Jump to section

What is Bone Infection?

 Bone infections occur when a bacterial or fungal infection occurs in the bone or bone marrow, referred to as osteomyelitis. This can happen directly in the bone after a fracture or surgical event, or it can be spread to the bone by the bloodstream from an infection in another part of the body. The infection causes inflammation of the bone and surrounding tissues. Your pet might not show any sign of bone infection for some time before symptoms occur, making it likely for the infection to be severe by the time it is diagnosed. If you believe your cat may have a bone infection, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Medical treatment will be required to get rid of the infection, and the sooner treatment begins the better the result for your pet. In some cases, bone infections will require surgery or amputation to treat. Treatments may require several weeks of hospitalization.

Bone Infection Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Bone Infection in Cats

A bone infection can cause a variety of symptoms in your cat, the most common being lameness or favoring of a limb, apathetic behavior or listlessness, and fever. In cases which the infection has spread to the bone or bone marrow from another part of the body, your pet may exhibit other localized symptoms related to the infection. It is also possible for your cat to have general symptoms of infection like breathing difficulty, runny nose or eyes, fever, or vomiting and diarrhea. 

Symptoms Include:

  •  Lameness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Apathy or depression
  • Ulcers or lesions 
  • Limb pain
  • Stiffness or arthritis 
  • Reluctance to use the limb
  • Wasting or pulling back of muscles
  • Limb swelling
  • Joint swelling
  • Lack of appetite and anorexia
  • Pus or oozing from wound site or soft tissues

Types

Bone infection can be caused by an acute or sudden, short-term infection or by a chronic, long-term condition. Types of bone infection include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Bone Infection in Cats

A bone or bone marrow infection is most commonly caused by bacteria or fungus that has entered the body through normal means of transmission like ingestion, exposure to other sick animals, or through a wound. Once the germs are in your cat’s system, they can be transported through the blood to infect other parts of the body, including the bones. The infection gets into the bone and marrow, causing inflammation and pain, resulting in your cat’s symptoms. 

Some common causes that lead to bone infection include:

  • Injuries – from fracture, trauma, or bites and claw wounds
  • Post-surgery or implant 
  • Soft tissue infection
  • Dental infection
  • Other infections 
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Bone Infection in Cats

Your veterinarian will use a combination of techniques to verify that bone infection is causing your cat’s issues. Be prepared to discuss your pet’s medical history and any symptoms you’ve observed in detail. This will help identify risk factors, like recent wounds, other infections, or chronic conditions, which point to a bone infection. A physical examination will be completed, and your veterinarian may require X-ray or other imaging to pinpoint the location and severity of the infection. A variety of diagnostic tests will also be required to identify the source of the infection so an appropriate treatment plan can be created. Blood and urine analysis will occur, and veterinary staff may also take samples of any pus or drainage. Bone marrow aspiration or a bone biopsy may be required to identify the infection source if other methods are not successful.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Bone Infection in Cats

Treatment methods will vary depending on several factors, including if the infection is acute or chronic, its location, its severity, and the type of organism causing it. If your cat’s bone infection is secondary to another infection or a wound then additional treatments will be required to manage that condition. Your veterinarian may begin some treatments, like antibiotics, even before the exact organism causing the infection has been identified. Common treatments for bone infection include:

Antibiotics:

In bacterial infections, antibiotics will be administered to destroy the bacteria and allow the immune system to focus on healing. Antibiotic treatments may continue for several weeks to resolve the issue. Bone infections are often slow to heal, and resistant bacteria make it even more difficult. Your pet may be given more than one type of antibiotic during the course of their treatment. 

Debridement:

Draining, flushing, and removing dead tissue will be required to help rid your cat’s body of infection and speed the healing process. This may require surgical intervention if there is no other way to open the affected area. This is a routine process with a low risk to your pet. 

Analgesics:

Used to reduce and control pain and inflammation, these drugs will be used to make your cat comfortable while undergoing other treatment. Your veterinarian will choose the appropriate dose for your pet to reduce risk. 

