Septicemia in Animals

Septicemia is a serious bloodstream infection. It occurs when a bacterial infection enters the bloodstream from elsewhere in the body, such as the: skin lungs kidneys bladder.

Septicemia is a serious bloodstream infection.

It occurs when a bacterial infection enters the bloodstream from elsewhere in the body, such as the:

  • skin
  • lungs
  • kidneys
  • bladder

This is dangerous because the bacteria and their toxins can be carried through the bloodstream to your entire body.


        Septicemia is caused by an infection in another part of your body.

Many types of bacteria can lead to septicemia, and the exact source of the infection often can’t be determined. The most common infections that lead to septicemia are:

  • Kidney Infections
  • Infections in The Abdominal Area
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Lung Infections, Such as Pneumonia

Bacteria from these infections enter the bloodstream and multiply rapidly, causing immediate symptoms.


Symptoms may follow an injury, surgery, or another localized infection, such as pneumonia. The most common initial symptoms are:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Breathing very fast
  • Rapid heart rate

More severe symptoms will begin to emerge as septicemia progresses without proper treatment. These include the following:

  • Confusion or the inability to think clearly
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Red dots that appear on the skin
  • Reduced urine volume
  • Inadequate blood flow
  • Shock

It’s crucial to get to the hospital right away if you are or someone else is showing signs of septicemia. You shouldnt wait or try to treat the problem at home.


Diagnosing septicemia and sepsis are some of the biggest challenges facing doctors. It can be difficult to find the exact cause of the infection. Diagnosis will usually involve a wide range of tests.

Physical exam

  • Low blood pressure
  • High body temperature

The doctor may also look for signs of conditions that more commonly occur along with septicemia, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Cellulitis, a type of skin infection
  • Utis
  • Meningitis

Laboratory tests

The doctor may want to perform tests on multiple types of fluids to help confirm a bacterial infection. These fluids may include:

  • Urine
  • Wound secretions (and skin sores)
  • Respiratory secretions
  • Blood

The doctor may check your cell and platelet counts and also order tests to analyze your blood clotting.

If septicemia is causing you to have breathing issues, the doctor may also look at the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood.

Imaging tests

If signs of infection are not obvious, your doctor may order imaging tests to look more closely at specific organs and tissue. These include:


  • There is no treatment for septicemia.
  • By the time it is recognized it’s often too late since infection has spread too extensively for antibiotics to be effective.
  • Septicemia occurs because the calf is born without an active immune system, and sufficient immune protection has not been provided by colostrum
  • Older calves with neurologic signs should receive a number of treatments to cover all potential causes, including a broad-spectrum antibiotic, thiamine and an anti-inflammatory such as meloxicam or dexamethasone,”says Homerosky.

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