. HGE can also occur with pancreatitis, either as a cause or result of inflammation of the pancreas.

A dog with HGE will almost always have to be hospitalized for a minimum of 24 hours. Large amounts of fluids are given thru an IV catheter, and an antibiotic such as ampicillin or metronidazole is administered as well as anti-nausea medications. The PCV will be monitored during fluid therapy as will electrolyte levels and protein levels.

With aggressive treatment, the outcome is typically good, as the majority of dogs with HGE make a full recovery. HGE is usually an isolated event and while it can recur in the future, it’s best avoided by monitoring your dog’s access to human foods, garbage and new doggie treats.

Dr. Christine New practices veterinary medicine at the Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Dallas.

13 Responses

  1. David says:

    My dog has been sick for the past 5 days. My dog was okay without any prior sign. It was very okay and ate well the night before but in the morning I noticed it refused to eat, and later it started vomiting. The vet Dr gave it some medicction, yet it didn’t stop and the situation got worst the following day. It was now vomiting more and more. Then the Dr placed it on IV some of which contains antibiotics. The dog was feeling better when it slept and woke up the 3rd day. This time it was walking around but at about 1pm it became very weak and down again. The doctor gave it another IV. then at about 11pm the 3rd day it the dog bled from behind (anus I think). It was bright reddish like a strawberry jam, the was so much that at first I thought the dog is dead. But I realised it was only bleeding and very weak. The dog is now with the vet receiving treatment.
    What do you think is the cause and the solution. Whatsapp(+1 9404417121)

  2. Vaibhav Sharma says:

    Brother plss give glucose drop now my dog died today from diheria plss dont be late….give him drop for veterian

  3. Jerry says:

    HGE. My pup is in overnight observation right now. Get your pup to the vet and ask them to test

    • Tom Clay says:

      How is HGE Diagnosed and Treated?
      HGE is easily diagnosed by your veterinarian with a simple blood test called a PCV (packed cell volume) or hematocrit. A PCV of greater than 55% with a low to normal protein count is generally considered diagnostic of HGE. Normal PCV values for a dog range from 37% to 55%. Other diseases such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and foreign objects stuck in the GI tract may cause similar signs as HGE. In addition to diagnosing HGE, your veterinarian may also perform other bloodwork, X-rays and fecal testing to rule out these other serious diseases.
      The exact cause of HGE is unknown but is thought to be caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens or its enterotoxins. These bacteria are frequently in the pet and coexist with no problem. HGE can also occur with pancreatitis, either as a cause or result of inflammation of the pancreas.
      A dog with HGE will almost always have to be hospitalized for a minimum of 24 hours. Large amounts of fluids are given thru an IV catheter, and an antibiotic such as ampicillin or metronidazole is administered as well as anti-nausea medications. The PCV will be monitored during fluid therapy as will electrolyte levels and protein levels.
      With aggressive treatment, the outcome is typically good, as the majority of dogs with HGE make a full recovery. HGE is usually an isolated event and while it can recur in the future, it’s best avoided by monitoring your dog’s access to human foods, garbage and new doggie treats.

      I gave my dog some Spicy shrimp like an idiot & her almost died, I rushed him to ER
      And he is in. recovery at a different ,

      4 take aways ….

      1. Do not feed your dog people food.
      2. Get your dog to a vet immediately!!
      3, check out vets and vet ER’s so you know l exactly where to go so that you don’t get financially taken, I paid over $3000 today because I fed him shrimp I found a fair and honest vet that charged $750 vs the $2300.00 I paid at the first one , I am doing google and other reviews & filing a complaint with the state of TX to hopefully help others.

      4. Everything listed in this post is absolutely true! Learn from my mistake. I sure have.,,
      Good luck & thanks!

  4. Katharine Smith says:

    My 5 year old JRT beagle mix vomited Monday but was otherwise acting normal and still eating & drinking but by Saturday he started vomiting frequently and not drinking. He became lethargic with dry warm nose and hot ears. His temperature was elevated but not so high as to be considered a fever. At 2 am Sunday I took him to emergency vet who gave an injection of Cerenia which stopped the vomiting. At 2 pm Sunday he presented with bloody diahrea. Vet called in Rx for Metronidazole. I realized he was dangerously ill and started him on diluted broth and diluted pedialite at 6 ml. every 15 minutes using an oral dosing syringe as an alternative to returning to emergency vet to have him put on i.v. By the time we got to our regular vet Monday he was still not eating or drinking and lethargic; however would have been worse had I allowed him to dehydrate further. The vet determined he had HGE and to continue treatment with Metronidazole and Hills Science diet low-fat canned food which is easier to digest. He was greatly improved by Tuesday morning and eating, drinking and eager to go for walks. He is still weak but I am now confident he will recover completely. Bottom line – seek treatment and don’t let your dog get dehydrated.