Surgery or Amputation:

If damage is severe, surgical methods might be required to control the issue and repair damage. In cases where there is a large amount of bone loss and tissue damage, amputation of the affected limb may be the safest and surest course of action. 

Intravenous (IV) Fluids:

Symptoms like lack of appetite and lethargy can lead to additional health concerns. IV fluids are a routine way to help maintain hydration and can also be used to provide medication and nutrients to your pet during treatment.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Bone Infection in Cats

Your pet’s prognosis will be dependent on numerous factors. If treatment is successful, your pet will need additional support after they return home. Immobilization of the affected limb may be required for a short period, and restricted movement will be necessary for several weeks. Make sure your cat has a safe, comfortable place to rest and recuperate. Place food, water, and their litter box in close proximity so they don’t have to go far to get what they need. In some cases, your pet may need caged to reduce movement. Follow all your veterinarian’s instructions, being sure to finish the full course of antibiotics and return for any required follow-up visits. Nutrition also plays an important role in healing so ensure your pet has access to healthy food. 

If your cat required an amputation to treat their bone infection, you will need to provide extra support until they have adjusted to their new limitations. Avoid lifestyle changes while your pet adapts. Most animals are able to learn to function with a missing limb fairly quickly. Ensure that the amputation site and any surgical incisions are properly cleaned and cared for. Return your pet to the veterinarian immediately if you see any signs of infection such as spreading redness, pus or oozing, or a foul smell. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Bone Infection Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

arrow-up-icon

Top

Bone Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Gus

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

12 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling, Painful Front Leg

My kitten Gus, recently had his hind leg amputated due to severe infection that didn’t respond to numerous antibiotics, despite culture and sensitivity results. He was doing great the first week and suddenly had a swollen right leg, painful and fever. The vet drained half a CC of pus from around the joint and sent it for culture. We restarted Rifampin and pain meds. The culture showed “no growth” but she suggested continuing the medication for another 2 days. The leg continues to look great, no swelling or pain. Now the right front leg is swelling and painful since last night. He’s not as playful today but is eating very well. I am at a loss as to what is happening. The vet is closed today but we are having his sutures removed tomorrow and can’t wait to see her. Do you have any ideas what this is?

Sept. 3, 2018

Gus' Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Gus

dog-breed-icon

Dlh

dog-age-icon

8 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My daughter found a very small kitten limping along the side of a highway. He has an open wound on top of his back foot and was very skinny. She took him to a vet right away and was started on Clavamox. He returned to the vet a few days later for culture as the infection was moving up his leg. The culture showed a form of MRSA and started on a different antibiotic, sulfamet-tmp. He has been on this for 10 days, also soaking twice daily in chlorahexadine solution and ssd cream. The wounds are still weeping and now has a very swollen hock. Another X-ray taken today has the vet concerned the infection may be in the bone! He is eating very well and has put on over 1 lb in 3 weeks! He’s playful and very curious but we are concerned the infection may not be responding to this antibiotic? Any advice would be welcome as we love this little guy already! Thank you!

July 14, 2018

Gus' Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It can take time for signs of improvement in cases of MRSA and bone infections can be quite severe, if the culture and sensitivity showed sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim to be effective in vitro then it would be the best course of action. It is a case of monitoring for improvement, but in some cases amputation may be indicated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 15, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Pumpkin

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lame, Tooth Infection

My female grey calico was just to our local vet on Friday for dental problems. She has had an infected tooth for approximately 3 weeks. She refuses to let me look in her mouth. I looked briefly a week and a half ago and saw nothing. I took her to the vet Friday and she has an infected tooth. She weighs 13.6 pounds. They gave her Clindamycin drops 2ml every 12 hours. I started the medication Saturday at 4am. She had a dose Saturday at 4pm and again Sunday 4am. I got home today and notice that she is extremely stiff in her hip area. She usually jumps very high very easily. She couldn't even make it up onto our couch. She got into our window and I went to check on her, she was trembling. I assume it is from pain but do not know for sure. I gently picked her up and placed her in her usual sleeping box that has a blanket in it and she quit trembling. My question is, is this stiffness a side effect of the medication or is it possible that her tooth infection has spread? She was fine all day Saturday. Our local vet is closed on Sundays. If it is a medication issue I don't want to keep giving it to her.

