Case Study: canine arthritis, osteomyelitis

Submitted by: Joyce Harman, DVM, February 28, 2018

PATIENT INFORMATION Sunny - Female Spayed, Australian Shepard Mix, 13.5 years old

SUMMARY: Transdermal CO2 was used as a primary therapy for generalized arthritis and specific left hip and left elbow arthritis post septicemia and osteomyelitis. She improved after each treatment and has gained mobility and strength. The improvements in mobility and flexibility are noticed by the day after each treatment

CASE HISTORY: Sunny has some generalized arthritis seen on radiographs taken in the summer of 2018. Additionally, she had severe degeneration of the left hip and the left elbow after an infection and osteomyelitis in those joints in November.  

TREATMENT: Sunny is treated about once every week to two weeks from early January to February 2019 with transdermal CO2. Her hindquarters and left front leg were placed in a plastic sleeve with a one-way valve. The air was evacuated from the bag and sealed with Vetrap®. CO2 was added to the bag through the valve and allowed to sit for 20 minutes. Sunny has been on joint supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin and cannabinoids) for the last two years.

RESULTS: The day after each treatment Sunny was noticeably improved. This was demonstrated by increased energy, more playing with her toys and her being more willing to trot rather than walk carefully. After the end of January treatment, she stretched down on her front legs for the first time since her osteomyelitis. She has continued to stretch both her front and rear legs more each week. 

After about 6 weeks of treatments she can trot up hill and is willing to go for walks into the woods. She can walk over a mile each day and volunteers to go exploring around the property where before she would only walk to get from one place to another. 

DISCUSSION: The type of arthritis seen post osteomyelitis can be very difficult to resolve. This dog also had some generalized arthritis before the illness. The transdermal CO2 has made a noticeable improvement in her gait after each treatment. The improvement stays and does not fade over 1-2 weeks. Each subsequent treatment adds mobility and comfort. 

The joint supplements she had been on before the illness were helpful to her generalized arthritis in the past but were not enough to improve her comfort afterwards. She remains on the joint supplements due to the amount of damage, but they do not appear to be adding to her comfort in the same way the CO2 is. 

SUMMARY: Transdermal CO2 was used to treat arthritis in an older dog with both generalized arthritis and degenerative joint disease from osteomyelitis in the left hip and left elbow. Each treatment improved her mobility and flexibility. There was no loss of effect between treatments. The CO2 has been more effective than the joint supplements she has been given. This case demonstrates the usefulness of transdermal CO2 in a variety of arthritis conditions in dogs.