"What's amazing about this condition is that these animals are normal one day and the next day they're extremely sick," said Michael Della Ripa, internist at MedVet Cincinnati.
Dogs with HGH can be saved as long as they get aggressive, immediate attention, beginning with intravenous fluids.
"It's important for dogs with any stomach illness to keep them hydrated," Hawkins said.
HGH is not contagious, but it's cause is unknown, according to veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby.
Some Facebook posters are wondering if there's a connection between P&G's pet food recall this week and local dog deaths and illnesses. P&G said some specific lots of Eukanuba and IAMS dry dog foods might be contaminated with salmonella, which can cause bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
"We've heard reports of that as well," Hawkins said. "We'll be able to tell better when we get the test results."
Voepel posted this message on The Pet Spot's Facebook page:
"In light of the recent stomach illnesses that we have experienced at The Pet Spot, the fact that a fourth dog has just been diagnosed with the illness, we have decided to close daycare from Friday August 16th through Monday August 19th. We plan to re-open on Tuesday August 20th once the treating veterinarians are able to get test results, identify this perplexing and currently unidentifiable illness, and we are able to ensure we have been able to take every possible precaution to ensure no more of our beloved pets could be put at risk.
"Our boarding and grooming services will continue to operate as usual. We are able to ensure that these dogs do not come in direct contact with each other and can take steps to ensure that, if this illness is contagious, they will not have the opportunity to pass the illness on. "