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Whippet Health

a resource for whippet owners & breeders

Immune Mediated Polyarthritis


This is a disease of the joints where the immune system  attacks the articular surfaces of the joints causing an inflammatory response. It has two distinct types, erosive which is the more damaging of the two and non-erosive

The non-erosive form is the most common and can be associated with Systemic Lupus

An accurate vaccine history is important as this form of Immune disease can follow vaccination

It can also be associated with serious infection, intestinal disease and some cancers


Symptoms include:


Reluctance to move



High temperature

Lack of appetite

Lameness...which can be shifting

Swelling of the joints can be present

Pain on opening mouth

Painfull swollen joints - often affects the same joints in the left and right limbs.

In some cases the joint dislocates because local ligaments rupture, and so there is an excessive range of movement

Crepitus (a grating sensation and clicking or cracking sound) is present when the joints are manipulated


The severity of the disease may vary from stiffness to a complete inability to stand or walk



Veterinary treatment is a matter of urgency if you suspect your dog may have polyarthritis.

Diagnosis by your vet will involve many tests to determine the type of polyarthritis and the possible causes.


Treatment will depend on the cause, spontaneous recovery is possible with vaccine reactions, in most other cases  high initial dose steroids will be prescribed . Recovery is usually rapid but relapses are common and the dog may need a lifelong maintenance dose of steroids. If this maintenance dose is unacceptably high to control the disease then other immunosuppressing drugs may be used


This is a difficult disease both to diagnose and treat, especially if the dog requires lifelong steroid treatment, the side effects of these need to be managed too. The idea to give the lowest dose that  controls the symptoms  while maintaining the best quality of life possible.


A specialist vet experienced in this field can be invaluable in treating your affected whippet.


Depending on which form of polyarthritis the dog has, other symptoms may be present:

Dermatitis, Glomerulonephritis (kidney disease), Meningitis, Myositis, Thrombocytopenia, Anaemia

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