Dog's diarrhea

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs – our story

I’ve written a lot about Clostridium perfringens bacteria, not without reason because I suppose we met personally in August last year when my second dog named Ginger fell suddenly ill.

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs is still a disease of unknown cause although the role of Clostrudium perfringens is highlighted in its etiology. But as dogs are natural carriers to that bacteria it is not clear what activates that microbe, giving its pathogenic potential.

There were some researches done mainly in US where scientists looked for some common factor for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis occurrence. In search of potential contamination ,soil and water were inspected, food was examined too, dogs were tested for viruses, bacteria and parasites, overall features like-age, sex and health (allergies included ) were taken into account and nothing was found. No solid explanation apart from the weather – a slightly higher incidence of the disease was reported in spring and autumn which may suggest a connection with rainfalls and wet soil. The second factor observed was stress.

Do not make Clostridium nervous…

On Saturday, two days before the disease struck I went out with my first dog Blacky, leaving Ginger home (not alone in fact as there were other family members present) – but it was enough to make her almost furious. She is a small and overreacting dog and sometimes she can present really hysterical affections. And it had been raining for 2 days that time.

The early signs of illness appeared on Monday afternoon when Ginger started to vomit after a meal. I suspected a case of mild indigestion and made some herbal tea from my favorite “liver” herbs – agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) and St.John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) adding a pinch of mint (Mentha piperita).

It didn’t work. Ginger was vomiting constantly. When there was no food left in her stomach, she vomited with mucous and then just retched without being able to bring up anything. Late evening we went out for a walk – Ginger in spite of that hard ordeal seemed to be in quite a good shape. She did normal poo – no signs of diarrhea.

It came 2 hours later, at midnight (still it was brown stool without blood) .

Ginger tried to get some sleep but I watched over her trying to give her a sip of herbal tea every now and then. At 4 in the morning, she started vomiting again. Vomited fluid looked like mucous and was slightly red. But in a minute she threw up a huge amount of blood. The scent of blood in a small room was really overwhelming.

Frightened, I reached for my tinctures, choosing the strongly anti-inflammatory one (made on popular tree buds) dilute it with a tiny amount of water and put few drops under Ginger’s tongue.

At the same time, I made another tea using cinquefoil leaf ( Potentilla Erecta ) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Ginger could take only a few drops of infusion per single application, as any liquid (even pure water) made her vomiting worse. So I was giving her just a few drops of herbal tea every 15-20 min all the time. At 6 in the morning, bloody diarrhea appeared. They were right, it looked exactly like “raspberry jam “. The whole ocean of bloody jam.

( *medically – vomiting with blood and bloody diarrhea are called respectively: hematemesis and hematochezia)

Almost sure that my little dog was dying, I was the first patient at the vet office  on that day. Ginger had bloodwork done (all right apart from an elevated hematocrit level – this higher parameter pointed to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis). She received some anti-inflammatory and antiemetic drugs, an X-ray imaging was done ( in case of something stuck in the intestines) and we were sent home. I took a day off from work to look after her.

In spite of strong antiemetic drugs she got, a strong retching reflex w still present, preventing her from drinking.I made another multi-herbal tea adding a little bit of a bistort root, one of the strongest herbal astringents (Latin name of this herb is Polygonum bistorta or Persicaria bistorta) and with a syringe, every 30 minutes for 6 hours I was giving her as little as 1 milliliters (20 drops) of  infusion. That was all she could drink without vomiting. But diarrhea slowed down. In the afternoon we went to the vet office asking for intravenous fluid therapy – I was afraid of dehydration. At last, we were home again and suddenly…. I could hear my Ginger burping loudly!!! 24 hours after the occurrence of the first symptoms of the disease, she belched!

It meant that gastrointestinal tract started to work and so it did.

Vomiting and diarrheas stopped entirely. Nevertheless, on the following day, I still continued herbal tea therapy (choosing some soothing herbs) given in larger intervals (every hour or so) but still in small amounts. I also made her drink more water applying it straight to the mouth with a syringe. Ginger was getting better so fast that in the afternoon she wanted to eat. But because of her sore little belly, I could offer only 3 tablespoons of overcooked millet. Still, hunger was a good sign. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis can leave your dog with even chronic damage to its intestinal mucosa making recovery process from the illness far longer. I knew that our deadly battle was won.

