Acute Infectious Enteritis in Dogs

Enteritis is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by the sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea, rapid pulse, fever, apathy, and depression. The vomitus and diarrhea may contain blood. Dehydration occurs rapidly. Dogs under 1 year of age and those over 10 are particularly susceptible to the effects of dehydration and shock.

The most common cause of infectious enteritis in dogs is parvovirus. Salmonella, E. coli, camphylobacter, and other bacteria are also responsible for some cases.

The bacteria Clostridium perfringens produces canine hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. This disease begins suddenly with vomiting, followed in two to three hours by a profuse, bloody diarrhea. Small breeds, particularly Miniature Schnauzers and Toy Poodles, have a predisposition for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Garbage poisoning and ingesting poisons and toxic chemicals produces signs and symptoms similar to those of acute enteritis. When diarrhea and vomiting occur together, the dog's condition is serious and warrants an immediate trip to the veterinarian.

Treatment: This is directed toward prompt replacement of fluids and electrolytes. Intravenous fluids may be necessary. Antibiotics that are effective against the causative bacteria may be administered. Medications to control vomiting and/or diarrhea may also be needed.

This article is excerpted from “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.