What is Arthritis (Septic)?
Septic arthritis is an acute arthritis that is characterized by a severe, pus-filled infection caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. This type of arthritis is quite painful and localized within a joint or a few joints that have become inflamed by a source of infection or infection-causing agent. If this arthritis is diagnosed early, the prognosis is fair; although the infection may become healed, joint damage can occur.
Oftentimes the terms “arthritis” or “arthritic joints” is associated with older dogs. This particular type of arthritis can occur in any age of dog, as it is directly the result of an infection caused by an outside source. The symptoms of this type of arthritis may be more sudden than other arthritis forms.
Septic arthritis in dogs is arthritis that is localized within a specific joint. This arthritis is usually caused by a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.
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Symptoms of Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs
Septic arthritis in dogs does tend to occur in the larger breeds and in males more often than females of all ages. Symptoms include:
- Acute swelling of a joint
- Joint is warm to the touch
- Pain at the joint site
Since septic arthritis in dogs is caused by bacteria, fungi, or viral infection, your veterinarian will perform a culture on the fluid of the affected and painful joint. Types of bacteria and fungi that can be found in this type of arthritis are:
- Streptococcus pyogenes
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Blastomyces Dermatitidis (fungus)
Causes of Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs
Septic arthritis in dogs is caused by several factors. Dogs that have a weak immune system or suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes are more susceptible to this disorder. It is important to keep an eye on your dog if he has had any wounds or surgeries, as these are a few of the causes of this type of arthritis. Causes include:
- Infection after a bite
- Infection after a wound injury
- Infection after surgery
- Bacterial infection from another source in the body
- Fungal infection
Diagnosis of Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs
Once you see the symptoms related to septic arthritis in your dog, a call to the veterinarian is necessary to confirm a diagnosis and receive proper and immediate treatment. In order to diagnose this disorder your veterinarian will look at the dog’s complete health history, including accidents that have caused wounds. The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, as well as a complete blood test, biochemistry profile, and urine testing. This is to check for any inflammation or infection within your loved one.
Imaging techniques of the inflamed and painful joint or joints will be performed, and the veterinarian will take fluid from the joint to be tested for any bacterial infection. The fluid culture will be the most important test during the diagnostic process. The dog may need to be sedated during this test. This procedure will reveal the quantity of cells which are inflammatory, the color of the fluid, and the type of bacteria.
All of the above tests and examinations will give the veterinarian a precise picture on how to effectively treat your companion.
Treatment of Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs
Treatment for septic arthritis in canines depends solely on the type of bacteria or fungi that are within the inflamed joints. In addition to the following treatments, the joint is usually drained over time and cleaned out.
Once the type of bacteria or fungi is determined, the veterinarian will write a prescription for antibiotics to counteract and get rid of the infection.
An arthroscopy is a scope that is inserted into the joint that takes a closer look at the damage to the joint. Doctors often use this instead than a more invasive surgery.
Recovery of Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs
In terms of recovery and management, making sure the primary source of the disease itself is effectively being treated is vital. In addition to this, you may wish to apply hot or cold packs to the joint to help it heal better. This can help the blood flow smoothly.
You will need to keep the dog confined and under your close supervision, even if you need to crate him when you are gone. Be sure to keep outdoor visits to the bathroom brief and only allow the dog to walk slowly for a time while he is recovering.
If your dog had a catheter in place, you will be advised on how to properly care for it while at home. Before you know it, the catheter will come out, antibiotics will be completed, and your loved one will be back to normal.
Arthritis (Septic) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog is 12yrs old, has sever arthritis, moderate hip dysplasia and a few benign cysts over her body. Two weeks ago she was limping on her front leg and the lower part, towards her paw was swollen. I took her to the vet and her x-rays showed no injury to the site. However, one of her toes, the bone looked like cottage cheese. Since then, I have been told she has osteomyelitis, gram positive and gram negative bacterial infection. She was put on clindamycin and it wasn't working, so the vet put her on Zeniquin along with a probiotic. She has had a blood sample taken to determine if it's bacterial or fungal, definitely bacterial. She has had a cultural and sensitivity done, waiting on the results for that test. The vet doesn't think it's osteomyelitis anymore but does know it's resistant to the antibiotics given so far. Two weeks ago her swollen area was the size of a golf ball. Now after every time they open it up or exam the area, it's as big as a soft ball, her whole paw and lower part of her leg is now swollen and extremely painful. I have her on tramadol and gabapentin for pain but it's taken a major toll on her over all health. Her leg was draining clear to light red fluid from the site that the vet took samples from but after I had to take her back in today for more samples, for the culture test, it's now draining red blood, swollen twice the size it was earlier today and the vet said her temp was 103. I do and don't want to take her to another vet, as we have already spent several hundred of dollars already and I just don't want to start over with more tests from another vet. As each tests puts her through more pain. I just really would like an accurate diagnosis and treatment, so she doesn't have to go through anymore painful tests. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Without examining Jayda, I cannot give much input; osteomyelitis may be caused by a bacterial infection and if unresponsive to antibiotics a culture and sensitivity test would be the best way forward. I understand that you are reluctant to visit another Veterinarian but it may need to be an option if there isn’t a resolution after the culture and sensitivity testing. Osteosarcoma of the toe is another possibility and may look like osteomyelitis on x-ray, so this should be considered too; without examining Jayda I cannot really add anything further. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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My dog was diagnosed with septic joint. Had knee surgery. About every 3 months one of his leg swells and he can barley walk.
I put him on Prevacox. It helps. But why does it keep coming back?
He is a full blooded Chow. And is 5
Whilst the infection itself has been treated, the damage caused may be left behind and may cause flare ups of inflammation from time to time especially after some increased activity. It is worth restricting Carlo’s movement and making sure that he isn’t stressing the joint leading to another episode. If the infection keeps returning, it may be that the antibiotic treatment isn’t effective enough and only suppressing the infection; culture and sensitivity testing would help finding a suitable antibiotic. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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