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Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis in Dogs — Severe Bloody Diarrhea

Recently we’ve had quite a few cases of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) at Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. The good news with HGE is that, seeing blood in their dog’s stool, many owners will bring them in immediately, allowing us to start treatment right away, greatly improving the survival rate and minimizing hospitalization time. HGE sometimes can be mistaken for colitis, an inflammation of the colon that presents with mucousy, blood-tinged stool. Patients with colitis — which we also see a lot of at Greenbrier — usually are bright and alert and can be treated as outpatients. Dogs with HGE, however, usually present with lethargy and very bloody, watery or mucoid diarrhea, and in severe cases can present in shock from dehydration. The diarrhea in cases of HGE has often been described as “strawberry jam-like”. Occasionally HGE causes vomiting as well.

The etiology or cause of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is unknown but is thought to involve any one of the following: allergy, stress, parasites, or bacteria. Small breed dogs are affected most often, but any dog can get HGE. It is believed that when the condition is present, the permeability of the GI tract is increased, allowing protein and plasma to leak into the bowels and causing the dog to become severely dehydrated. The diagnosis usually is made based on the description of the diarrhea and a simple blood test that looks at the levels of protein and red blood cells. A very high level of red blood cells, low levels of protein and very bloody diarrhea is diagnostic for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

We treat HGE with high levels of IV fluids. Occasionally, dogs with low protein will need an additional type of IV fluid to boost the protein level. Other treatments might include antibiotics (since one theory holds that hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is caused by Clostridium, a form of bacteria), GI protectants, and antiemetics or antinausea medication. If untreated, HGE can be a life-threatening disease. Once placed on IV fluids, most dogs will need to be hospitalized for 1-3 days and then will be fine. But it is extremely important to seek veterinary care immediately if your dog has a bloody stool.

© 2011 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

9 Comments
  1. Reply
    Rosita

    Hi, doctor! It’s me again✌️ one of my beloved dogs, Cleo, is with a bloody diarrhea and don’t wants eating, but the dog IS vaccinated against giardiasis and what can causes a bloody diarrhea? And what we should do before leave Cleo to the vet? I’m very concerned with it 🙁 We have different conceits about animal welfare, due to diferent cultures, but I take care very well of my animals, so, don’t misinterpret me, please. Talk me what can cause a bloody diarrhea on dogs and what should I do before leave my Cleo to the vet. Namaste and keep with God❤️

  2. Reply
    Amy

    hi doctor just ask about my dog honey is 7 year old and earling stand of hge and have poop is black

    • Reply
      Dr. Stewart

      See a vet please.

  3. Reply
    Lorrayne Newman

    Hi..my mini 5 month old dachshund had his Bravecto 112.5 Fluralaner chewable tablet on Tuesday since then he has very offensive very dark muscassy stools.
    He also has Mega Esophagus.
    Problem started after bis Bravecto tablet…other wise he has been eating great, dri king ok and is very active.
    My concern length of time his diarrhea has continued

    • Reply
      Dr. Stewart

      He needs to see a vet immediately and the side effect called into Bravecto (Merck I believe). They may be related or they may not be but the diarrhea is a concern but dark tarry stool is sign of GI bleeding and needs to be addressed asap. Good luck!

  4. Reply
    Angie Leung

    My dog has been diagnosed with HGE , she’s been doing fine with medication but now she starts pooping blood again . Should I wait after the medication has ended or should I visit the vet now?

    • Reply
      Dr. Stewart

      If she was fine and then not fine, see a vet. HGE is not something to mess with.

  5. Reply
    Donna

    This seems crazy but I have had watery diarrhea for 3 days, no formed feces, just raspberry looking things and jelly like on the toilet paper. In all my researching on internet, I can only read about dogs having this problem, I can’t find an instance involving a human. Is it an animal only issue or can it possibly be contracted from animal to human??? PLEASE REPLY!
    Thanks so much

    • Reply
      Dr. Stewart

      See a doctor.

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