Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs is an extremely serious condition, and if it not caught very early and treated swiftly, it can be fatal. This very wicked condition can affect any breed of dog at any age; however, there are some breeds that seem to be much more prone than others. It also closely resembles another extremely dangerous condition in dogs: parvovirus. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is considered to be a clinical condition or syndrome, to this date has no known actual cause. However, what is known are the symptoms as well as how devastating it can be to your dog. It also goes by another name; HGE, and this condition can appear almost overnight in your dog as it hits them very rapidly. Symptoms: Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs has some very distinctive symptoms, with the most famous being diarrhea. But this is no ordinary diarrhea, and as an owner, you will understand it when you see it. Once you do see it and recognize it as the threat that it is, the quicker you can get your dog professionally treated, the better their chances of surviving it. With this syndrome you simply cannot wait to see if it corrects itself. The diarrhea will be unlike anything you have even seen in your dog, as it will literally appear almost overnight. Once it starts, it will be explosive in nature, and your dog will have absolutely no control over it. In this case, it will not be a matter of your dog running outside and setting for several minutes as they would with a normal bout of diarrhea, as they will not get the chance. This explosion will also be much more than just feces and mucous; it will also be full of blood. The reason for this is that is literally packed with what is referred to as cell volumes, or red blood cells. It will also be extremely foul in odor and it is smell that you will never forget. Vomiting will also follow, but it will not be anywhere near the severity that the diarrhea is in intensity. Once it fully attacks your dog, they will also develop very acute abdominal pain that is followed by depression as well as dehydration. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs also has a very unique characteristic about it when compared to other similar syndromes or conditions; it is not contagious. This is where the real separation between this syndrome and parvovirus comes into play, as parvovirus is extremely contagious. HGE can and does occur without any change in your dogs diet, their routine, or their environment. However, it is the environment that also leads to the confusion between hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and parvovirus; it is much more likely to affect urban dogs or dogs that live in city environments in the same way parvovirus does. Dogs Affected: Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs can and does affect any breed of dog, but it is much more common in smaller breeds than large breeds. These breeds include Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers, as well as several other miniature breeds including Poodles. It can affect dogs at any age, but for some reason it is much more common in mature adult dogs between the ages of four to six years old. It also has several other very interesting facts. It is much more common in dogs that live in a city environment or dogs that are housed in this same environment, but no one really understand why. Causes: Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs has no known actual causes that can be confirmed by the medical community; however, there are some theories. Because of the fact that it is much more common in smaller breeds, it is held that both stress as well as hyperactivity may play a very dominant role in this syndrome. Small dogs that live in very crowded city environments are more likely to be stressed than larger breeds. However, there are some other theories as well, and they include Endotoxic shock, Immune mediated problems, as well as infectious agents. Endotoxic shock is caused by a toxin that is produced by a form of bacteria such as Escherichia coli. These type of bacteria form part of the cellular structure and are released from dead bacteria that can be absorbed into your dogs colon. Once it has been produced and released from the small intestine, in is then be absorbed into the body in minuet fragments. These very small fragments can cause shock to occur, and if it not treated, it can be fatal. It can also be caused by an immune mediated destruction of your dogs intestinal lining, as your dogs own body is basically attacking itself. However, it is also believed that it may be the result of an infectious agent known as Clostridium. These very toxic agents are found in the soil, water, as well as the intestinal tract of both dogs and humans. They are also considered to be one of the strongest poisons that affect any living entity. Treatments: Treatments for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs have to be done extremely fast, not only because of the explosive nature of the diarrhea and the dehydration, but also because of the blood that is present and is being cast out. It will be absolutely essential that your dog is given intravenous fluid replacement as quickly as possible. Your dog will also be given antibiotics to prevent any bacterial infections that may have triggered the syndrome. They may also have to be given transfusion of plasma if their plasma protein levels that are taken by your veterinarian come back as very low. All food and water will also be stopped for at least one to two days to calm your dogs system. If they do respond favorably, both will slowly reintroduced back to your dog. In most all cases, your dog will have to be hospitalized for several days as this is a potentially fatal condition if not corrected. If these treatments do not work, the overall prognosis is now very grim. Summary: Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs and the overall prognosis is generally very good if the following conditions have been met; it has to be addresses very rapidly and aggressively treated by a professional. This is not a condition where you can give your dog any type of over the counter treatment as it is extremely dangerous. Although it is not parvovirus and it is not considered to be contagious, it is every bit as dangerous. References: Hall, EJ, German, Alex J. Diseases of the Small Intestine. In Ettinger, SJ; Feldman, EC (eds.) Textbook of Veterinary Practice. Elsevier, Saunders. Saint Louis MO; 2005: 1354-1355. Digestive Systems. In Aiello, SE (ed). The Merck Veterinary Manual, Eighth Edition. 1998: 302-303.