Warning: HCG, Coccidiosis & Anesthetics



HGE in Dogs

Anytime anyone sees bloody diarrhea they should rush their little one to the vet immediately.

What does HGE stand for?
HGE (at least in terms of veterinary medicine) stands for Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis, and it is a disease of dogs. In human medicine, HGE commonly stands for Human Granulocytic Ehrlichia (HGE). Click here to learn more about the human HGE disease. The remainder of this Q & A is in reference to the dog version of HGE.

What are the signs seen with HGE in dogs?
The most notable sign seen with HGE is a very sudden onset of bloody diarrhea in a previously healthy dog. Vomiting, not eating (anorexia), and listlessness are also seen. Dehydration is not usually clinically seen on initial presentation, but shock can develop quickly without treatment.

What causes HGE?
At this time, the exact cause of this disease is unknown. There are many theories - diet, a bacterial infection or bacterial toxin, virus, reaction to an intestinal parasite, etc. - but nothing has been proven. Stress may play a role in the development of HGE. Dogs that have an episode of HGE may be prone to another occurrence. Many dogs never experience HGE.

What breeds/ages/gender of dog are more susceptible?
Toy and miniature breeds of dogs, ages 2 to 4, are the types of dogs most commonly seen, but HGE can affect any breed, gender, and age. There is no gender predilection (HGE occurs equally in males and females).

How is HGE diagnosed?
HGE is diagnosed primarily by ruling out other causes of bloody diarrhea. The sudden appearance of bloody diarrhea and a high packed cell volume (PCV) in a previously healthy dog rule in favor of the HGE diagnosis. Other causes of gastrointestinal bleeding that must be considered as possibilities and subsequently ruled out include:

a.. Gastrointestinal ulcers
b.. Colitis
c.. Parvovirus
d.. Coronavirus
e.. Campylobacter sp (bacteria)
f.. Salmonella sp (bacteria)
g.. Clostridium sp (bacteria)
h.. Escherichia coli (bacteria)
i.. Leptospirosis
j.. Whipworms
k.. Hookworms
l.. Coccidiosis
m.. Giardiasis
n.. Warfarin (rat poison) toxicity
o.. Thromobocytopenia (low platelets)
p.. Gastrointestinal cancer
q.. Hypoadrenocorticism

This sounds serious - is it a fatal disease?
Left untreated, this can be a deadly disease. However, with prompt veterinary care, most dogs respond to treatment and recover.

How is HGE treated?
The mainstay of treatment is aggressive supportive care -- no food or water by mouth for 1-4 days, and intravenous (IV) fluid therapy with Potassium added to the fluids. Antibiotics are also recommended (IV, subcutaneous). Food should be reintroduced slowly and, in the event that the HGE is food related, a new (novel) protein should be given that the dog doesn't usually eat, i.e. chicken, lamb or cottage cheese.

What is the success rate? Do dogs recover from this?
With aggressive supportive care, most dogs recover within a few days. Some dogs can have repeated episodes of HGE.

What should I do if I see vomiting or diarrhea in my pet? Is it an emergency?
This is a hard question to answer, because there are so many causes for vomiting and / or diarrhea. As for any situation that is "not normal" for your pet, it is always recommended that you call your veterinarian and discuss what is going on. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you if it is a situation that can wait or if it sounds like an emergency.


From Terri Shumsky's Book "How to Buy and Raise your Toy Dog"

What is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is a disease or condition that results after certain cells of the body have been invaded by a one cell parasite. Various coccidia cause disease in most mammals. It is a serious condition in cattle, sheep, goats, and rabbits. It is also present, but less serious, in swine, dogs, cats and a number of exotic or zoo animals. This disease is unimportant in horses. In general, coccidiosis is a disease of the intestinal tract. In rabbits, coccidiosis may affect the nasal, upper respriatory membranes and liver as well as the intestine.