May 13, 2018

Pumpkin's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Typically side effects of clindamycin drops are gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea which may cause some abdominal pain but shouldn’t cause any hind limb issues preventing Pumpkin from jumping on a sofa. Continue with the treatment for the time being and monitor her for any improvement as well as keeping her rested in her box. If there is no improvement by Monday morning, pop into your Veterinarian for a check up. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Penny

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

14 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Sneezing
Watery Eyes
Left Foot Lameness/Favoritism

I just adopted a cat a little over a year old. She is lame on one foot, positive for feline leukemia and has several healing wounds. One vet said her foot was due to a healing fracture and didn’t want to rebreak it. My vet said it could be septic arthritis or a bone fungus. I am having the X-rays sent off for another opinion. Her left eye waters regularly and she sneezes (I do have a cockatoo and she’s only been in my house one week) I have the X-rays on my phone and I can upload them. Can you please take a look and see what you think? Also can my new cat infect my dogs or birds?!? My vet said no but I need to make sure I’m not endangering my entire house!!

May 11, 2018

Penny's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Without examining Penny, I"m not sure that I can comment on what might be going on with her, but having the x-rays sent off for a second opinion is a good idea. They should be able to distinguish between a resolving fracture or a bone infection. It may be a wait and see situation, and recheck x-rays in a few weeks to compare whether it is healing or not, as well. Any viral problems that she has with her watering eye and sneezing will not affect your dogs or birds. I hope that she recovers well and has a good life with you, she sounds like she has had a rough start!

May 11, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Silver

dog-breed-icon

Blue Russian

dog-age-icon

18 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lump / Mass On His Cheekbone

My cat Silver was diagnosed with a infection that wore on the bone he had blood work showed he has a mass the xray showed he had a infection that wore on the bone the biopsy showed no cancer cells that got sent off for further testing that was inconclusive he had a xray on his upper teeth only that showed that there's no longer a infection his 3 Rd eye is mostly down but he still has the lump / mass on his left cheekbone that usually keeps getting bigger when he finishes complete doses of antibiotics . I'm waiting for the test results from the glass slide that gathered some of the stuff that was coming from his left eye & I'm waiting for the other test from the aspiration test results . Please HELP UGH IVE BEEN WAITING TO FINALLY FIND OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM AFTER ABOUT SPENDING $1200.00 IN ABOUT TWO MONTHS I CAN'T TAKE THE WAITING FOR A ANSWER FINALLY UGH !!

March 8, 2018

Silver's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

I understand your frustration but without examining Silver, reviewing histopathology and other tests etc… I cannot say what the cause is or offer a practical plan for treatment. It is a case of waiting for the test results to come in and if necessary consult with a tele-medicine company like PetRays to offer a Specialist second opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petrays.com

March 8, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Ash

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Favoring Paw And Walking On Wrist

My baby is 2. He started limping on his right front paw. Was told he had an abscess on his middle toe and they could surgically removed it. During surgery it was found to be a bone spur which they removed. 6 months later started limping and favoring paw again. Took him back to vet. Xray showed no spur but the soft tissue at the end of same toe inflamed and hardened. Tried steroid shots didn't work so we amputated the toe. Now 4 months later he is favoring his paw again and walks more on his wrist then his foot. Vet said he has weak wrist and sent for an orthopedic consult. They think he snapped a tendon that runs to the foot making his wrist weak and unable to support his weight and that he is not in pain and do not recommend fixing because that tendon is small and doesn't fix well. THe only way to know for sure is MRI....which my vet doesn't do. Hafta go to specialist for that. Scared that this just might be same problem with his for spreading. Any other suggestions that this might be??? His appetite is normal and he still active just walking on wrist and favoring paw when he stops moving. Standing or sitting

