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What is Septicemia and Bacteremia?

The terms Septicemia and Bacteremia are sometimes used interchangeably but are actually more of a cause and effect. Bacteremia is the presence of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream. Septicemia is a secondary illness that occurs due to the body’s inflammatory response to that infection.

Bacteremia is not uncommon as even dental cleaning can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream, but a healthy dog’s immune system will usually defeat the infection before the animal shows symptoms of illness. If the bacterial infection is not quickly dispatched due to a suppressed immune response, the amount of bacteria in the dog’s blood can increase to the point of septicemia, also called sepsis or blood poisoning. Septicemia is very serious, and you should seek veterinary assistance immediately if your dog is showing symptoms.

Bacteremia is a term used to describe an infection in the bloodstream. Septicemia is the associated condition wherein the body mounts an inflammatory response to that bacterial infection. Act urgently, as septicemia has upwards of a 50% mortality rate in canine.

Septicemia and Bacteremia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,500

Average Cost

$3,000

Symptoms of Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

  • Bacteremia symptoms can include:
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Lack of appetite
    • Lethargy and possible depression

  • If it progresses to septicemia:
    • Fever
    • Shaking
    • Chills
    • Pale gums
    • Rapid pulse
    • Rapid panting or shallow breathing
    • Low blood glucose
    • Disorientation

These symptoms may appear gradually or very quickly, depending on the location of the infection.

Types
  • Bacteremia can be temporary, causing little or no symptoms, or more aggressive, leading to a case of septicemia.
  • Septicemia can affect several different organ systems. Inflammation may occur in the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, bones, joints, urinary tract, pancreas, or intact sex organs.
  • Septicemia is life-threatening, as it can quickly progress to septic shock, and lead to complete organ shutdown.
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Causes of Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

A temporary bout of bacteremia can be caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream during dental cleanings, or from bacteria that lives in the intestines being released into the body during surgery. In cases of otherwise healthy dogs, these pose little risk, and the dog’s immune system will make short work of the infection. However, if your dog has a compromised immune system or a separate chronic disease (such as diabetes), your veterinarian will likely prescribe an antibiotic after dental work to reduce the risk of bacteremia.

Septicemia is caused by a weakened immune system, when the bacterial load in the animal’s blood becomes too much to fight off without support. E.coli is the most common cause of septicemia, but parvovirus, bacterial pneumonia, chronic urinary issues, pancreatitis, and untreated wounds can also be life-threatening for immune-compromised dogs. Sepsis can also occur from unchecked fungal, parasitic, or viral infections although this is less common.

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Diagnosis of Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

If your dog is showing symptoms of bacteremia or septicemia, you should take them to your veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination, take a full medical history, and draw blood and urine samples. A pathologist will examine the samples under a microscope to determine the exact cause of the infection that has lead to sepsis. They may take several blood and urine samples to look at other effects of the infection, such as low white blood cell count, decreased blood oxygen, and proteins in the urine that may point to renal failure. They can also take cultures from the sputum, spinal fluid, or pus from any wounds to be analyzed for bacterial load.

The veterinarian may also perform and EKG to look for heart irregularities, chest x-rays to determine if pneumonia is a factor, and an ultrasound of the belly to rule out any abscesses of the GI tract or internal sex organs.

Because septicemia can affect so many of the organ systems, all of these tests are important to pinpoint the infection and determine the most effective course of treatment.

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Treatment of Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

While the pathology of the infection is being determined, it is best to start treatment immediately with a broad-spectrum antibiotic (or multiple antibiotics) tuned to fight the most common causes of septicemia. Once a cause is identified, your veterinarian will adjust the medicine to pinpoint fighting that specific pathogen. If it is determined that an internal abscess is the root cause of the septicemia, surgery may be needed to remove the source of the infection.

If your dog is in septic shock, a hospital stay will be necessary for proper monitoring and supportive care. They will be given intravenous antibiotics for the most aggressive infection treatment and Ringer’s solution to counteract dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting. They may be given vasopressors (drugs that constrict the blood vessels) to increase blood flow to the heart, lungs, brain and other organ systems. Because septicemia so often involves the GI tract, your veterinarian may need to insert a feeding tube to ensure your dog is getting proper nutrition while being treated for the infection.

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Recovery of Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

Septicemia is very serious and has a 50% mortality rate in dogs. The most valuable action to ensure recovery is prompt veterinary treatment and supportive care. Once the veterinarian decides your dog is healthy enough to return home, they may be put on a short-term soft diet to give their digestive tract more healing time. A few weeks of rest and your dog will likely be back to their old self.

