HGE in Dogs: Causes, Treatment, and Costs

Four minutes
Mar 26, 2024

Vomiting and diarrhea in dogs are common concerns for pet parents. When your dog has an upset stomach, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause. You may be wondering, did they eat something bad, do they have a food allergy, or is it an intestinal parasite?

One potential culprit you may be less familiar with is hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). This intestinal condition can strike suddenly and cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and other symptoms in your dog.

Read on to learn more about HGE and how to help your dog if they’re diagnosed with the disease.

What Is HGE in Dogs?

HGE is a form of gastroenteritis — inflammation of the stomach and intestines — characterized by an abrupt onset of bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The diarrhea of dogs with HGE is often described as resembling raspberry jam or jelly.1 This condition can strike seemingly out of nowhere in dogs who are generally healthy otherwise.2

Any dog breed can have HGE, but small or toy breeds tend to be more susceptible. Some commonly affected breeds include Yorkshire terriers, miniature schnauzers, young miniature poodles, dachshunds, bichon frisés, poodles, and cavalier King Charles spaniels.2

Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome (AHDS)

Your veterinarian may refer to HGE as acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome or AHDS. This is an alternative term for the same condition.2

What Causes HGE in Dogs?

The root cause of HGE in dogs remains unknown. However, bacterial hypersensitivity or infection, dietary indiscretions, stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, and toxins are all believed to be possible contributing factors.1,2

Additionally, other potential causes of HGE include:1,2

  • Immune-mediated disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Injuries
  • Gastrointestinal tumors or blockages
  • Infectious diseases (like canine parvovirus infection)
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Intestinal parasites or bacteria
  • Allergic reactions (food or inhaled)

What Are the Symptoms of HGE in Dogs?

A dog with HGE might display the following symptoms:1,2

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite

When in Doubt, Get Your Dog Checked Out     

Pet Insurance Can Help

How Is HGE Diagnosed?

If your dog exhibits any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you may want to take them to the vet for further evaluation. Diagnosing HGE in dogs involves a process of elimination, as there isn’t a single, definitive way to identify the condition. Vets may utilize a combination of diagnostic tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), urine examination, X-ray, blood clotting assessment, fecal analysis, and ultrasound.2

Dogs with HGE often have more red blood cells than usual, measured by their packed cell volume (PCV) or hematocrit (HCT). Normal HCT levels are typically between 37% and 55%, but a dog with HGE can have levels higher than 60%.2

How Do You Treat HGE?

Treatment for HGE will typically involve intravenous (IV) fluid therapy with potassium and electrolyte supplementation. This is done to rehydrate the dog and address any electrolyte imbalances. HGE can cause severe dehydration, which in turn can elevate blood count levels. Antibiotics will also often be given to help treat intestinal infections.2

Additional treatments for HGE may include:2

●      Anti-nausea medication

●      Gastrointestinal protectants

●      Plasma transfusions

●      Probiotics

●      Pain medication

How long does HGE last in dogs?

If treated promptly, symptoms of HGE typically last 2 – 4 days.3 Most dogs make a full recovery and even show improvement within 24 hours of receiving veterinary treatment. However, without timely care, HGE can worsen and, in some cases, may result in death.3

Is HGE contagious?

HGE isn’t considered contagious between dogs.1

Can HGE Be Prevented?

Since the cause is still unknown, there’s no definitive method to prevent HGE. That said, some practical tips you can implement at home include feeding your dog good quality dog food, adhering to your vet’s advice on parasite prevention, and fostering a stress-free environment for your dog.2

How Pet Insurance Can Help You Treat Your Dog’s HGE

Protecting our canine companions is a pet parent’s number one priority. So when it comes to addressing health concerns, like HGE, it’s crucial to be prepared for the costs of treatment. HGE treatment expenses can range from $500 – $1,500, or more.4 Luckily, pet insurance can provide financial support if your dog is diagnosed with HGE.

A MetLife Pet policy helped the pet parents of Doug, a husky from Florida, save nearly 65% after he was hospitalized for gastroenteritis.5 Learn how MetLife Pet Insurance can save you money and help keep your pet healthy. Fetch your quote today!

We Can Help Cover Vet Bills While You Focus on Your Dog’s Care

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome in Dogs,” Merck Veterniary Manual,

2 “Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome in Dogs (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis),” VCA Animal Hospitals,

3 “Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs,” PDSA,

4 “Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) in Dogs,” Great Pet Care, 2024

5 All claims paid amounts are based on MetLife internal claims data from October 2022. Story altered for illustrative purposes.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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