dog-name-icon

Gigi

dog-breed-icon

Burmese

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My cat is diabetic and had nail problems as the nail was going inside the pads I took her to the vet they removed the nails but the back one they told me damaged her pad they gave me nothing to put on it told me it would heal 2 weeks later it started to bleed I wrapped it up called them they tell me put a baby sock on it with tape ok did it it got worse Took her to another vet that made sense to me she cleaned it wrapped it sent me home with antibiotics creme and pain meds 2 weeks it stopped bleeding and looked good but a week later the toe in the center was swollen called her went in and she said the bone was deteriorating and it might need amputation I was mortified She said she has to cut the 2 toes send them out for a culture to see what antibiotics to use for the bacteria the first one she said was not healing it is this right or not I am so confused is this necessary my cat is 11

dog-name-icon

Peanut

dog-breed-icon

Male

dog-age-icon

2 Days

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Limping Won’T Use Leg

My cat is 2 almost 3 years old he started limping around for about a week and a half took him to the vet they said he might of pulled a muscle 2 weeks went by he was is limping took him to a different vet they said he had a cancer tumor . I wanted to get a another opinion so I went back to the first vet will y’all there x rays and there saying they think it’s bone infection

dog-name-icon

Tibs

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Pain And Bone Deformity

My orange tabby cat Tibs is about 9.5 years old and we only adopted him 12 weeks ago, when his previous owner moved away. In early June (nearly 5 months ago) he underwent a right upper canine extraction and was treated with antibiotics at the time. Per the previous owner he's been healthy except for a diagnosis around age 2 of cystitis (FUS?) and has been on Purina Pro Plan Focus urinary tract formula. He is an indoor/outdoor cat, normally very healthy, lean with no skin issues, only an occasional left runny eye (not purulent). In the past week I noticed some unusual behavior of flinching when his right leg was petted, and one morning he hissed as if in pain when put down after being carried. 3 days ago he hissed when picked up from a patio chair to be brought inside for the night, and then was yowling and hissing and limping severely, then hiding behind the sofa. We took him to the ER, the vet examined him, noted a bony swelling on the inner right knee (approx 3-4 cm in diameter) with a suggestion of osteosarcoma, even though it is rare in cats. The ER vet provided 6 syringes of buprenorphine, after we opted to see our local vet in the morning for exam, Xrays, and labs. Here's what the neighborhood vet told us in an email: "The lab work was unremarkable and is attached. The radiograph review was interesting. The radiologists did not see bone destruction that is usually seen with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). The lesion shows bone production which can be associated with more benign or non-malignant processes (subperiosteal hematoma secondary to trauma or synovial osteochondromata). They highly recommend biopsy prior to considering amputation. Neither vet suggested osteomyelitis as a rule-out, but when I suggested it, citing his tooth extraction 5 mos ago, the local vet agreed it could be one possibility. We got more buprenorphine and also NSAID Onsior 6 mg, a 3 day supply, and recommended to f/u with a surgical consult. We're just trying to keep him comfortable in the house over the weekend. But I'm thinking of suggesting a course of antibiotics, to see if the swelling and pain diminishes, which may be more confirming of osteomyelitis, prior to doing an invasive and expensive biopsy. We've already spent nearly $1000. He has no other symptoms, his labs look good, and is eating well. What do you think?

dog-name-icon

Binks

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Sleepiness
Growth

Bone cancer /infection After x-rays vet told us it was cancer and after some second opinions now leaning toward bone infection, but I'm afraid it's being left in fear it might be the worst though his lump has reduced in size, he's eating fine and and now weight baring

Bone Infection Average Cost

From 455 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500