For our interest, this will be limited to the consideration of the dog and to a lesser degree of the cat. Several species of coccidia occur in the small intestines of dogs and cats. The two primary families are Isospora and Eimeria. Several of these species are infective for both dogs and cats, and it is important that you can remember this when you want to institute a control program.

Coccidiosis is a parasite disease and the infection results from ingesting infected materials which contain oocysts. It is a one-cell living parasite which invades the intestinal walls and it divides and grows eventually damaging intestal cells and inflaming the gut resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, loose stools, loss of blood and eventually loss of weight. It is not uncommon that fecal (stool) examination is not found on a first examination of the stool. Sometimes you have to take several stool samples and they must be examined immediately in order to find the infective parasite.

This disease can be picked up anywhere at any time on the pads of the feet and as the dog licks it's feet, it can be ingested and the process of the disease begins.

How Does Coccidiosis Affect The Patient?

Fundamentally, Coccidiosis is a disease of young dogs and cats. The clinical disease may vary from mild diarrhea to severe infections causing bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness or weight loss. Severe outbreaks are the exception. The course of the disease may vary from a few days to ten days. Coccidiosis is seldom fatal, except where it is complicated with some other infectious or parasitic disease.

How Widespread Is Coccidiosis?

Healthy, mature animals may act as sources of infection for young, susceptible puppies. It's like a social disease because it occurs wherever there are congregations of young animals...dog shows, handling classes, parks...anywhere dogs and people congregate. Poor sanitation and stress, moving to a new environment, may trigger an explosion of the Coccidia that are already in the body in a non-diseased state. It can be spread from an infected animal to any breeder or pet owner's dog walking in the park or at a show.

What To Do About Coccidiosis?

Work out a sanitation program to eliminate reinfection. This is a microscopic parasite. You cannot see them with the naked eye. Sterilization and ultra sanitation of pens, feeding utensils is necessary to stop the perpetuation of this disease in a kennel situation. Scrub regularly with a good detergent that contains a non-staining iodine and disinfectant and allow to dry.

A drug called Albon is an effective Coccidiostat, which enables you to to interrupt the disease. This drug is available from your Veterinarian and is usually given for three to five days.

This disease can be controlled with good management, strict sanitation and a pinch of preventative medication.


By Terri Shumsky

Buttons was almost 10 months old when his owner took him to their vet, a good family friend for many years. Though she received all the normal "warnings" about barbituate overdosing on toy dogs, she felt a great confidence in her Vet that she had for all these years.

He gave a pre-anesthetic tranquizer for intubating which is normal, but then he gave the little 3 pd dog PENTABARB and the little dog went to sleep forever NEEDLESSLY. Look at this little face, and weep with us for something that did NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN. If your vet will not use Isoflurane or gas anesthesia (because it is expensive).... FIND ANOTHER VET THAT WILL.

Here's some of the comments from veterinarians who have heard of this mishap.

"I can't believe that anyone is still using PENTABARB.... that is only used for severe seizures that NOTHING else will control....a last resort"

"This is unheard of in todays veterinary medicine. This vet is DECADES behind"

This was a fine and healthy, chubby little Yorkshire Terrier, full of mischief and not at all sickly in any way. An autopsy showed no reason that this dog should have expired other than an overdose. Even the Vet, who is a family friend, feels very badly about this "overdose".


If you are all shocked and moved by this tragedy, please spread the word and Buttons will not have died in vain.

Thank you
Terri Shumsky

Pee WeeI too had an experience with anesthetics. My mother got one of our Yorkies (Pee Wee) neutered. The vet (a family friend) gave him too much anesthetia and he ended up having a problem with seizures and became a very SLOW thinking animal. He was the most loveable animal of the five, and was always warm-hearted. He loved me more than anything, and only SAW me in his eyes. The only thing he would leave my side for was food (but can you blame him). Anyhow, he had seizures 2 - 3 times a month and we put him on phenobarbital. These slowed his seizures to 1 - 2 a year, but we knew it would take his toll on his liver - which it did. We were told he would only live 3 - 4 years, but he made it until 7.

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