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Septicemia and Bacteremia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,500

Average Cost

$3,000

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Septicemia and Bacteremia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mowgli

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Cocker Spaniel

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Drowsiness
Fever
Loss Of Appetite

I gave Mowgli a bath on Sunday and since then he has had fever, is not eating and is extremely drowsy. I took him to the vet immediately. He gave him a few antibiotic injections and took his blood test. Today the reports came and a blood infection with low platelet count was diagnosed. I'm really worried. What can I do from my end?

Sept. 25, 2018

Mowgli's Owner

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LUCKY

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Dachshund

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fever

My dog was admitted today at the hospital after the doctor diagnosed him with severe infection from blood test and itchy and flaky skin. Surprisingly his symptoms developed in a day. He had a strange slimy vomit,fever,did not eat,tired and drowsy. All this in a day.The doctor put him on IV drip and antibiotics. Any suggestions or advice?

Aug. 20, 2018

LUCKY's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about what is going on with Lucky and the cause of this problem, I don't really have any way to know what might have happened, or how to help him. Since you have him at your veterinary clinic for care, they would be a great resource for you to ask what might have happened to cause this, and if there is anything more that you can do for him. IT sounds like they are taking good care of him. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 20, 2018

Thank you for the response. Lucky is doing better and has started eating again.he is still at the clinic since the doctor recommended it til the end of the antibiotic course. Although the source of the infection is not clear, they said it might have been through food/water. Since we leave him out in the garden alday, it's difficult to keep a track of what all he might find there and consume.

Aug. 21, 2018

LUCKY's Owner

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Shelby

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

Hi my dog shelby had her first litter of pups nearly 5 weeks ago. 2 days ago she got up from feeding them and just collapsed. We called the vet and were told to monitor her thru the night keep her fluids up and bring her in the morning. She was doing ok for a few hours even got up to walk and drink. After an hour she vomitted. S I took her straight to emergancy, where we discovered she had mastitis. She has been on an IV with fluids and antibiotics since. After 24hrs her temperature started going up and one of her mammaries have started bruising, her bloodwork showed low glucose leveles and anemic. They told me she now has sepsis and that they've changed her treatment to aggressive antibiotics via IV, fluids and strong painkillers. They cannot give me a prognosis until another blood draw tomorrow. To determine whether she will be fit for sugery or not. She is now eating, not vommiting, no diarrhea, trying to move and get up but is in a lot of pain, temperature is in the normal range at 38.8 but being monitored. When we saw her she was extreemly happy wagging her tail being very attentive giving lots of kisses trying to get on us sat up but she was very weak. Have you seen dogs come back from sepsis and what are good signs to look for. Thank you

June 7, 2018

Shelby's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Shelby may be able to recover from her episode of sepsis, since she is on IV antibiotics and care. Her increased activity level is a good sign, eating, not vomiting and no diarrhea are all positive signs. Once you have further lab work, you will know more. I hope that all goes well for her.

June 7, 2018

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Zara

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Golden Retriever

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting, Lethargy

Golden retriever, desexed female, just turning 4. She was diagnosed with Septicemia and admitted to the Vet hospital a few hours ago. Noticed vomiting since yesterday. Since today morning she started drinking plenty of water and a few minutes later noticed vomiting it. Took to the vet at that time & he prescribed some medication. My dog had one dose but after a few more hours she went totally silent and wanted to sleep. after another 1 hours time, she started vomiting and but it was just water. After another 30 mins maybe she started shaking her arm and tried to vomit. It was brown colour phlem. We immediately took her to the emergency. She was admitted and diagnosed with the Septicemia. She is on antibiotics now. The vet said that her heart is strong but she has low blood sugar so now she is taking glucose as well. The vet also said that she might need to stay for 2-3 days. I am so worried about her condition. Do you think she is stable? Do you think she will be back to normal? Will she be able to live as a normal dog? Is this curable? Please advise me. Is she in the good hands? Thank you! RVI

March 28, 2018

Zara's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Zara I cannot determine how severe her condition is, however being admitted to a veterinary hospital she will receive antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care to get her through this. I cannot give you any indication of prognosis since I don’t know how severe the symptoms are and we don’t know how she will respond to treatment since she only just started. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 28, 2018

