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Joint Infection

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  • Joint Infection

    When you suspect you horse has a joint infection?

    After relaying the most recent update on Gus to my vet (see my last thread regarding "When do you stop" or something along those lines) she's wondering if he is having some sort of infection due to the joint injections.

    We're upping his bute to two grams/daily and are going to start monitoring his temperature. Unfortunately for me, I've never really kept track of what is "normal" for Gus... reading that thread regarding horse's temperatures kinda hits home. I think I'll start a log of that too now, taking both boys temps monthly.

    His stifles seem slightly swollen... but that's not terribly unusual for him. And there wasn't any heat yesterday when I was out either.

    Just curious what you look for when/if you suspect an infection. Vet is on her way out of town for a week (first vacation in 4 years) and said she will refer me to the specialist if needed. Really don't (and can't) afford to haul him down there AND take the time off from work. Not doable... plus I don't own a truck or trailer, so have to pay to have someone haul him also.

    We're putting him on stall rest through Wednesday, til I can get out there again, and we'll go from there. The vet is always extremely diligent regarding keeping the injection site clean. It's a two man job and they probably spend 5 minutes on each leg with the betadine stuff... so I'm not worried about it being a sloppy prep. Just worried if it is something more then the obvious (ie Gus being an idiot the day after his injections and running around at Mach10).

    Any suggestions or thoughts are appreciated. As always.
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
    See G2's blog

  • #2
    If a joint infection is suspected, I would just go ahead and treat the horse with antibiotics (Excenel).

    When my Ziggy mare got a joint infection it was pretty obvious; seemed fine coming in the barn at 4:30, but by 9:30 when I took her out to roll before feeding..she could hardly walk and that joint was extremely hot and swollen. The injury that spawned the infection had been a very tiny nick two weeks before that hadn't shown any heat or swelling previously, but vet figures there must have been a splinter involved.

    That is my only (knock wood) experience with joint infections though...so maybe they can be more moderate?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


    • Original Poster

      Well, at this time we aren't suspecting a joint infection, rather it's just something we are ruling out (as to why he's still very much lame after injections when this is normally not the case).

      Glad to hear that it wasn't too bad with your mare. Gus tends to be overly dramatic about everything so I'm really hoping that isn't the case this time around.
      Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
      See G2's blog


      • #4
        It sounds more like what we call a flare. We've seen that sometimes if the jt is allowed to get too sore before injections. Joint infections from IA injections are pretty easily recognized by a vet as there is quite a bit of heat & swelling 24 hrs post injection. The time period is a crucial indicator. There is also a high level of pain often exhibited by non wt bearing lameness. Those signs would be a life threatening situation requiring urgent vet treatment. Fortunately, Gus may simply have over done it by running around but it's always wise to check with your vet for advice.


        • #5
          Actually AppyChick, my mare died as a result of the surgery to repair the joint. It was pretty bad. Not something to take lightly at all. But, I don't think your horse fits that same profile.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


          • Original Poster

            Well, he's now comfortably on stall rest. Temp last night was 99.5, although now we are doing AM temp checks. His stifles were not at all warm to the touch, or at least nothing noticeably different from the rest of his body.

            The vet's assistant/receptionist called me this morning just to follow up with Gus. I told her I'd be calling if we needed a referral, but right now he seems to be resting comfortably, or so I'm told.
            Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
            See G2's blog


            • #7
              Its pretty easy for a vet to come out and pull joint fluid and check it for signs of infection. If it is suspected at all you need to jump on it quick. The systemic temperature of the horse will often not be elevated if there is a joint infection because it is isolated to the joint capsule. Oral antibiotics will often not work, you need intraarticular antibiotics. Any small infection to a joint is serious and can damage the joint for life since joints have very little innate immune protection. If you suspect infection at all you need to have a vet come out and pull joint fluid.