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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 16207
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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I have a lamb approx 12 months old with swollen front knees

Customer Question

hi I have a lamb approx 12 months old with swollen front knees and a swollen rear foot. Only one of about 50 lambs. Doesn't seem to be very bothered but doesn't move too well. What should I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
Based on his stiffness and multiple joints affected, we'd be most concerned about joint ill in this lamb. The foot swelling could be traumatic and unrelated but with simultaneous joint signs, we'd have to be wary that this is an abscess (perhaps even the source of the infection).
Now without a culture of the joint fluid for the bacterial agent, we cannot really say what bacteria is present and therefore what antibiotic is appropriate. This is because there are a wide variety of bacteria that can migrate into the joints and cause a disease of this nature. That said, we tend to base our treatment from knowledge of what bacteria most often causes this condition and what drugs they will respond to. And in the case of joint ill, the most common culprits are E. coli and mycoplasmas. With these culprits in mind, we do find that Penicillin or Oxytetracycline are good broad spectrum antibiotic choices for this situation and can help against the infection. Most feed stores will carry at least the Penicillin OTC and therefore you can consider initiating treatment with that this point. Treatment tends to be until the signs have resolved (possibly a week for mild cases that are caught early), but do note that we can see long lasting damage to the joints if the infection is not settled quickly.
Of course, if you wanted to definitively diagnose the infectious agent present or if it didn’t respond to our broad spectrum treatment, then you could have your vet collect a sample of joint fluid to send to the lab. The lab can culture the bacteria, identify it, and test what drugs it is sensitive to. That way you will know what is causing the disease and which drug will be best to clear it.
Finally, since sounds to have reduced extension, you can gently
massage and flex/extend the joint to help him maintain a good range of motion. As well, you can consider warm compressing his joint can help reduce swelling and stiffness. To make a safe warm compress, you can do so by filling a sock with uncooked rice, microwaving it for a few minutes, shaking it to distribute the heat and then apply to the sore limb as needed.
Overall, with the swelling affecting more then one joint in this lamb, we'd be most concerned about bacterial infection within the joint. Therefore, we'd want to take the above approach at this stage to address those signs and settle this as quickly as possible for him.
I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.
All the best,
Dr. B.