How to Treat Sepsis in Dogs – Expert Tips

As a dog owner, it can be heartbreaking to see your furry friend suffer from any illness, especially severe infections like sepsis. Sepsis, also known as septic shock or bacteremia, is a temporary infection that occurs when bacteria or other harmful microorganisms enter the bloodstream. This condition can affect dogs of all ages and breeds, but older dogs and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. Global Rescue

If left untreated, sepsis can lead to septic shock, which can be life-threatening for pets. As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of sepsis in dogs, such as fever, breathing difficulties, pain, changes in behavior, and serious infections. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing complications from severe infections and blood poisoning caused by a bacterial blood infection. America Humane Society

Understanding the history and findings of your pet’s condition, such as serious infections or bacterial blood infections, is an important aspect of treating sepsis, a bacterial infection. Treatment may involve interventions such as feeding tubes or medications to manage the inflammatory response in pets. We will also cover how to treat septic shock in dogs with sepsis. Humane Society International

As a pet owner, it’s essential to educate yourself about potential health issues that may affect your furry friend, including sepsis in dogs. Sepsis, also known as septic shock or bacterial blood infection, is a serious condition that can occur in animals. Understanding and treating sepsis in dogs is crucial to their well-being.

Causes and Prevention of Canine Sepsis

What is Canine Sepsis?

Canine sepsis, also known as septic shock, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection, leading to organ failure and even death if not treated promptly. Dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to developing sepsis. Pet owners should be aware of the symptoms, such as bacteremia, to seek immediate veterinary care.

Negative Sepsis

Negative sepsis, also known as septic shock, occurs when the immune system’s response to an infection caused by bacteria causes more harm than good. Instead of fighting off the infection, the immune system begins attacking healthy cells and tissues in the body, leading to widespread inflammation and damage. This can result in symptoms such as bacteremia, where bacteria enter the bloodstream.

Infections that Cause Canine Sepsis

Infections that enter the bloodstream can cause sepsis and septic shock in dogs. Common sources of these infections include wounds, surgical sites, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and dental disease. The bacteria or other microorganisms causing these infections release toxins into the bloodstream that trigger a systemic inflammatory response. Pet owners should be aware of the symptoms of sepsis and bacteremia in their dogs.

Preventing Canine Sepsis

Preventing infections is key to preventing canine sepsis and septic shock. Keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations can help prevent many infectious diseases caused by bacteria. Regular veterinary check-ups can also catch any potential health issues and symptoms before they become serious infections or lead to septic shock.

Promptly treating any infections your dog does develop is also crucial in preventing sepsis and septic shock from developing. If your dog has a wound or injury, keep it clean and monitor it closely for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If your dog shows signs of illness, such as lethargy or loss of appetite, seek veterinary care right away to use antibiotics and prevent the spread of bacteria.

In addition to these preventative measures, maintaining good overall health for your dog can also help reduce their risk of developing sepsis caused by bacteria. This includes providing a balanced diet, regular exercise, and keeping up with dental care to keep bacteria at bay.

Symptoms of Canine Sepsis: Weakness, Shaking, Confusion

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can affect dogs just as it does humans. It occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection caused by bacteria, causing inflammation and damage to organs and tissues. While sepsis is a severe condition, recognizing its symptoms early on can help prevent complications and even save your dog’s life.

General Symptoms of Canine Sepsis

The signs of sepsis in dogs can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the bacterial infection. However, some general symptoms are common among most cases of sepsis in dogs. These include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or weakness, and decreased appetite.

When your dog has sepsis, you may notice that they appear sick or unwell due to bacteria. They may also have difficulty standing or walking due to weakness or pain in their joints caused by bacteria. You may observe changes in their behavior, such as confusion or disorientation caused by bacteria.

Early Stage Symptoms of Canine Sepsis

In the early stages of sepsis in dogs, clinical signs may include hypotension (low blood pressure) and difficulty breathing due to bacteria. Your dog may also experience rapid heart rate and shallow breathing due to reduced oxygen supply to vital organs caused by bacteria.

As sepsis, caused by bacteria, progresses, your dog’s body will try to compensate for the lack of oxygen by increasing its breathing rate and heart rate further. You may notice that your dog is panting excessively or gasping for air, even when at rest.

Late Stage Symptoms of Canine Sepsis

Late-stage symptoms of canine sepsis are more severe than those observed during the early stages. Organ failure is one of the most common complications seen with late-stage sepsis in dogs. This means that one or more organs, such as the liver or kidneys, have stopped functioning correctly due to inflammation caused by the infection.

Another late-stage symptom of canine sepsis is shocked. Shock occurs when the body’s organs and tissues do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients due to reduced blood flow. This can cause your dog’s blood pressure to drop dramatically, leading to life-threatening complications such as heart failure or respiratory arrest.

Severe Forms of Canine Sepsis

Severe forms of canine sepsis can lead to adrenal insufficiency and organ dysfunction. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands, which produce hormones that help regulate the body’s response to stress, become damaged or stop functioning correctly. This can cause a range of symptoms, such as weakness, dehydration, and low blood sugar levels for dog owners.

