A serious 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). The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream, however, doesn't always mean that a dog has sepsis. So when is it considered sepsis?

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. If the bacteria aren’t removed by the liver, however, sepsis may then occur.

According to vet research, as bacteria circulate in the body of a dog with sepsis, it may affect one or several parts of the body. 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 important 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 treatment.

Being aware of 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.


  1. Symptoms of Sepsis in Dogs
  2. Causes of Sepsis in Dogs
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment for Sepsis in Dogs
  5. Prevention of Sepsis and Septic Shock in Dogs
  6. Emergency Fund
  7. FAQ

Symptoms of Sepsis in Dogs

Sepsis symptoms in dogs vary depending on which parts of their body are affected as well as 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 together with 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 normal ears/nose. When your dog gets a fever all of a sudden, it could be a serious sign that they have sepsis and need to be brought to the vet immediately.

Breathing Difficulties

Like what was mentioned earlier, sepsis may progress to septic shock when it is not addressed. As a result, your dog may experience a sudden drop in their 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 a life-threatening disease, it is important to be aware if your dog is exhibiting any symptoms. After all, being able to address the condition early on and prevent complications will give your dog a better prognosis.

Having a pet camera such as the Petcube Cam is a good way to monitor your pets at any time of the day, especially in times when you’re not around the house. The Petcube Cam is a smart and affordable HD pet camera with a 24/7 Online Vet Service. Its innovative features and unique service helps pet owners care for their pet more holistically.

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 infection may progress to something more serious, especially if it isn’t treated. Among the main cause of infections 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

An example of this kind of infection is parvovirus, which is a serious condition that can progress quickly if not addressed early. This should be treated and closely monitored by a veterinarian to prevent it from progressing.

Serious Dental Issues

Dental issues may not seem obvious at first, but broken and infected teeth (especially at the back of their mouths) may go unnoticed. When your dog has serious dental issues, it may rapidly spread to their bloodstream.

Contaminated Wounds

Regular cleaning of an open wound is important to keep it from developing an infection. When a wound is contaminated, bacteria may be more likely to enter the body.

Chronic Urinary Tract Infections

Dogs may also get UTIs, and this may affect their bloodstream if it isn’t addressed. Antibiotics, along with other medications, may be prescribed by your veterinarian to treat it.


If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of sepsis or if you suspect your dog of having developed the disease, it is important to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Before performing diagnostic tests, your vet will first 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. It’s likely that your vet will obtain a blood sample to be examined, and give IV fluids and antibiotics soon after to be able to fight the infection.

No matter where the origin of the sepsis came from, IV fluids as well as 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 the flow of blood in their organs. Oxygen therapy as well as other medications may be given to address other illnesses that they may become affected with as a result of their condition.

Prevention of Sepsis and Septic Shock in Dogs

Prevention is key. This is why having regular check-ups at the vet will greatly help in preventing your dog from developing different illnesses, including sepsis. Normally, sepsis is caused by other illnesses that have developed into serious infections, but your dog may also get it when they have open wounds that get infected.

This goes to show how important it is to prevent infection from illnesses, and in turn, prevent sepsis as well. So if your dog has an illness that may cause an infection, veterinary care, and regular monitoring is ideal. When health issues arise, address them immediately.

Even minor infections can lead to serious infections (which may lead to sepsis), but prevention goes a long way. By addressing the infection early on before it gets into your dog’s bloodstream, you lessen the chances of them developing serious infections such as sepsis (and septic shock in more severe cases).

Emergency Fund

The thought of our dog getting a life-threatening disease such as sepsis or septic shock is scary, but there are steps that we can take if ever our dog becomes affected. An example of a service that would greatly benefit both pets and pet owners in times of pet emergencies is Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund.

Being the best alternative to pet insurance, you get $3,000 in an emergency for all your pets for less than $1 per day. Apart from that, you also get access to their Online Vet service, where you consult with a certified vet anytime and anywhere you may be. With the Pet Emergency Fund, pets and pet owners are given the care that they need.


Is septic shock in dogs an emergency?

Yes, it is. A severe form of sepsis, septic shock 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 of sepsis originates from the gastrointestinal tract. With this, among the first common signs of sepsis are lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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