Canine hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a serious and potentially lethal disease syndrome frequently seen in veterinary practice. A prospective, double-blind study was designed to evaluate, on the basis of clinical and laboratory findings, which of three therapy methods provides the best therapeutic results. Major aim of the study was to determine whether use of antibiotics is indicated and necessary, whether oral administration of charcoal (Eucarvet®) has positive influence and whether a sole fluid therapy has any significance in the treatment of HGE.
70 dogs, irrespective of breed, age, sex or origin, older than 8 months, regularly vaccinated and without prior treatment, were randomised and assigned to one of three groups. All of them received fluid therapy and accompanying measures. Additionally, dogs of the first group were given antibiotics (Amoxicillin/Clavulanic acid and Metronidazol), dogs of the second group were treated with charcoal (Eucarvet®) whereas dogs of the third group obtained placebo.
It could be shown that the dogs suffering from HGE represent a wide range of breeds and that apart from mixed miniature and toy breeds (71,4 %), large dogs (14,3 %) were also affected. Age or sex were found to be of no significance. At the peracute onset lack of appetite, depression, bloody diarrhoea with a characteristic fetid odour (27,1 %) and vomiting (60 %) were distinctive; in most dogs (71,2 %) vomiting preceded diarrhoea. HGE appears to occur more frequently during humid and cold weather conditions: in 89,9 % of the cases there was rain, snow or both and the temperature ranged from -8 to 13 °C. At first presentation dogs scarcely showed any clinical alterations. The mean hospitalisation of all dogs was 3,5 days with an average of 6,4 days to complete the cure.
Within the healing process dogs treated with charcoal suffered longer from diarrhoea. Most commonly Escherichia coli (38,1 %) and Clostridium perfringens (57,1 %) were isolated from fecal specimens. Bacterial blood cultures were positive only twice: once for ß-hemolytic Streptococcus and once for Staphylococcus intermedius. At the parasitological fecal examinations Toxascaris leonina, Trichuris vulpis and Giardia spp. were each detected once. Three dogs died suddenly within the first 24 hours, pathological findings were confined to acute shock. There was no indication of bacteremia, endotoxemia or sepsis at any of the 70 dogs.
Due to the fact that hospitalisation and recovery period were nearly equal in all three groups it can be concluded that fluid therapy, which was used in all therapy groups, is the most important measure in treating HGE, i.e. that administration of antibiotics and/or charcoal has little or no influence on the successful treatment of HGE.