A severe and potentially life-threatening disease, Sepsis is a condition that any dog may be susceptible to. It occurs when the bloodstream catches an infection (which may be due to various causes). However, the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream doesn’t always mean that a dog has Sepsis. So when is it considered Sepsis?
What causes Sepsis in dogs?
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Sepsis in dogs happens when bacteria or other harmful elements enter their bloodstream where 1. there is inflammation, and 2. the liver cannot remove it from the bloodstream. On the other hand, Bacteremia is a condition where bacteria enters the bloodstream and is removed quickly. However, if the liver doesn’t remove the bacteria, Sepsis may occur.
According to vet research, as bacteria circulate in a dog with Sepsis, it may affect one or several body parts. In effect, this can potentially lead to severe infections. Luckily, Sepsis is not that common in dogs compared to Bacteremia.
Nevertheless, if your dog exhibits symptoms, have them checked with the vet immediately to be sure. It is essential to treat Sepsis because when the condition is prolonged without treatment, it can result in septic shock. This is an emergency, calling for immediate veterinary medicine.
Knowing how Sepsis occurs, what causes it, and what treatment options are available goes a long way. This helps equip us dog owners with the preparation needed to address the condition if ever our dog experiences it.
Signs of Sepsis in Dogs
Sepsis symptoms in dogs vary depending on which parts of their body are affected and the severity of their infection. Below are the common symptoms of Sepsis in dogs:
Weakness, Shaking, and Confusion
Usually, this happens because of sudden changes in your dog’s blood pressure, but it may also be due to a stomach upset or when they’re generally feeling unwell.
Lack of Appetite Together with Vomiting or Diarrhea
A common symptom of Sepsis in dogs is a lack of appetite and vomiting or diarrhea. This results from your dog’s body fighting the infection and the inflammation that they are experiencing.
As the infection spreads in their body, your dog may experience fever. Among the signs of fever in dogs are: shivering, panting, and warmer than typical ears/nose. When your dog gets a fever suddenly, it could be a serious sign that they have Sepsis and must be brought to the vet immediately.
As mentioned earlier, Sepsis may progress to septic shock when not addressed. As a result, your dog may experience a sudden drop in blood pressure and other symptoms, such as a change in their breathing patterns. Thus, your dog may breathe rapidly or have difficulty in breathing.
Because Sepsis can be life-threatening, knowing if your dog exhibits any symptoms is essential. After all, addressing the condition early on and preventing complications will give your dog a better prognosis.
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Causes of Sepsis in Dogs
Sepsis can occur when an infection enters a dog’s bloodstream. When the amount of bacteria exceeds what the white blood cells can remove, the disease may become more serious, especially if it isn’t treated. Among the main cause of conditions that may lead to Sepsis in dogs are:
Respiratory Tract Infections
Respiratory infections such as pneumonia can become life-threatening. Thus, close monitoring is needed for dogs with this kind of infection.
Gastrointestinal Tract Infections
Parvovirus is an example of this kind of infection, a severe condition that can progress quickly if not addressed early. A veterinarian should treat and closely monitor this to prevent it from moving.
Serious Dental Issues
Dental issues may not seem evident initially, but broken and infected teeth (especially at the back of their mouths) may go unnoticed. When your dog has severe dental issues, it may rapidly spread to its bloodstream.
Regular cleaning of an open wound is essential to keep it from developing an infection. Bacteria may be more likely to enter the body when an injury is contaminated.
Chronic Urinary Tract Infections
Dogs may also get UTIs, affecting their bloodstream, if not addressed. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and other medications to treat it.
If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of Sepsis or you suspect your dog has developed the disease, it is essential to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Before performing diagnostic tests, your vet will gather information about your dog’s history alongside a physical examination. After which, tests such as a complete blood count, blood chemistry, urinalysis, and a blood culture sample may be done.
Among the common indicators of Sepsis include: having a fever, an increase in white blood cell count, and an increase in both heart and respiratory rate. However, to find out what the root cause is, as well as where it was initially located, more tests may be done.
Based on what your vet may find, the additional tests that may be taken are X-rays, MRI, ultrasound, CT scan, and ECG readings, among others, to determine where the Sepsis originated from.
Treatment for Sepsis in Dogs
Even before Sepsis is diagnosed in your dog, there are cases when your vet may already prescribe antibiotics. This is because when antibiotics are given too late when we talk of Sepsis, it may immensely decrease your dog’s chances of survival. Your vet will likely obtain a blood sample to be examined and give IV fluids and antibiotics soon after to fight the infection.
No matter where the origin of the Sepsis came from, IV fluids and antibiotics will be given. In some cases, surgery may be needed. IV fluids help by increasing your dog’s blood pressure, while the medications increase blood flow in their organs. Oxygen therapy, and other drugs, may be given to address other illnesses they may become affected with due to their condition.
Prevention of Sepsis and Septic Shock in Dogs
Prevention is key. This is why regular check-ups at the vet will significantly help prevent your dog from developing different illnesses, including Sepsis. Commonly, Sepsis is caused by other diseases that have become severe infections, but your dog may also get it when they have open wounds that get infected.
This shows how important it is to prevent infection from illnesses and, in turn, prevent Sepsis. So veterinary care and regular monitoring are excellent, and regular monitoring is suitable if your dog’s disease may cause an infection. When health issues arise, address them immediately.
Even minor infections can lead to severe conditions (which may lead to Sepsis), but prevention goes a long way. By addressing the disease early on before it gets into your dog’s bloodstream, you lessen the chances of them developing severe conditions such as Sepsis (and septic shock in more severe cases).
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Is septic shock in dogs an emergency?
Yes, it is. Septic shock, a severe Sepsis, would need close monitoring and treatment. With this condition, your dog would need to be hospitalized for treatment. Meanwhile, the vet will closely monitor your dog’s white blood cell count, red blood cell count, blood sugar level, kidney values, liver enzymes, and blood clotting.
Are the symptoms of Sepsis in dogs easy to detect?
Symptoms of Sepsis may be similar to other health conditions, but the most common form originates from the gastrointestinal tract. With this, the first common signs of Sepsis are lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.