Summary

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a serious illness almost for sure of bacterial (Clostridium perfringens ) background. It can progress rapidly and end with sepsis and sudden death. There is no medical treatment targeted exactly at hemorrhagic enteritis available, which means medicine can only affect symptoms of the disease not its cause.

Quick action when Colstridium perfringens strikes is essential. In 2017, Swiss scientists carried out an interesting experiment proving acute blood platelet damage after 5 minutes of contact even with a small amount of Clostridium perfringens toxins. That quickly leads to tissue hemorrhage.

So I think that any help should be considered seriously. Herbs can stop or slow down Clostridium perfringens bacteria, at least supporting the body ability to repair itself. They can also heal if used properly.

Handy herbal first aid kit

Antidiarrheal, astringent herbs : Cinquefoil leaf or root ( Potentilla erecta), Raspberry leaf ( wild and with black fruits like Rubus caesius), Oak bark (Quercus)

Anti-haemorrhagic, astringent, anti-microbial herbs : Yarrow leaf and flower (Achillea millefolium), Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium -contains berberine which is proved to be effective against Clostridum perfringens ), Great Burnet root (Sanguisorba officinalis), Bistort root (Persicaria bistorta)

anti-microbial herbs : Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis), Bee Balm(Monarda), Sage (Salvia officinalis)

carminative, antispastic and soothing herbs :Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) , mint (Mentha ×piperita), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

demulcent and soothing herbs : Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), Slippery elm bark (Ulmus)

Use these herbs in teas only and remember that especially roots and bark are rich in tannins, overdosed tannins can irritate gastrointestinal tract and kidneys – use cautiously! It can also happen that your dog is allergic to some herb ( e.g to salicylates ) so the best thing would be to make an “allergic”  try before the dog gets ill.

To make a cup of tea (200 ml) you can use approximately 1 level teaspoon of dried herbs. It can be less or it can be a little more – it depends on your dog’s weight and its individual tolerance. Just use common sense. Roots and bark are more effective as a decoction not infusion, take slightly less then 1 teaspoon of raw material per 200 ml of water, simmer slowly.Apply teas  in drops, teaspoons and tablespoons according to dog’s weight. A good rule of thumb with herbs is: rather less but more often.

ATTENTION: do not try to stop diarrhea by all means! It can be very dangerous. Do not use loperamide! Be careful with herbs like St.John’s Wort, Salvia, Yarrow in case of sulfonamides being given at the same time ( try to find a holistic vet if possible).

Gentle-acting herbs offer powerful support in hemorrhagic enteritis.Use them wisely, not instead of conventional medicine but with it. It is called complementary medicine.


Bibliography

1Van Asten AJ, Nikolaou GN, Gröne A. The occurrence of cpb2-toxigenic Clostridium perfringens and the possible role of the beta2-toxin in enteric disease of domestic animals, wild animals and humans. Vet J. 2010 Feb;183(2):135-40

Accessed on 22.05.2018 at : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19101180

2Ben J. Schlegel, Tony Van Dreumel, Durda Slavić, and John F. Prescott .Clostridium perfringens type A fatal acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis in a dog. Can Vet J. 2012 May; 53(5): 555–557.

Accessed on 22.05.2018 at : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3327598/

3https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/12_7/features/Hemorrhagic-Gastroenteritis-in-Dogs_16136-1.html

4 Jung-Whan Chon, Kun-Ho Seo, Dongryeoul Bae, Ji-Hee Park, Saeed Khan, Kidon Sung,

Prevalence, toxin gene profile, antibiotic resistance, and molecular characterization of Clostridium perfringens from diarrheic and non-diarrheic dogs in South Korea

Accessed on 22.05.2018 at : www.vetsci.org/journal/download_pdf.php?uid=1444

5Anne Thiel , Helga Mogel , Julia Bruggisser , Arnaud Baumann , Marianne Wyder , Michael H. Stoffel , Artur Summerfield . Effect of Clostridium perfringens β-Toxin on Platelets .Toxins 2017, 9(10), 336

Accessed on 22.05.2018 pod at: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/9/10/336/htm

Batgi H, Akbal E, Koçak E, Akyürek Ö, Köklü S, Dönmez M, Güneş F. Treatment of hemorrhagic gastritis by Ankaferd blood stopper versus Omeprazole: experimental randomized rat models. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2016 Dec

Accessed on 22.05.2018 at : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25860852

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