Organ dysfunction is another severe complication seen with sepsis in dogs. It occurs when one or more organs stop working correctly due to inflammation caused by the infection. If left untreated, organ dysfunction can lead to permanent damage or even death.

Diagnostic Tests for Sepsis in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are crucial to determine the severity of the condition. Veterinarians use a combination of physical examinations and laboratory tests to diagnose sepsis in dogs accurately.

Blood Samples: Checking for Coagulation Abnormalities, White Blood Cell Count, and Tissue Perfusion

One of the most important diagnostic tests used by veterinarians is blood sampling. The veterinarian will take a blood sample from your dog to check for coagulation abnormalities, white blood cell count, and tissue perfusion. These parameters help determine if your dog is suffering from severe sepsis or not.

Coagulation abnormalities, including negative sepsis, occur when there is an imbalance between clotting factors and anticoagulants in the bloodstream. This can result in excessive bleeding or clotting that can be life-threatening for your dog. A high white blood cell count indicates that your dog’s immune system is trying to fight off an infection. Tissue perfusion refers to how well-oxygenated blood is being delivered to organs and tissues throughout the body.

Additional Tests: Blood Cultures and Complete Blood Count

In addition to blood samples, veterinarians may also perform additional tests such as blood cultures and complete blood counts (CBC). These tests can help determine the severity of sepsis in dogs.

Blood cultures are used to identify specific bacteria causing the infection, including negative sepsis. This information helps veterinarians choose appropriate antibiotics for treatment. Complete blood counts provide detailed information about red and white blood cells, including those present in your dog’s bloodstream.

Test Results: Interpreting Test Results

Once all necessary diagnostic tests have been performed on your dog, it’s time for a veterinarian to interpret test results carefully. They will consider all results together with clinical signs exhibited by your dog to determine the severity of sepsis.

If your dog has severe sepsis, it is essential to monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, urine output, and oxygen saturation. This information helps veterinarians determine if treatment is working correctly.

We are identifying and Treating Underlying Causes of Canine Sepsis: Dental Issues, Infections, etc.

Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for effective treatment. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. While any type of infection can lead to sepsis, some underlying conditions increase a dog’s risk of developing this condition.

Dental Issues

Dental issues are one of the most common underlying causes of sepsis in dogs. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and teeth. If left untreated, this condition can spread to other parts of the body, including vital organs like the heart and liver. Regular dental cleaning can help prevent periodontal disease and reduce your dog’s risk of developing sepsis.


Infections are another common source of canine sepsis. Any wound or injury that breaks through your dog’s skin can allow bacteria to enter its bloodstream and cause an infection. Some infections that commonly lead to sepsis include urinary tract infections (UTIs), respiratory infections, and skin infections.

If you suspect your dog has an infection, it’s essential to seek veterinary care right away. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection before it progresses into sepsis.

Illnesses in GI Tract

Illnesses in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can also increase your dog’s risk of developing sepsis. The GI tract includes all parts of your dog’s digestive system, from their mouth to their anus. Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or pancreatitis can cause inflammation in your dog’s GI tract, making it easier for bacteria to enter their bloodstream.

If your vet suspects an illness in your dog’s GI tract is causing their sepsis, they will likely recommend diagnostic tests like bloodwork, x-rays, or ultrasounds. Treatment for GI tract illnesses will depend on the specific condition your dog is diagnosed with.

Treating the Root Cause

Treating the root cause of sepsis is essential to prevent it from entering the bloodstream. If your dog has a wound or injury that’s causing sepsis, your vet may need to clean and dress the wound to prevent further infection. In some cases, they may also need to perform surgery to remove any infected tissue.

If an underlying condition like periodontal disease or IBD is causing your dog’s sepsis, treating that condition will be critical for a full recovery. Your vet may prescribe medication or recommend dietary changes to manage these conditions and reduce your dog’s risk of developing sepsis in the future.

Treatment Options for Canine Sepsis: Medical and Surgical Procedures

Medical Treatment Options

Veterinary medicine may involve the use of medications and hospitalization to treat negative sepsis. The goal is to stabilize the dog’s condition and prevent further damage to vital organs caused by negative sepsis. The veterinarian will usually prescribe antibiotics that target the specific bacteria causing the infection in negative sepsis. Intravenous fluids are administered to maintain hydration levels and support blood pressure in cases of negative sepsis.

To provide nutrition and medication while mucous membranes are monitored for signs of improvement, nasogastric tubes may be used. This procedure involves inserting a tube through the nose into the stomach, allowing food and medication to bypass an inflamed or blocked digestive system.

It’s crucial to note that different types of infections require different types of antibiotics. Therefore, it’s essential to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian. Failing to do so can result in antibiotic resistance, making future treatment more challenging.

Surgical Treatment Options

In some cases, emergency surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue or repair damaged organs or blood vessels. For example, if sepsis results from a ruptured bladder or intestine, immediate surgical intervention is required.

