• cat;
  • dog;
  • sepsis;
  • septic abdomen;
  • vacuum-assisted closure;
  • VAPD



To describe the use of vacuum-assisted peritoneal drainage (VAPD) in dogs and cats with septic peritonitis.


Retrospective descriptive study.


University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.


Six dogs and 2 cats with septic peritonitis.


Application of VAPD after abdominal exploration.


Pre- and post-operative physical and clinicopathologic data, surgical findings, treatment, VAPD fluid production, outcome, and survival are reported.

Main results

Eight nonconsecutive cases of septic peritonitis, consisting of 6 dogs and 2 cats, were treated surgically and had VAPD applied post-operatively. The mean duration of clinical signs prior to surgical intervention was 4 ± 3 days. VAPD therapy was applied for a mean of 2 ± 1.1 days and collected a median of 27 mL/kg/d of abdominal effusate. The median time in hospital was 5 days and abdominal closure was completed in 5 of the 8 patients. All specimens collected at surgery cultured positive for bacteria, most commonly Enterococcus spp. The peritoneum of 4 animals was cultured at the time of abdominal closure; 1 was negative and 3 were positive for Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp. or gram-positive cocci. Cultures before and after surgery differed in 2 patients. Hypoproteinemia was present in all patients postoperatively. Three patients were considered survivors, all of which were dogs. Five patients died or were euthanized due to cardiopulmonary arrest (n = 3), pyothorax (n = 1), and acute, severe, septic peritonitis (n = 1).


VAPD is available for maintaining abdominal drainage for the treatment of septic peritonitis after surgical intervention; however, similar to open abdominal drainage and closed suction drainage, nosocomial infection and hypoproteinemia remain challenges in the treatment of septic peritonitis.