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Inflammation of Body Blood Vessels in Dogs

Systemic Vasculitis in Dogs


Systemic vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that is usually the result of an injury to the endothelial cell layer, which covers the internal surfaces of heart, the lymph vessels, and the interior surface of the blood vessels. It can also be caused by infection or inflammation that has reached the endothelial cell layer from other parts of the body. For example, bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, or by-products of the immune system can accumulate at the endothelial layer and can lead to an inflammation response in multiple sites of the body


Symptoms and Types


Symptoms may vary depending on which of the various organs are involved -- such as the liver, kidneys or brain.


  • Skin ulcers
  • Patches of dead skin, including on the footpads
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Weight loss
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eyes (uveitis)




Systemic vasculitis may be directly related to infections, including bacterial, viral, or parasitic. Some dogs may develop the disorder due to an immune-mediated disease, where the immune system over reacts and attacks its own body system. Other underlying causes for systemic vasculitis include:


  • Bad drug interactoin
  • Neoplasia – abnormal tissue growth, tumor
  • Kidney disease
  • Allergies to food or drugs
  • Joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis




Your doctor will begin with the standard fluid analyses, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolytes, and urinalysis. Any abnormalities that show up in the results of the laboratory tests will depend on the underlying disease or disorder. Your veterinarian may need to conduct various tests to conclusively diagnose the primary disease responsible for the symptoms.


Because this is a disorder of the internal organs, internal visual diagnostics will need to be used to judge the severity of the disorder and to determine a course of action. X-rays will be conducted to diagnose whether heartworm disease is the culprit, and your veterinarian may also take samples of skin tissue in order to diagnose inflammation of blood vessels, and what is present in the tissue to be causing the inflammatory response.


If food or drug allergy is suspected, the first recommendation is usually to discontinue the use of the suspected food or drug and to judge the response. If this is the case, your veterinarian will advise on the appropriate diet to change to for your dog while determining the cause. It is not advisable to make dramatic diet changes without the guidance of a health professional.



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