Septic pericarditis in a Yorkshire Terrier


  • Dr. Wagner's current address: West 86th Street Animal Hospital, 4030 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46268.

  • Dr. MacGregor's current address: Dover Veterinary Hospital, 96 Durham Road, Dover, NH 03820.

  • Dr. Sharkey's current address: Department of Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, 225 Veterinary Medical Center, 1365 Gortner Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108.

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Dr. John Rush, The Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, 200 Westboro Rd., North Grafton, MA 01536.


Objective: To describe a novel case management strategy for a small breed dog diagnosed with septic pericarditis.

Case summary: An 8-year-old spayed female Yorkshire Terrier presented for evaluation of pericardial effusion and persistent hypoglycemia. The dog had been hospitalized at a primary care facility for acute onset of vomiting, lethargy, inappetance, and painful abdominal distension. Pericardial effusion was detected and upon referral, cytologic examination revealed a suppurative exudate with Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The dog was treated with pericardiocentesis and placement of an indwelling pericardial catheter. Subtotal pericardiectomy was performed and a thoracotomy tube was utilized postoperatively. A penicillin-susceptible Bacteroides species was cultured from the pericardial fluid and was treated with a 6-week course of antibiotics. The dog was discharged from the hospital and clinical signs have not recurred in over 2 years.

New or unique information provided: Septic pericarditis, an uncommon cause of canine pericardial effusion, has been described primarily in large breed dogs and in association with bacterial infection secondary to Hordeum grass (foxtail) awn migration. This case was unique in that the dog was a small breed with no evidence of foreign body penetration or other precipitating cause for the pericarditis. In a novel management plan, an indwelling pericardial catheter was employed to stabilize the dog before subtotal pericardiectomy.