Suppurative, nonseptic polyarthropathy in dogs

Mark P. Rondeau, Raquel M. Walton, Sally Bissett, Kenneth J. Drobatz, Robert J. Washabau

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42 Scopus citations


The goals of this study were to determine the historical, physical examination, and clinicopathologic findings in dogs with suppurative, nonseptic polyarthropathy and to identify concurrent disorders associated with this syndrome. Medical records of 52 dogs with cytologic evidence of suppurative inflammation in two or more joints were examined retrospectively. Age of dogs was 4.8 years (median, range: 0.5-12 years). There was no clear breed or sex predilection, but most were large-breed dogs (body weight ≥ 20 kg [44.4 lbs] in 40/52). Body temperature was 103.0°F (39.4°C) (median, range: 100.0-105.9°F), with 29 of 52 dogs having a body temperature ≥ 103°F (39.4°C). Lameness was identified in 42 of 52 dogs. Erosive changes were found in only 1 of 37 dogs that had radiography performed. A clear underlying disease process was not identified in 34 of 52 dogs. Seven dogs had evidence of infectious or inflammatory processes at extra-articular sites; 4 dogs were diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); 2 dogs had gastrointestinal disease; 2 dogs had been vaccinated within 1 month before onset of polyarthritis; 1 dog had cancer; 1 dog had polyarthritis and meningitis; and 1 dog had erosive polyarthritis. Of the 44 dogs tested, 25 had antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, detected by an ELISA assay, which was significantly greater than the general hospital population (P = .007). Antibodies against Rickettsia rickettsiae and Ehrlichia canis were not definitively identified in the sera of any dog tested in this study (45 and 44 dogs, respectively). We conclude that an underlying disease process is not identified in most cases of suppurative polyarthropathy in dogs and that intestinal disease, neoplasia, and SLE are uncommon causes of polyarthritis. While seropositivity against the causative agent of Lyme disease was common and possibly a cause of polyarthritis in some dogs of our study, evidence of other vector-borne infection was not identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-662
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Canine
  • Immune-mediated polyarthritis
  • Lyme disease
  • Polyarthritis


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