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What is Bone Infection?

Osteomyelitis is an inflammation of the bone or bone marrow resulting from a bacterial or fungal infection. The inflammation can be either acute or chronic and typically spreads from other areas of the body, most often when infection is carried to the bone by the bloodstream. The source of the infection must be documented in order to determine proper treatment and care.

A bone infection, otherwise known as osteomyelitis, is an inflammation of the bone or bone marrow. This typically occurs as a result of contamination from a wound or fracture or is carried over from another part of the body. Osteomyelitis is considered a serious condition and must be addressed immediately.

Bone Infection Average Cost

From 257 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Bone Infection in Dogs

Depending on the location of the infection, symptoms of osteomyelitis may vary. Initial signs of bone infection include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

If a limb is affected by the inflammation, your dog may exhibit lameness or an inability to move the limb. As the infection spreads, additional symptoms may include:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Pus-filled discharge
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Causes of Bone Infection in Dogs

Osteomyelitis is caused by an infection, either bacterial or fungal, that permeates the bone or has traveled to the bone from another part of the body. A bacterial infection can be caused by any pathogenic bacteria and is most commonly a result of surgery or contamination from a wound, such as a bite wound or a bone fracture. Care is needed both during and following any surgery to prevent contamination. Fungal infections vary based on geographical distribution and are usually carried to the bone from another site.

Specific Causes
  • Area trauma
  • Fractures
  • Post-surgery
  • Prosthetic joint implantation
  • Open wounds
  • Wildlife wounds
  • Bite wounds
  • Claw wounds
  • Systemic infections reaching bones
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Diagnosis of Bone Infection in Dogs

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a bone infection, you will be asked to provide a complete history during an initial examination. This, combined with blood work and a urinalysis, allows the veterinarian to develop a more complete profile of your dog’s overall health. Evidence of infection may be revealed through blood cultures, deep fine-needle aspiration, a bone biopsy, or cytology, any of which may be recommended depending on your dog’s condition.

Lab work and further diagnostic tests, such as an x-ray, may be needed to reveal the location of the inflammation and make treatment more reliable. An ultrasound can provide a clearer image of the bones, allowing your veterinarian to determine the extent of the inflammation and the sites that need to be addressed. A culture of pus or other fluid around the infection site may be taken in order to identify the organism causing the infection, the result of which will help determine best treatment options.

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Treatment of Bone Infection in Dogs

Osteomyelitis may require multiple steps to treat, depending on the extent of the infection. There are two main options for treatment, though both require that the wound is cleaned and that pus is drained from the infected area. If the infection occurred as the result of a bone fracture, the bone will need to be stabilized, and dead fragments of bone may need to be surgically removed.

Medical Treatment

A vigorous course of antibiotics can address the source of the infection. Oral or injected antibiotics are typically required for the long term to ensure that the infection is entirely cleared out. Once the results of the culture have been returned, your veterinarian will be able to identify the antibiotics needed to treat the infection and to prevent it from growing. Antifungal medications can be prescribed for a fungal infection.

Surgical Treatment

Depending on the extent of the infection, surgery may be required to drain the affected area, debride the wound, and remove large portions of dead tissue surrounding the fracture. If the fracture is severe enough, your veterinarian may recommend the use of plates, pins, or screws to stabilize the bone. Unfortunately, due to the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the body, amputation may be necessary in order to save your dog’s life.

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Recovery of Bone Infection in Dogs

The recovery process for osteomyelitis can be a long one. If the original injury was severe, your dog may not be able to put any weight on the affected limb. The bone will need to be stabilized while it heals, which means that any activity must be restricted and that general movement will be limited. You should create a quiet, secure space for your dog to rest in while the fracture heals and limit the number of distractions that may cause anxiety or discomfort during this time.

Antibiotics will likely be administered throughout the healing process. You will need to bring your dog to your veterinarian for follow up examinations at set intervals to check your dog’s response to treatment and to monitor the healing process. X-rays and blood work may be repeated to ensure that the bone is stabilized and that the infection is resolving.

