Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis: HGE in Dogs

Learn the signs, diagnosis, and treatment of HGE in dogs.

HGE is a condition during which a dog suddenly gets severe diarrhea with blood in it. Additionally, the dog may vomit and become severely dehydrated and dangerously ill from hypovolemic shock very quickly.

What Causes HGE in Dogs?

HGE is not just any case of bloody diarrhea in dogs. There are many causes of diarrhea with blood that aren't HGE.

It isn't known exactly what causes HGE in dogs. Something causes the lining (mucosa) of the intestinal tract to break down, allowing blood, fluid, and electrolytes into the intestines fast.

Some possible causes include that it is immune-mediated or that some infection triggers it.

HGE can occur in any dog and is usually seen in dogs that were healthy before the onset of the condition. It is more common in dogs over four years of age than in younger dogs.

Signs of HGE in Dogs

Dogs with HGE can show some or all of the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Absent appetite
  • Severe bloody diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Painful abdomen

Signs of the condition begin and progress rapidly, usually resulting in hypovolemic shock within 12 hours.

Diagnosis of HGE in Dogs

Veterinarians may run a parvovirus test to rule out that condition. They will likely look for intestinal parasites on a fecal sample. A coagulation profile may be done to determine whether the bloody diarrhea is due to a blood clotting disorder. X-rays of the abdomen show fluid-filled intestines. The condition is usually diagnosed by looking at the history and physical signs and through ruling out other causes of bloody diarrhea.

Treatment of HGE in Dogs

Dogs with HGE generally need to be hospitalized for aggressive treatment. They are put on IV fluids and given electrolytes. They are not fed anything initially and then are fed a bland, low-fat, low-fiber diet for a few days.

Antibiotics are given because of the high risk of septicemia from gut bacteria traveling through the dysfunctional intestinal lining into the system.

Dogs in shock may need glucocorticoid treatment, and blood transfusion is sometimes necessary.

During and after treatment, close monitoring is required until the dog is clinically normal.

Some dogs develop DIC secondary to HGE, which is life-threatening, but overall, the prognosis for the condition is usually good with aggressive treatment.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Parvo: What You Need to Know About Parvovirus in Dogs

A New Dog Bowel Obstruction Risk You Need to Know About

Megaesophagus in Dogs

Dog Diarrhea

Hypovolemic Shock in Dogs

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.