Sepsis is the systemic response to infection, and is associated with a high mortality rate in dogs. Literature regarding the clinical course, distant organ dysfunction, and factors associated with mortality in dogs with naturally occurring sepsis is limited. The purpose of this investigation was to describe factors associated with distant organ dysfunction and death in a heterogeneous group of septic dogs admitted to an intensive care unit.
Post-hoc analysis was completed on prospectively collected data from septic dogs admitted to an intensive care unit from October 2004-October 2005. Animals were included only if they fit criteria for the systemic inflammatory response syndrome due to a confirmed infectious etiology. Signalment, infected anatomic site(s), infectious agent(s), clinical course, and outcome were collected on a standardized data collection sheet. Categorical variables were analyzed using Pearson's chi-square test, and P < 0.05 was considered significant.
Forty-seven dogs were included in the investigation. Twenty dogs (42%) were discharged from the hospital alive. The most commonly infected anatomic sites were the peritoneal cavity (n = 14; 30%), the subcutaneous tissues (11; 23%), and the lung (9; 19%). Forty-five of the infections were bacterial (96%) and the remaining two were fungal. Septic shock occurred in 10/47 dogs (21%). Distant organ dysfunction occurred in 21/47 dogs (45%) and was associated with a surgical disease process (P = 0.03), hypoglycemia (P = 0.011), the presence of septic shock (P = 0.002), and death (P = 0.019). Fourteen of 21 dogs (67%) of dogs with distant organ dysfunction died or were euthanized for grave prognosis. Hypoglycemia (P = 0.045), total number of failing organs (P = 0.003), and presence of septic shock (P < 0.001) were each associated with death or euthanasia for severe illness. All dogs that developed septic shock died.
Distant organ dysfunction occurs frequently in dogs with sepsis and is associated with death. Distant organ dysfunction may be seen more commonly in dogs with hypoglycemia, a surgical disease process, or septic shock. Septic shock in the dog carries a particularly poor prognosis.