Septicemia - also known as blood poisoning - is a critical condition caused by infectious agents spreading through the blood.


Urgency level 5


Danger level 5


Septicemia may affect any organ. Symptoms vary and can be hard to distinguish from other similar but critical conditions. The overall health of the dog is invariably compromised. Breathing and pulse are rapid. Fever is often present. As a result of septicemia, renal failure often develops causing a decrease in urine production.


Septicemia is caused by virulent multiplying agents (bacteria, viruses, or fungi) in the blood as well as their toxic products. The condition usually stems from a localized infectious process, i.e. pneumonia, peritonitis or an abscess. The infectious agents may be bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. If the body cannot control the infection, poisonous agents spread throughout the body and cause septicemia. A weak immune system, as can be found in older dogs, is a predisposing factor for the condition.


Diagnosis is based upon both clinical history and symptoms. Septicemia is more likely if a localized infectious process can be identified. Isolation of the agent from blood samples is possible in some cases. Due to the severity of the condition, immediate hospitalization and intravenous treatment is crucial. The chances of mortality in septicemia is high, and the prognosis depends upon the physical condition of the patient and the stage of the disease at the time of hospitalization.

Emergency measures

As the condition is potentially life threatening, dogs with symptoms of septicemia must be referred to a veterinary clinic immediately.

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