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Cost of Bone Infection in Dogs

A bone infection can usually be treated medically or surgically. Medically speaking, the wound would need to be cleaned and drained of pus. The veterinarian will usually prescribe injectable antibiotics which can cost between $15 and $38. If the cause of the bone infection is fungal then an antifungal medication would be prescribed. Ketoconazole 200mg usually costs $100 per 100 ct. If the bone infection is surrounding a fracture then it will need to be treated surgically. Once again, the wound would need to be cleaned and drained of pus. The veterinarian may need to remove large portions of the dead tissue in order to get to the fracture. This can cost between $1,500 and $2,250. Plates, pins or screws may be needed to stabilize the bone which can add an additional $500 to the bill. However, more often than not the infection is at risk of spreading throughout the body and causing death. In these cases the veterinarian will suggest amputation in order to save your dog’s life. Amputation usually costs between $400 and $900.

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Bone Infection Average Cost

From 257 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

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Bone Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Labrador Retriever

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8 months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

My dog has started antibiotics for a possible bone infection. He had a pin put in his leg 4 weeks ago from a fracture. He is on day 3 of the antibiotics. I can tell he is in a lot of pain and not using the leg. How soon should I be seeing an improvement?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Deep bone infections can take quite a while to resolve, and without knowing more about your dog's situation, it is hard for me to say if you should be noticing an improvement at this point. It would probably be best to call your veterinarian, let them know that he is still painful and not using the leg, and see if that is expected or not. I hope that all goes well and he feels better soon.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Dave

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Mix

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Post Op Left Tplo
Post Op Left Tplo, Bone Infection

We adopted our dog, Dave, as a pup from a rescue. He is a Lab/Great Dane (?) mix, weighs about 75 pounds and will be 5-years-old at the end of this year. Several months ago, he began limping on his RIGHT hind leg. We thought maybe he had strained it playing with his dog-brother and watched it for a few weeks. He did not improve, so our vet evaluated him and said he had torn the ligament and needed TPLO. Scheduled him for surgery and just prior to it, he began having difficulty with his LEFT hind leg and could barely walk. Vet checked him again and, sure enough, he had torn the LEFT ligament and it was actually worse than the RIGHT. So she did TPLO on the LEFT leg first. Well, I felt sorry for him and bought an inflatable donut collar for him instead of using a cone and he removed all of his staples while we slept. Took him into Vet and she said it actually looked clean and was healing well (specifically, the wound did not open when he pulled the staples), put more staples in and he continued his recovery. He was doing very well...lifting his RIGHT leg to urinate while standing on his operated LEFT...squatting to defecate...showing signs of wanting to play, etc. But about two weeks ago, he starting limping and walking funny on the LEFT leg again, so we took him in to have her check him. She said she thought he was fine, but needed to x-ray his leg, but couldn't until she got back from her 2-week vacation. He went for his x-ray today and she thinks he has an infection in the bone at the surgical site. After a lot of discussion, we decided she will remove his hardware next week (first available) and send a culture for identification of the infection. Will treat and clean it while she is in there. I'm very concerned about a couple of things and plan to call her tomorrow with my questions, but would like some input here. First, I'm concerned he may lose his leg. Second, we discussed starting him on an antibiotic today, but she said that might prevent her from getting a good culture from the bone while she's doing the surgery to remove the hardware. Third, the fact that he has had the infection for at least 3 weeks and his surgery is not scheduled until next week...will the infection become even worse and possibly cause life-threatening complications within another week? I'm not thrilled with this Vet for several reasons. *One being that she made sure to remind us 3 TIMES today that she is certain this infection wouldn't have developed had we not allowed Dave to remove his staples. *Another being that her clinic is filthy. *Has personal pet dog and cats wondering around EVERYWHERE (surgical suite included) during office ours and has a baby (grandchild?) being carried around the clinic or in a play yard/pen on the floor in the reception area. (I plan to anonymously [hopefully] report the conditions to the state board, but hoped to get Dave settled with surgery before I do.) We are new to this area and have struggled to find a vet we like here. We settled on this one to evaluate his leg injury and thought we'd get through this and then hopefully move on to someone we feet more comfortable with. Also, she is the only vet in our area who does this type of surgery on dogs, so we would have had to deal with her regardless. Thanks in advance for any info or just for listening. L.A.

