Old disease with a new and improved name. Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome or AHDS is a new name for something that vets and owners may know as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis.
What is AHDS in dogs?
This syndrome is presented with bloody diarrhea and bloody vomiting in dogs, which means that it severely affects the gastrointestinal tract. Those symptoms could also be seen in other conditions, such as parvovirus infection, pancreatitis, or IBD which stands for inflammatory bowel disease. However, when veterinary professionals mention AHDS, they usually mean a condition of its own, which is not related to the ones given above.
This syndrome affects different breeds of dogs, but it can be commonly seen in small or toy breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers, or Miniature Poodles. The disease also affects both genders and is not connected to age, which means that it can be found in both young and senior dogs.
Causes for AHDS in dogs
The exact mechanism of AHDS development in dogs is still not clear but it is considered that infection with the bacteria Clostridium perfringens type A could be the trigger for this condition.
This bacteria is known to produce specific toxins which lead to ulcer formation on the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Because of that the dog loses a lot of fluid and the rupture of the ulcers means that the dog bleeds as well.
However, there are other possibilities that could lead to this syndrome:
- foreign body
- gastrointestinal tumors
- parvovirus infection
- the previous existence of stomach ulcers
Symptoms of Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome in dogs
The name of the condition pretty much describes what the owners see and report to their vet:
- bloody diarrhea
- bloody vomit
- decreased appetite
Owners should be aware that this syndrome could be potentially life-threatening which is why they need to rush their dog to the vet as soon as they see blood in the vomit or diarrhea.
How is AHDS in dogs diagnosed?
There are no specific tests for this condition. However good clinical examination and the information from the owner usually give the vet a good head start. The first thing that is always done is drawing out blood for PCV and biochemistry.
PCV or packed cell volume basically shows the percentage of red blood cells versus the total blood volume. In dogs with AHDS, this percentage is relatively high, which means that the dog is severely dehydrated, as a result of the diarrhea.
Other tests include ultrasound examination, X-rays, and sometimes when it is needed coagulation tests and endoscopic examination. Also, the vets would probably try to exclude other differential diagnoses such as parvovirus, foreign body, or pancreatitis.
Treatment of dogs with AHDS
Because dogs with AHDS are severely dehydrated, that is the first thing that the vet will do – aggressive fluid therapy. After that, they would probably administer drugs that could stop the bleeding, and if the patient is severely anemic, they may receive some blood transfusions as well.
Antibiotics are not usually used in the first treatment, but many vets may opt to use them in order to prevent secondary bacterial infection. The dog will also receive drugs to manage the pain as well as anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs.
This is a serious condition, which means that the owner should expect their dog to be hospitalized for at least one day, if not even more.
When they are discharged they may be prescribed some special diet for the current time as well as probiotics to take at home. Dogs that are treated fairly quickly usually have good outcomes. But owners should be aware that this syndrome could recur.
There are no recommendations on how to prevent this from ever happening because the reason for happening is unknown. But the owner should surely have to feed their dog high-quality food, do regular vaccination and deworm their dog on time.
Dog owners could be charged up to $2000 to treat a dog with AHDS, depending on how long the dog may be hospitalized.