  5. Lisa Carey says:

    My dog is 5 yrs old, part Boston Terrier, part chihuahua. At least 2 to 3 times a week his stomach gurgles constantly and loudly. Those days he has stools that have fresh blood and jelly consisting clear mucous and is frequently constipated on other days. He eats well most of the time & drinks plenty of water. But, I worry on days I see the blood.

  6. Shelta Frazier says:

    We have just had this experience with our 12 year old Papillon who is normally fairly healthy. He has had surgery for bladder stones once, though, and is on a special diet to help curtail the formation of the stones. He’s on Royal Cainin ISO dry dog food. The vet once said that it encourages him to drink lots of water–is there any chance or evidence that this dog food might be a contributing factor for this condition?

  7. Todd Jones says:

    I am NOT a vet, but one of the tell tale signs that it is HGE and not something else is the type of bloody stool. With HGE I was told the intestinal lining is “shedding” (for lack of a better word) and this results in what can look like gelatinous blood mixed with the diarrhea. This is the difference than other types of bloody diarrhea. Our dog has been getting repeated boughts of this every other month or so (last time required an ER visit). Either way, call your vet. This is nothing to take chances on.

  8. Mike Spencer says:

    My baby was a Chihuahua Pug poodle mix.
    3 years 9 mouth and 1 day old.
    On Mar 17 at 8am she had a bloody bowel movement.
    Finally found some one to see her around 11 am
    After calling all my local veterinarians
    That told me they couldn’t see my baby girl.
    Took her to Er was told she Had HGE.
    Gave her meds and sent us home
    Was told to feed her around 5 or 6 that night.
    She refused to eat.
    Never was told how bad she was.
    She passed at 11:20 pm same day.
    She screamed out and I mean she SCREAMED.
    then died.
    So don’t let your Fur baby die like this.
    Miss you izzi B.

  9. Mike Spencer says:

    On Mar 17th.
    My baby Chihuahua Pug poodle mix. 1year 9 mouth
    And 1 day old
    Around 8am had a bloody bowel movement.
    I called all my local veterinarian.
    To see if I could get her in to be told none of them
    Could see her.
    So I finally got a phone number to a animal
    Hospital around 10 am that could see her in ER.
    Took her there was told she had HGE.
    Gave meds told to take her home keep eye on her
    And feed her something light like chicken and rice
    Around 5 or 6 pm.
    She refused to eat.
    Around 10pm she started moaning
    And passed blood again.
    Around 10:30 she screamed out and I mean
    SCREAMED about 5 times
    Started moaning around 11 pm
    At 11:20 pm she passed away.
    People take care of your fur babies .
    IZZI B
    DOB 06/16/2017
    DIED 03/17/2021.

  10. Candy says:

    Go to the vet asap if he is vomiting and he has blood in his stool or vomit.
    You need to act like now.
    Dont wait.
    Older dogs dont make it. So go to the vet.
    If you vomit blood or our stools have blood we go to ER urgently. We dont wait.

  11. Geoff Went says:

    My 6 year old miniature Schnauzer had her last meal at 6.00pm vomited at 10:30pm. Was very restless all through the night. Got dog to vet by 1:00pm the following day put on fluid drip and anti biotics deteriorated after 2 hrs started fitting by 6:00 pm. Died at 6:30.
    Up until 10:30 she was normal behaviour full of life and so happy. HGE is aggressive had I been more knowledgeable of Hge I would have got to vets earlier than I did.

  12. Dawn says:

    I have a 2 yr old 15 lb terrier mix. About 6 months ago my boy Bandit had bloody diarrhea and it looked like jam, barely brown and all pinkish red. He was lethargic, so I call the first vet we usually go to said they were booked and to go to the ER, second choice vet gave us an appointment later in the day and I looked up what it could be and found HGE. So I asked if this could be it and was told yes. Fortunately he had a mild case and was given meds. We haven’t had any problems since. I think the reason he had an episode was because I shared some meat I made that might have been a little too spicy for him. So now when I cook for my dogs, certain spices are not used. It’s a bit perplexing though, I was surprised how the vets didn’t seem to find it as serious as I thought they would. Well the one did say go to the ER. I miss the old days when a Doctor or vet would make time for their regular patients if more serious than others. I suppose I’m pry being oversensitive, but what I saw scared me and the smell of the blood, that’s terrifying.

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