Canine Urosepsis

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When your dog suffers from a urinary tract infection or kidney condition, veterinary care is essential to reducing the risk of urosepsis. Urosepsis occurs when a blockage prevents the body from correctly eliminating urine. Instead, the infected urine backs up and enters the bloodstream, where it can then infect other areas, including major organs, of the body. Without prompt medical attention, urosepsis can be fatal.


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Pyelonephritis and Urosepsis

Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection in the upper urinary tract and kidneys. For pyelonephritis to develop, typically a problem with the blood supply to the kidneys or problems with the flap valves pre-exists. Kidney stones can also cause blockage. When a blockage occurs due to one of these problems, decomposed urine enters the bloodstream, causing urosepsis. A diagnosis of urosepsis is based on the presence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome.



Symptoms of urinary and kidney conditions include fever, difficult or frequent urination, blood in the urine, discolored urine, foul-smelling urine, frequent thirst and abdominal pain. Should the condition progress to urosepsis, symptoms include fever, bright red or pale mucous membranes, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and irregular blood test results such as glucose levels and anticoagulant proteins. If you see such symptoms, suspect a possible urinary or kidney infection or sepsis and seek veterinary care immediately.

Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome


To diagnose urosepsis, a veterinarian will look for signs of systemic inflammatory response syndrome. These signs include tachycardia, tachypnea, hypothermia or hyperthermia, leukocytosis, leukopenia or increased band neutrophils. Tachycardia is rapid pulse rate; tachypnea is rapid breathing. Hypothermia and hyperthermia refer to changes in core body temperature. Leukocytosis refers to elevated white cells in the blood, which represent an immune system response in the body. Leukopenia is the opposite, showing a decrease in white blood cells. A diagnosis of this syndrome and of urosepsis requires at least two of these symptoms.



Treatment for urosepsis depends on which bacterium is causing the infection. A veterinarian will take blood and urine cultures. Common bacterial causes include Escherichia coli, Staphyloccus, Streptococcus, Klebsiells, Enterobacter and Pseudomonas. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are given to treat these bacteria and may be changed as needed. In addition to treating the urosepsis, it is essential that you treat the underlying condition causing the urosepsis. In urinary obstructions or kidney stones, surgery may be necessary. If left untreated, urosepsis will eventually invade major organs and cause death.

By Deborah Lundin


PetMD: Bacterial Infection (Pyelonephritis) of the Kidneys in Dogs Treatment of Canine Sepsis: First Identify, Eradicate the Cause
PetMD: Septicemia and Bacteremia in Dogs

About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.