Treatment of canine sepsis: First identify, eradicate the cause - DVM
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Treatment of canine sepsis: First identify, eradicate the cause


Use the nasogastric tube to give microenteral nutrition.

Once the vomiting has been controlled, begin the administration of oral electrolyte solution supplemented with glucose; this can be done by giving 2 ml to 10 ml of a oral electrolyte solution by dosing syringe, or the oral electrolyte solution can be placed in a fluid bag and dripped continuously into the nasogastric tube at a rate of 2 ml to 10 ml per hour.

Once the animal tolerates the oral electrolyte solution for at least four to six hours, begin liquid nutritional supplementation.

Check monitoring

Packed-cell volume, total plasma solids, blood urea nitrogen, glucose, sodium, and potassium every four to six hours.

Supplement and adjust fluid rate as deemed necessary.

Check perfusion parameters (mucous-membrane color, pulse rate and intensity, capillary refill time, blood pressure, central venous pressure) every two to four hours, and resuscitate with fluids plus or minus hetastarch or dextran 70 infusion as necessary.

Estimate quantity of vomiting, diarrhea and urine output, and record observations every two hours.

Monitor rectal temperature every four to six hours.


Anticipate the problems of poor perfusion, severe dehydration, hypokalemia, hypoglycemia, hypoproteinemia, aspiration pneumonia, sepsis/septic shock, intussusception, hyperthermia or hypothermia, and massive fluid replacement requirements.

Maintain the albumin concentration above 2 g/dl, which likely needs to be done with fresh-frozen plasma on hospital days 2 to 4.

Administer hetastarch or dextran 70 at a rate of 10 ml to 20 ml per kg over four hours, decreasing lactated Ringer's solution or Normosol-R during this time interval, on hospital days 2 and 3.

Owner/client information to discuss

  • Cost estimate
  • Vaccinate other dogs
  • Good sanitation, such as use disinfectants for environmental cleanup

Notes to remember

  • Very poor prognosis for Rottweilers
  • Subcutaneous fluids may cause sterile abscesses and slough the skin because of poor circulation.
  • Update other vaccinations after clinical recovery.

Dr. Hoskins is owner of Docu-Tech Services. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine with specialities in small animal pediatrics. He can be reached at (225) 955-3252, fax: (214) 242-2200 or e-mail:


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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