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Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

Tummy upsets in dogs can have many causes, but a common cause of diarrhoea in our canine pals is Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE).

What is HGE?

Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, also known as Acute Haemorrhagic Diarrhoea Syndrome, is inflammation of the stomach and intestines that leads to watery and bloody diarrhoea. The inciting cause is usually unknown, although it is theorised to have a relation with an overgrowth of Clostridium perfrigens Type A (an intestinal bacteria) that produces toxins which cause ulcers in the lining of the stomach and intestines.  This is not to be confused with Canine Parvovirus which has similar symptoms but more commonly affects young, unvaccinated dogs and puppies.

Who is affected?

HGE can unfortunately affect any dog, although it often occurs in young, small breed dogs. This is reflected in the breed prevalence data from the PetSure database, with 8 of the top 10 breeds all being small breeds.

According to PetSure data in the 2020 calendar year, HGE was most prevalent in the following breeds:

BreedPrevalence
Australian Silky Terrier1.15%
Italian Greyhound1.14%
Miniature Schnauzer0.88%
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel0.73%
Welsh Corgi – Pembroke0.72%
Dachshund0.67%
Weimaraner0.57%
Collie – Rough0.56%
Havanese0.55%
Tibetan Spaniel0.55%

Prevalence = Total number of unique claiming pets / total number of insured pets across 12-month period. Excludes breeds with less than 500 active pet insurance policies.

Signs of HGE: 

Signs of HGE are usually associated with gastrointestinal disease. Vomiting is common in the early stages of the disease and may include blood. This normally precedes diarrhoea which is usually very watery and bloody, and the blood may be red (known as frank blood) or may be dark brown or black if it’s been digested (melena). The pup patient may appear lethargic and painful in the abdomen. They may be hunched or yelp when picked up. If the vomiting and diarrhoea are left too long without intervention, dehydration can quickly set in. Severe bleeding can result in anaemia. Anaemia in pets may be indicated by pale gums, panting and in some cases collapse. If your pet has vomiting or diarrhoea with blood, it is best to always get in touch with the Vet immediately. Blood in the vomit or stools can also be a sign of other serious diseases, including rat bait toxicity, Canine Parvo Virus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and cancers.

Management of HGE

Treating HGE is usually symptomatic, meaning that managing the symptoms is important to help the pup patient in recovery. Hospitalisation is often required so the pet can go on a drip to help correct dehydration and prevent damage to the organs. Anti-nausea medication and pain relief will be required to help keep the patient comfortable. Antibiotics may or may not be prescribed, as well as gastroprotectant medication to help manage ulceration. Dietary management is often also required, and a low fat and easily digestible diet is the mainstay. Avoiding rich and fatty foods is recommended long term for dogs who have had HGE. Probiotics may also be recommended once there is no longer any indication of ulceration in the gastrointestinal system.

How much does it cost to treat?

According to PetSure claims data from the 2020 calendar year, the average cost of a single treatment relating to Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis was $609. The highest cost for a single treatment was $8,200

Is it covered by pet insurance?

HGE may be covered by Comprehensive Accidental Injury and Illness pet insurance policies administered by PetSure (check our brand partners at petsure.com.au/partners), unless related to a pre-existing condition or exclusion. Please refer to your policy documents including Certificate of Insurance and Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for more information on whether this condition is covered under your policy. 

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

REFERENCES

  1. ScienceDirect_Haemorrhagic_Gastroenteritis 9th June 2021
  2. VIN_HGE 9th June 2021
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