The type of surgery required depends on which organs are affected by sepsis. For instance, if a dog has septic peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining), it may require exploratory laparotomy surgery.

During this procedure, an incision is made in the abdomen to examine internal organs such as the liver, spleen, intestines, and kidneys for signs of infection or damage. If any damaged tissue is found during surgery, it will be removed.

Surgery can also help drain abscesses that have formed due to bacterial infections. An abscess is a pocket filled with pus caused by bacteria spreading throughout tissues in various organs like the lungs or liver.

The prognosis for Dogs with Sepsis

The prognosis for dogs with sepsis is generally grave, and the survival rate depends on the severity of the infection and how quickly treatment is administered. Even with prompt medical intervention, some dogs may not survive.

It’s crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect your dog has sepsis. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve your dog’s chances of recovery.

Recovery and Management Strategies for Canine Sepsis

Supportive Care: The Cornerstone of Canine Sepsis Treatment

Supportive care is an essential aspect of the recovery process. This includes providing the dog with proper nutrition, hydration, and pain management. In late-stage cases, supportive care becomes even more critical as the dog’s body struggles to fight off the infection.

One crucial component of supportive care is fluid therapy. Dogs with sepsis often experience dehydration due to fever and rapid breathing. Providing fluids can help maintain blood pressure and prevent organ damage. Nutritional support is vital for dogs with sepsis as their bodies require extra energy to fight off the infection.

Pain management is also a crucial part of supportive care for dogs with sepsis. Pain can cause stress on the body and weaken the immune system, making it harder for the dog to recover from sepsis. Veterinarians may prescribe medication or recommend alternative therapies such as acupuncture or physical therapy.

Critical and Intensive Care: When Dogs Need Extra Help

In severe cases of sepsis, critical and intensive care may be necessary to give dogs a fighting chance at survival. Critical care involves close monitoring of vital signs such as heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Intensive care goes a step further by providing advanced treatments such as oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation.

One treatment that has shown promise in managing sepsis in dogs is extracorporeal blood purification (EBP). EBP involves filtering the dog’s blood outside of its body to remove harmful substances that contribute to inflammation and organ damage.

Another important aspect of critical and intensive care is managing cardiovascular function in dogs with sepsis. Rapid breathing can put stress on the heart and lungs, leading to decreased oxygen levels throughout the body. Cardiovascular support can help manage rapid breathing and improve the dog’s response to treatment.

Long-Term Management: Ensuring a Full Recovery

Even after surviving sepsis, dogs may require ongoing management to ensure a full recovery. This includes monitoring for any signs of relapse or complications, such as organ damage. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are essential to catch any issues early on.

Owners can also take steps at home to support their dog’s recovery from sepsis. Providing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of rest can help strengthen the immune system and prevent future infections. Owners should be vigilant about any changes in their dog’s behavior or health and seek veterinary care promptly if necessary.

Effective Treatment and Prevention of Canine Sepsis

Canine sepsis is a serious condition that can be fatal if not treated promptly. We have also talked about recovery and management strategies.

The prevention of canine sepsis is crucial as it can save your furry friend’s life. The best way to prevent sepsis is by keeping your dog healthy with regular check-ups, vaccinations, and proper hygiene. It’s essential to ensure that your dog’s teeth are clean and free from any infections or dental issues.

If your dog shows any signs of weakness, shaking, or confusion, take them to the vet immediately. Diagnostic tests such as blood work and cultures can help identify the underlying cause of sepsis in dogs.

Treatment options for canine sepsis include medical procedures like antibiotics and intravenous fluids or surgical procedures like draining abscesses or removing infected tissuesRecovery from sepsis can take time; therefore, it’s vital to follow up with your vet regularly.

In conclusion, recognizing the symptoms of canine sepsis early on and seeking prompt veterinary care can save your pet’s life. Practicing good hygiene habits at home and scheduling routine check-ups with your veterinarian can help prevent this life-threatening condition.


1. What causes canine sepsis?

Canine sepsis is caused by bacterial infections that spread throughout the body via the bloodstream.

2. How do I know if my dog has sepsis?

Symptoms of canine sepsis include weakness, shaking, confusion, fever, vomiting/diarrhea/anorexia (lack of appetite), rapid breathing/heart-rate/pulse rate/blood pressure changes/cyanosis (blue discoloration) in gums or tongue due to lack of oxygenation).

3. Can I prevent canine sepsis?

Yes, you can prevent canine sepsis by maintaining good hygiene habits at home and scheduling regular check-ups with your veterinarian.

4. What are the treatment options for canine sepsis?

Treatment options for canine sepsis include medical procedures like antibiotics and intravenous fluids or surgical procedures like draining abscesses or removing infected tissues.

5. How long does it take for a dog to recover from sepsis?

Recovery from sepsis can take time, depending on the severity of the condition and underlying causes. It’s essential to follow up with your vet regularly during recovery and management strategies.

6. Is sepsis in dogs contagious to humans?

No, canine sepsis is not contagious to humans; however, it’s crucial to practice good hygiene habits when handling your pet if they have an infection that could lead to sepsis.