In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, we demonstrate how to perform a joint tap in a dog. This is a relatively simple procedure, that can be easily performed by veterinarians under sedation using aseptic technique. This should be done in any patient with joint swelling, especially if Lyme disease has been ruled out. Before just routinely putting a dog on prednisone and doxycycline, a joint tap should be performed to rule out immune-mediated joint disease (IMJD) versus other underlying causes (e.g., septic joint, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.). That’s because the treatment will be markedly different depending on the underlying etiology. Remember to look at that cytology in-house before you submit it for fluid analysis and culture. Typically, with IMJD, neutrophilic inflammation is seen on cytology.

Interested in learning more? Check out VETgirl ELITE, a subscription-based podcast, webinar & video service where you get over 24+ hours of RACE-approved online veterinary CE a year!

  1. Our granddog is, as we speak, undergoing arthrocentesis. After the first vet we took her to couldn’t find anything wrong we took her to a second who recommended a specialist to tap into the joints and get joint fluid samples to see if she has autoimmune polyarthritis. Hopefully, if that indeed is what’s wrong, steroids will help her and maybe even “cure” her so she won’t have to be on long term steroid therapy.

Only VETgirl members can leave comments. Sign In or Join VETgirl now!