Sometimes I like to give information about cases that come into the office especially when there is something to be learned from them.
A little white West Highland White Terrier (Westie) came into the office on Thursday. It had been vomiting and had diarrhea for the past day and the little guy did not appear to be getting any better on its own.
Now normally diarrhea for a day in a dog is usually not a big deal, but coupled with vomiting it can be a sign of a serious disease. This case was no exception. The little Westie was still able to move around and wag its tail but you could see it was depressed and not as active as one of these little dogs should be.
I took a history and the little guy was current on vaccinations, had not tipped over the garbage can, the owners had not switched foods, and it had been on a good quality dog food (no recalls on this brand). Just started with some vomiting the night before and some diarrhea throughout the day and the dog was just looking worse as the day progressed.
Taking the dog’s temperature – normal but there was some blood on the thermometer. That was a tip off! This little guy was either suffering from the worst case of colitis I had seen or it had Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis (HGE) A blood tes would help me to diagnose HGE.
The Packed Cell Volume (PVC), which is a measurement of the solid part of blood measured 63. Normal should be between 35 and 55. Now of course the dog had been vomiting and had diarrhea so it could be just dehydration, but the Total Protein of the blood was in the normal range. If a dog is dehydrated the Total Protein would be elevated as well. I was confident I was dealing with HGE.
There is no known cause for HGE. It appears that it is an immune system response, but unknown why dogs all of a sudden come down with the disease. It is fatal if left untreated. It is usually found in adult dogs and usually smaller breeds like the Westie, but it can be found in any dog breed. Like this Akita that died last year – Ansel Young
The treatment is very simple. It is a matter of giving the dog IV fluids and letting the disease take its course. Most dogs are better within 24 to 48 hours after starting fluids. Other supportive care measures can be given such as meds to stop the vomiting along with antibiotics. But for the most part it is a matter of hospitalization and IV fluid therapy.
After the PCV returns to normal the dog can go home and be placed on a bland diet for a few days. This little guy did just that on Friday afternoon.
So if your dog is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, it is best to get him/her into your veterinarian right away, especially if there is blood in the stool. It may be as simple as a parasite infestation or even colitis but it can be as dangerous as Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis.
Thank you to Dog Breed Galleries for the pic of the Westie