Gastro Enteritis (GE)


Gastroenteritis is one of the most common complaints I see in my clinic.  Generally you will notice your dog becomes a bit depressed and may start vomiting or have a very soft or water stool.

There are many causes of sudden vomiting and diarrhoea. although  most of these cases respond very well to symptomatic therapy, some causes of acute vomiting and diarrhoea can be life threatening, and initially, may be difficult to differentiate from less harmful problems.

Food causes includes eating spoiled food, over eating, ingesting foreign material and sudden dietary changes.

Dietary allergy is caused by the bodies immune system overreacting to a specific  protein or certain food additives.

There are many infectious agents that can cause acute vomiting and diarrhoea and the most common of these that we see in HK is Parvo virus and Giardia.

Drugs and toxins can cause vomiting and diarrhoea by directly irritating the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Examples include anti-inflammatory agents and some antibiotics. Insecticide toxins like cockroach bait and heavy metals contained in batteries.

Gastrointestinal obstruction/blockage is particularly life threatening. Most commonly caused by your dog eating something that cannot be digested and blocks the stomach or small intestine. some of these objects can very difficult to diagnose and are not readily seen on an X-ray. Organic substances like corn cob and durian seeds are a good example. Large breeds of dogs are also prone to having a twisted stomach. These situations will require emergency surgery

Diseases of the abdominal organs, like liver, kidney, uterus, prostate, pancreas and bladder can also cause your dog to show GE symptoms

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is when your dogs intestine and immune system becomes over reactive to certain proteins in the food.

Stress can cause a combination of acute vomiting and diarrhoea.

Lymphoma of the intestine is occasionally suspected and can only be diagnosed by taking a biopsy of the intestine to differentiate this condition from inflammatory bowel disease.

Diagnosis:
We will do a full body exam. Sometimes we can feel a foreign body in the intestine with our hands. Also we will be able to tell how dehydrated your pet is and what degree of severity the situation is by a general clinical exam. We may recommend any of the following tests or procedures to give us a better picture of the underlying cause: blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound, fibre optic examination of the stomach or colon, intestinal biopsy, fecal sample examination and exploratory laparotomy(surgical investigation)

Treatment:
Generally most causes of GE are treated symptomatically by resting the stomach and rehydration. You may be given meds to protect the lining of the intestine and control the acid secretions of the stomach. We will also give injections to stop the vomiting and reduce the intestinal inflammation. Some cases respond well to a course of antibiotics and if necessary, surgery is the only other option. Your dog may need to go onto a special diet.