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Very sore knee in a puppy

This is Douglas, a nine month old Labrador puppy. He went to bed the other night absolutely fine and woke up in the morning holding up his right hind leg. It was too sore to put to the ground. Puppies are high risk for growth plate injuries of the knee so Dr Jill took an xray immediately.

Although this xray looks strange, the bones are all very normal for a puppy. What it does show is an increase in joint fluid in he knee called a joint effusion.

Our visiting specialist surgeon, Dr Eugene Buffa examined Douglas and he was sedated and prepared for a joint tap. Dr Eugene happened to be at Pittwater for another surgery.

Douglas’s knee was surgically prepared and Dr Eugene inserted a needle into the joint removing an abnormal yellow fluid. (Joint fluid is usually clear.)

Under the microscope this fluid was filled with neutrophils. These are white blood cells that make up infected fluid (pus).

Douglas was immediately started on intravenous fluids and intravenous antibiotics. An infection could cause significant damage to his young joint resulting in lifelong lameness. Douglas had three doses of intravenous antibiotics in the afternoon. By the next morning he was walking perfectly normally on his leg.

One more day in hospital on intravenous antibiotics and Douglas was ready to send home with oral antibiotics. We are awaiting results on what bacteria caused the problem, but his response to treatment has been spectacular.

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