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Skippy

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miniature poodle

dog-age-icon

9 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

Skippy is a nine month old puppy who had an FHO surgery on Monday. Today i noticed bruising around the surgery site and a severe pain - she has never bitten me but when I tried to touch her leg, she bit me and yelped. I took her to her doctor and they discovered a bad infection - lots of dark fluid was extraxted from her hip. It was a huge amount! She also had a 104.1 fever. The doctor took blood and administered two different antibiotics. Bloodwork came back soon and doc said the white blood cell count was normal, whish, she said, was good news. Later in the afternoon the vet called me amd said my puppy’s fever had gone down and that she ate some food. However, the doc said it was too early for a definitive outcome prognosis. She said there might be complications, such as a blood cloth, or even infection of the bone. My questions are: will Skippy survive? Does she have an infection or sepsis? When would she be “out of the woods”? And what happens if she gets a blood cloth or bone infection? Will she survive those?

Feb. 11, 2018

Skippy's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Unfortunately, if your Veterinarian is unable to give you an indication of prognosis then I cannot either especially since I haven’t examined her and cannot determine severity etc… It is encouraging that the fever has come down and that Skippy is eating again but it would require a week or more to have a better picture of the response to treatment. From your description it sounds like a localised infection or a bad haematoma, but again I cannot comment fully due to not being able to examine her. I would take each day as it comes and wait for updates. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 11, 2018

Thank you, doctor! Skippy’s vet called again this morning. The fere is down to 101.5 and she is eating a bit today as well. The vet will start cold laser treatments tomorrow.

Feb. 11, 2018

Skippy's Owner

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ChiChi

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Chihuahua/Jack Russell

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13 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Shallow Rapid Breathing
Vomiting
No Appetite
Thirsty
Stumbling
Confusion

My 13 year old Chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix had been diagnosed with a liver tumor and had 2 ultrasounds, aspirations during the tests and lab work. Each time he showed no sign of cancer and the tumor was not changing. His liver enzymes were elevated but steady. He was, also, shown to have a gallstone. One morning he was his playful, happy self, wanting food and treats. By that afternoon he had vomited everything up and only wanted water. He would pace about some but did not want to lay down. We took him to the vet the next morning and his liver enzymes were off the charts. She suggested another ultrasound but it could not be down until the next day. The ultrasound showed his liver had not changed, his spleen was enlarged and his gallbladder was extended. She said his gallbladder may be "leaking"? She did nothing but give him a nausea pill and some special food - he would not eat or take the pill. He became very thirsty, urinated a lot, had diarrhea, breathing was very shallow, became confused, stumbled when trying to walk - it was awful. I called the vet and told her over and over that he was SO sick, but she didn't do anything but treat a few symptoms. The next day I took him back to the vet and she asked me "What do you want?". I told her I wanted him in a doggie hospital where he could get the treatment he needed! She said "We can do that, but not here". She told me they were not set up to except patients. The name on the clinic said Animal HOSPITAL!! She sent us to a critical care unit and the vet there took him in, said she would examine him, possibly do another ultrasound, she had our vets information, and she would give us a call. We hadn't even made it home before she called and told us he had Sepsis, probably from his gallbladder that may have ruptured. She told us we should make a decision to either have surgery (she gave us a less then 20% chance) or Euthanasia. It had been 4 days before he was diagnosed. I keep feeling that I should have taken him to the ER vet immediately, could he may have had a better chance? I feel extreme guilt for not taking action quicker. Unfortunately, he died. Saddest day of my life.

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Buttons

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fever

My chihuahua who was 8 years old and 6.5 lbs had started vomiting blood on Sunday night, lots of blood actually and on Monday morning we took her to the vet. x-rays and ultrasound showed an intestinal blockage and she was admitted and had surgery that afternoon. The vet called and said she handled the surgery well, he had checked her stomach which he said was highly flamed and removed a ball of string from her intestinal track that had been wedged in the tract. He said when he took it out, the intestine responded back to a normal, pink color. When he left for the evening, she was alert and sitting up. This was at 10pm. At 600am, I received a call from the vet that Buttons had passed away during the night. He said her blood work did not show any form of bactermia/septicemia that was cause for alarm at that time. I am sort of at a loss as to what may have caused her death. The amount of blood she vomited was significant, plus an inflamed stomach...I am just trying to get an answer. He did say he thought it was a bacteria infection in her bloodstream after the surgery. She had her teeth cleaned about 6 weeks ago and given clindamycin twice a day until the meds were gone. Thank you for any assistance you may give me.

Septicemia and Bacteremia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,500

Average Cost

$3,000

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