Septic Arthritis In Dogs

14 May 2017 | Dog Advice

Signs Of Septic Arthritis In Dogs

Septic arthritis is a painful joint condition that some dog breeds suffer with. The disorder can flare up after injury and exposure to the elements (microorganisms) this can cause severe damage to the joint. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream which causes all sorts of issues and lots of pain. This condition is different to arthritis.

Septic arthritis and arthritis are two different conditions. Arthritis causes inflammation to the dogs bone joints, whilst Septic arthritis not only causes inflammation but damaging bacteria growth which can enter the fluids located in the joint affected.

There are various dog breeds at risk of developing this condition. Septic arthritis has shown to be more common in male dogs between the age of 4- 7 years of age. The following 3 breeds are prone to developing the condition are:

Symptoms to watch out for

The following symptoms normally develop if your dog is suffering from the condition.

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Pain
  • Lethargic 
  • Swollen joints 
  • Joint sore to touch 
  • Lameness
  • Dog unable to flex or move joint

Possible causes

This condition can develop for a variety or reasons, which are the following:

  • Fungal infections
  • Bite from another animal or dog
  • Injury after surgery 
  • Bacterial infections 

If a dog was to develop septic arthritis they normally show signs of lameness which will indicate that something serious is wrong. This is when the dog should be taken to the vet where they will need the dog's full history and explanation as to when the dog first started to show the symptoms. The vet will then conduct a full examination of the dog to look for further signs of the condition.

Normally they will carry out the following tests:

  • Full biochemistry blood profile
  • full blood count
  • X-rays of affected joint
  • Urinalysis
  • Arthroscopy - this allows the vet a full examination of the interior joint  


After the vet has given their diagnosis, they will then follow up with a preferred treatment plan to help fight the condition. Normally, dogs suffering from septic arthritis would be given a course of antibiotics. If the dog is suffering from a severe case they may have to stay at the veterinary hospital where the vet will begin a course of treatment with cleaning and draining the infection.

Recognising and treating this condition early on will help speed up the recovery process. Recovery also depends on how well the dog is able to fight off the infection and their health before contracting the infection. Usually, the prognosis is good and the vet will request regular check--ups to see how the dog is getting on after treatment and whether the infection is still present.

Whilst the dog recovers from septic arthritis they must not endure vigorous exercise, which will also mean limiting their long walks. To help ease the inflammation the vet will recommend placing a hot, then cold compress on the affected joint to help reduce the swelling. Any medication that the vet prescribes is important that the dog is given and the course is completed. Plenty of rest and some TLC should also help ease your dogs suffering.


Dog Advice Arthritis In Dogs

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