The cause of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs is unknown, but it may possibly involve bacterial poisons, an abnormal response ti bacteria or diet. It is possible that hyperactivity and stress are contributing factors. It can affect both sexes and any age of dog. However, young dogs and toy and miniature breeds seem to be predisposed to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. It is appears that King Charles Spaniels, Pekingese, Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers are more often affected than other breeds.
It is characterized by the sudden onset of a bloody diarrhea in an animal that appeared healthy. It is often seen in dogs between two to four, but can affect other ages. The symptoms include sudden bloody diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss, and depression. It is not contagious and can occur without any obvious changes to the diet, daily routine or environment. Most animals with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis respond to supportive treatment from the veterinarian. Supportive treatment includes antibiotics and fluid treatment.
If the animal does not receive fluid treatment it can go into shock. Animals who are not severely affected may be treated with antibiotics. The animal should not have access to food and water for two to three days, so as to ensure that the vomiting is controlled. After the vomiting has stopped, food can be re-introduced gradually. As food sensitivity may contribute to the condition, it is likely that the veterinarian will recommend a diet that the dog has not eaten before, such as rice mixed with tofu, cottage cheese or lamb. The new diet is fed for one or two weeks and then the regular diet can be slowly re-introduced. It is not common for there to be any serious complications, and most dogs recover. Less than ten per cent of treated dogs die from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Ten to fifteen per cent of treated dogs have repeated occurrences.