Shock Due to Bacterial Infection in Dogs

Shock in dogs occurs when the flow of blood decreases to a level that is below what is needed to stay alive.

Septic shock occurs in dogs when an infection enters the blood stream. This can be caused from any type of bacterial infection in the dog. Hense, shock associated with generalized bacterial infection of the body is medically referred to as sepsis, a physical condition known as septic shock. Once bacteria gets into the blood stream, septic shock can develop if left untreated. Toxins are released by the bacteria that may cause tissue damage. Dilation of blood vessels causes the blood to pool in tissue not allowing the blood to return to the heart for pumping. This can lead to low blood pressure, poor organ function and even death.

Septic shock is associated with low blood flow (hypoperfusion) or low blood pressure (hypotension), which may or may not respond to fluids or medical treatment given to maintain arterial blood pressure. More prone to this condition are younger or older dogs with under developed or reduced immune systems.


Symptoms of septic shock are categorized into early shock symptoms and late shock symptoms.

Early shock


A lethargic dog is one of the first symptoms of septic shock. He may not want to eat and vomiting may or may not be present. In the first stages of shock, his breathing will be labored, visible by excessive panting along with an accelerated pulse. Other sysmptoms include

Normal or high arterial blood pressure

Bounding pulses

Reddened moist tissues of the body

The pink or red color of the gums is very quick to return when the gums are blanched by finger pressure


Rapid breathing

Late shock


The symptoms progress quickly with a fever or below-normal temperature. His pupils will be expanded with a lost stare and glossy eyes. He will have no reaction when he is called and if a loud noise occurs he will not exhibit a startle reaction. He may tremble and eventually have no movement at all. Other symptoms include

Rapid heart rate or slow heart rate

Poor pulse

Pale gums or moist tissues of the body

The pink color of the gums is slow to return when the gums are blanched by finger pressure

Cool extremities (from lack of circulation)

Low body temperature

Mental depression or stupor

Production of only small amounts of urine

Difficulty breathing; rapid breathing

Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding in the skin and moist tissues of the body.

Fluid build-up in the tissues, especially the legs and under the skin (swollen limbs)

Gastrointestinal bleeding

Extreme weakness


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