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Inflammation of Body Blood Vessels in Dogs

Systemic Vasculitis in Dogs

Systemic vasculitis in dogs refers to an inflammation of the blood vessels, often stemming from injury to the endothelial cell layer. This layer covers internal surfaces such as the heart, lymph vessels, and the interior surface of blood vessels. The condition can also arise from infections or inflammation spreading to the endothelial cell layer from elsewhere in the body. Various factors like bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, or immune system by-products can accumulate at the endothelial layer, triggering an inflammatory response across multiple body sites.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms can differ depending on which organs are affected, such as the liver, kidneys, or brain. They may include skin ulcers, patches of necrotic skin (including on the footpads), bleeding, swelling, lethargy, fever, pain, weight loss, and inflammation of the interior of the eyes (uveitis).


The causes of systemic vasculitis may stem directly from infections, including bacterial, viral, or parasitic origins. In some cases, dogs may develop the disorder due to immune-mediated diseases, wherein the immune system excessively reacts and targets its own bodily systems. Other underlying factors contributing to systemic vasculitis can include adverse drug interactions, neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth or tumors), kidney disease, allergies to food or drugs, and joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.


The diagnostic process begins with standard fluid analyses, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolytes, and urinalysis. Any abnormalities detected in these laboratory tests will depend on the underlying disease or disorder. Additional tests may be necessary for a conclusive diagnosis of the primary disease causing the symptoms.

Since systemic vasculitis affects internal organs, internal visual diagnostics are essential for assessing its severity and determining the appropriate course of action. X-rays may be performed to diagnose heartworm disease, and skin tissue samples may be taken to diagnose inflammation of blood vessels and identify the cause of the inflammatory response.

If a food or drug allergy is suspected, the first step is usually to discontinue the suspected food or drug and assess the response. Your veterinarian will provide guidance on the appropriate diet change for your dog while investigating the cause. It’s important not to make significant dietary changes without consulting a healthcare professional.


The main objective of treatment is to address the underlying condition causing the inflammation of the blood vessels. If an immune-mediated disorder is identified as the underlying cause, your veterinarian will prescribe medication to suppress the abnormal immune system response.

Living and Management

Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary to monitor your dog’s response to treatment and make any necessary adjustments. Your veterinarian may conduct regular blood tests, especially early in the treatment process. It’s crucial to administer all prescribed medications at the correct doses and times as instructed by your veterinarian. Missing even a single dose can hinder the effectiveness of the therapy.

During treatment, your dog should be fed a diet that provides optimal, well-balanced nutrition. The appropriate type of food may vary depending on your dog’s age, breed, and overall health status. Consult your veterinarian for guidance and adhere closely to the treatment and dietary recommendations.

If your dog requires medication to suppress the immune system, close monitoring is essential for any signs of irregularities, changes in health status, or new illnesses. These medications can have serious side effects due to immune suppression, so it’s important to protect your dog from new infections and provide a healthy diet and stress-free environment.

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