Vomiting and Diarrhoea

Vomiting and Diarrhoea (specifically Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis)

There are many reasons why dogs can show signs of vomiting and diarrhoea:

• A change of diet 

• They’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have i.e. a toxin/poison or a foreign body e.g. A corn on the cob, a sock or a dummy teat.

• There maybe an underlying health condition like organ failure.

• Worms 

• Stress/anxiety 

I wanted to write specifically about haemorrhagic gastroenteritis because I’ve seen such a rise in cases whilst I’ve been working at the vets. 

My dog, Peggy was poorly last week with HGE. Luckily she recovered without veterinary treatment. I was very close to taking her to work and I actually got as far as the car park but decided to give her one more day of monitoring at home and thankfully she perked up. 

With a new local lockdown and concerns of another country lockdown I thought this information might be helpful. I have seen first hand how tricky it can be to get a vet appointment.

What is HGE?

No one is completely sure what causes HGE yet, but specialists think it is likely to be a nasty bacteria that attacks and damages the lining of the guts.

Symptoms of HGE include:

Dogs with HGE often become poorly very quickly. They can look perfectly normal one day and extremely unwell the next. Fortunately, most dogs with HGE will make a full recovery a few days after treatment from a vet. Symptoms of HGE are very similar to symptoms of parvovirus.

Blood and gut lining in diarrhoea


A vet examination to asses hydration level, gum colour, and to feel the dogs tummy, temperature, pulse and respiration rate check. 

Treatment for HGE usually includes:

  • A drip to give lifesaving fluids
  • Anti-sickness medication
  • Small bland meals frequently throughout the day
  • Antibiotics – although they aren’t always needed
  • X-rays and / or blood tests for more information
  • Most dogs with HGE are put into an isolation kennel away from other dogs to help stop the spread of HGE to other vulnerable dogs in the hospital.


Fortunately, most dogs treated for HGE make a full recovery within a few days and usually show a big improvement within 24 hours of receiving veterinary treatment.

If your dog isn’t treated quickly, HGE can become a very serious condition and in some cases can cause death.

What can I do at home if my dog starts with Vomiting and Diarrhoea?

As long as your dog has been eating normally and not a puppy or very small breed, you should with hold food for 24 hours.

You should offer water and encourage your dog to drink little amounts but more frequently.  
If you let your dog drink too much at one sitting then they will likely vomit it all back. You could try to bring the water bowl closer to your dog and even try them with ice cubes. 

After you have withheld food for 24 hours you should offer a bland diet. 
Most vets have veterinary prescription diets specifically for upset tummy’s these are my first choice but if you can’t get hold of any then cooked chicken and boiled rice or scrambled eggs is the next best thing. 

You should feed them this diet for four/five days and don’t suddenly stop you need to slowly reintroduce your pets usual diet mixing it in with the bland diet.

Feed small amounts but more frequently to avoid over loading the stomach. 

You can assess your dogs hydration in two ways:

  1. Use your finger to touch the gum line, your finger shouldn’t stick to the gum it shouldn’t be tacky. 
  2. Skin tent this is when you lift up skin at the back of the neck it should go straight back to normal position. If it stays in place like a coat hanger then your pet is dehydrated. 

Monitor your pet, are they lethargic? Measure their water intake. 
When they toilet, assess what they pass.  

* Note if you are ever unsure it is always best to contact your vet for advice *

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