Sepsis is a lfe threatening syndrome which occurs when inflammatory substances produced by the body to help fight infection overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain normal body function. This inflammation can potentially lead to a chain of events that damages internal organs and results in organ failure. Septic shock occurs when sepsis leads to significant decreases in blood pressure which is usually difficult to treat..
Common diseases which may lead to sepsis include pneumonia, kidney infections (pyelonephritis), uterine infections (pyometra), perforation of the gastrointestinal tract with leakage of intestinal contents, viral infections (e.g.. parvovirus), and severe trauma or wounds due to dog/cat bites.
Based on the pet’s history and exam, diagnostic testing may include bloodwork, urinalysis, infectious disease testing, and imaging (ultrasound and radiographs). Cultures of urine, bodily fluids, and/or blood may also be performed.
Antibiotics and fluid therapy are important first line treatments for sepsis. Surgery may also be indicated to help control the source of infection. In severe cases and in septic shock, medications to help maintain blood pressure are required.