Sepsis in Dogs

Blood sepsis, also known as septicemia, blood poisoning or septic fever, is a consequence of a long lasting infection that is not being treated. The bacteria enter the blood stream and the affects the entire system of the pet. The condition can be lead to a septic shock and can be fatal. However, if you notice the symptoms in time and the dog received treatment, he may be saved.

Causes of Sepsis in Canines

Sepsis develops if a dog is affected by an infection that is left untreated. The infection may originate in any area of the dog’s body (for example his ears, or even skin). Common infectious agents may include E. coli or staphylococci. The dog is more exposed to developing sepsis if he has low immunity or is already affected by a medical condition such as kidney disease or diabetes mellitus.

Typically, sepsis develops if the infection is not treated within 2 to 3 weeks and the immune system of the pet is not able to eliminate the infectious agents.

Symptoms of Sepsis in Dogs

When the bacteria enter the blood stream and affect the rest of the organs, the dog will display various symptoms, depending on what areas of the body are affected first. Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea often with blood and mucus in it, as, typically, the gastrointestinal tract is affected first
  • Breathing difficulties, if the lungs are affected
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart murmur
  • Elevated fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Pale gums
  • Shaking and chills
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression and hiding behavior
  • General state of weakness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

The disease may develop rapidly or at a slower pace, depending on how the pet is able to cope with the generalized infection. Immune mediated diseases may show similar symptoms, so it is necessary to have a few tests performed and eliminate other possible causes that lead to these symptoms.

Diagnosis of Septicemia

Septicemia can be diagnoses by performing a number of blood tests and a urine test. The vet may want to rule out any other diseases that could cause similar symptoms. The dog may develop internal abscesses, so the vet will choose to perform a few x-rays.

Treatment Options for Dogs with Septicemia

The treatment of septic fever should be aggressive, so that the dog can be saved. The dog will have to be hospitalized, as an outpatient treatment may not be sufficient and the dog needs to be monitored and the possible complications should be dealt with immediately. Septicemia is a severe condition and if not treated accordingly, it may cause death. The dog will have to get IV fluids, antimicrobials and antibiotics. Routine antibiotics may not suffice to eliminate the generalized infection, so specialized antibiotics should be used. The dog’s blood pressure will be more difficult to stabilize. An intravenous feeding tube is commonly used, as the dog may be too weak and lack appetite.