Pet insurance companies call it a pre-existing condition. I call it hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

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Canine Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis


Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) is an intestinal condition shown as a sudden onset of bloody diarrhea. Left untreated, the dog can go into shock and die. With prompt medical attention, most dogs do recover.


The exact cause is unknown, but some theories include:

  • Diet
  • Bacteria
  • Virus
  • Parasite
  • Immune-mediated disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Shock
  • Stress

Small breed dogs have a higher chance of HGE, but any breed can be affected.


The onset of HGE happens very quickly with no previous warning signs.

The most notable sign seen with HGE is sudden bloody diarrhea in a healthy dog.

Other signs include:

  • Vomiting and dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

Thesesigns progress rapidly and cause shock, collapse, and death. It is crucial to go to your veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs.


Your veterinarian will suspect HGE if your dog was healthy and has sudden bloody diarrhea. The veterinarian will perform tests to rule out other diseases that cause bloody diarrhea (ulcers, colitis, parvovirus, coronavirus, cancer, etc.)

Some tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal examination
  • Clotting tests


Dogs with HGE must be hospitalized for aggressive treatment. Treatment includes:

  • IV fluid replacement: key treatment brings PCV back to normal and keeps your dog out of shock
  • Medication: for nausea
  • Diet: food is withheld until the vomiting has resolved,and then a bland diet is re-introduced


Since the cause is unknown, there is no preventative measure against HGE.


There is an excellent prognosis if you catch the disease early and get veterinary care right away.

Relapses can occur.

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