A challenging case: Getting to the source of a dog's chronic spinal pain - Veterinary Medicine
  • SEARCH:
Medicine Center
DVM Veterinary Medicine Featuring Information from:

ADVERTISEMENT

A challenging case: Getting to the source of a dog's chronic spinal pain
After the owner's decision to discontinue treatment too soon, this dog's lumbosacral pain and subsequent lameness took a lot of time, testing, and additional treatment to get under control.


VETERINARY MEDICINE


Conclusion

Brucella canis is a relatively common cause of canine diskospondylitis, and a diagnosis of brucellosis is associated with many clinical challenges. Although B. canis infection associated with diskospondylitis has been well-documented in the literature, actual reports of cases and their associated management have been minimal and brief, and detailed case management has not been reported in almost 20 years.38,39 Much has been reported since that time regarding the pathophysiology of B. canis infection, its zoonotic potential, and the difficulties associated with treating individual family-owned pet dogs.

Determining the causative organism in cases of canine diskospondylitis is essential because of the zoonotic potential and treatment difficulties associated with brucellosis. It is important to use a combination of diagnostic modalities, including cultures, serologic tests, and clinical findings. Treatment for B. canis infections should only be undertaken with the understanding that a cure should not be expected, long-term antimicrobials will be required, and recrudescence of infection is common. The dog in this case continued to have active diskospondylitis lesions even after several months of continuous antimicrobial therapy.

On histologic examination, this dog had dramatic testicular and epididymal damage despite a complete lack of clinical abnormalities of the reproductive tract. This emphasizes the need for early castration of male dogs if treatment is a consideration. Neutering infected dogs is recommended to reduce the risk of transmission to other dogs and people, remove potential reservoirs of infection, and resolve clinical abnormalities (e.g. orchitis, epididymitis).14 An additional point of interest in this case is the late development of radiographic signs of diskospondylitis. Presumably, the spinal pain in this dog that the owner had observed for the eight months before presentation was due to B. canis infection, yet the development of radiographic signs of bone lysis was delayed long past that usually associated with other bacterial causes of diskospondylitis. Typically, radiographic changes become evident within three weeks after the onset of clinical signs.1

Always consider brucellosis in dogs with clinical signs compatible with diskospondylitis. When present, the variety of systemic clinical manifestations associated with B. canis infection can help to increase the index of suspicion for canine brucellosis. As this case illustrates, however, the presence and clinical detectability of these systemic abnormalities are highly variable and should not be used to rule out B. canis infection.

Eric C. Ledbetter, DVM
Department of Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-6401

Sharon C. Kerwin, DVM, MS, DACVS
Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4457

Joanne K. Mansell, DVM, MS, DACVP
Department of Pathobiology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4457

George A. Henry, DVM, DACVR*
Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4457

*Current address: Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996


ADVERTISEMENT

Source: VETERINARY MEDICINE,
Click here