Sept. 20, 2018

Dave's Owner

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yeska

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Rottweiler

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10 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I was told my rot has bone cancer due to acl surgery. It may be infection but vet is pushing towards the other way due to how much it has climbed on bone in X-ray. The stainless steel rope was the couse of the cancer/ infection. My rot will be 11 next month. If it is infection, does here leg need amputation or can we fix it? I will not amputate and put her through pain for me. I replaced acl surgery on other leg at 3yrs old on left, 10 yrs old on right.

June 4, 2018

yeska's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Yeska or being able to examine her and see her x-rays, I have no way of knowing what the best course of action might be. It is very unusual for an ACL surgery to develop cancer, and the two may be unrelated. One thing that your veterinarian may be able to do is to send those -rays out to a specialist, as that is quite a difference, deciding between infection and cancer.

June 5, 2018

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Luna

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Catahoula Cur

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6 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Tiredness
Limpness
Deteriorating Muscle.
Swelling On Knee

Luna had another dog grab her leg while she was in full stride. She started to limp and I waited for a couple of days to see if it would get better. It did not and I took her to the vet, they did a shelf test and said it fills like it is a tear in her pcl and that the surgery will cost $2,000. I was in college at the time and didnt have the money so i opted out of getting a x-ray since the vet was pretty confident it was a tear. So I followed the vets orders to keep her off of it for 8-12 weeks to heal. I moved back home after graduating and it never got better. Then out of nowhere she it started swelling up on the same knee. Took her to see the vet and got it x-ray. Her bone has thinned out and the doctor said it looked like cancer or could be osteomyelitis so I took pictures of the x-ray and he said that he doesnt think that she will have full mobility in that leg if it is osteomyelitis and suggest amputating the leg

May 18, 2018

Luna's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It may be worth getting a second opinion from an orthopedic surgeon before taking that drastic step, given Luna's history of a probable cruciate rupture. Your veterinarian may be correct, but it never hurts to have an opinion from a specialist in situations like this. I hope that everything goes well for her.

May 18, 2018

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Duke

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Boxer Shepherd

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Poor Appetite
Discomfort
Smell

My dog was hit by a car. Got a fractured femur. We did the ortho surgery and placed a rod through the femur bone. One week ago we went back to the vet as it seemed his rod was rubbing into his leg too much causing a wound. They stated he was fine. However for about a week he has had a foul odor coming from the wound, smelling like dead fish. It is leaking a tanish colored discharge from the area. Not sure what could be going on. He is not eating and is no longer using the leg at all.

May 11, 2018

Duke's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Duke needs to have a recheck as soon as possible for that leg, whether it is with your veterinarian, or for a second opinion. From your description, the bone may be infected, and he will need treatment as soon as possible. I hope that he is okay.

May 11, 2018

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Chablis

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French Bulldog

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy Fever No Appetite

I just had my frenchie in for two different surgeries June 11. One was a mass cell tumor on her stomach they removed and said it hadn’t spread. So that was good news! The other was due to periodontal disease which is common in frenchies and they removed quite a few teeth, had an an easy, and one wasn’t looking good so they sent it off to a lab. Results came back now they have her only on 150mg of clindamycin twice a day for osteomyelitis. She is not the same. I’m not sure if it’s the antibiotics or if it’s spread. She keeps hiding in dark places, not eating much again, and just wants to lay next to me and sleep if not in her kennel, under my bed, or in my closet hiding under my hanging clothes. Should I get a second opinion or do I go back to my vet. I feel like she is in pain and I’d rather her be back on pain meds too if it will help her feel better. She currently feels hot, very lethargic, and has been acting scared. The vet has already cost me $1876. She is 10 years old. I do not want to put her through anymore stress. I thought maybe she’s been depressed bec I haven’t done much with her, but after her surgeries I was told she needs to be in a quiet space as her kennel that she loves or in a room and keep it dark and quiet. So she has been lying on the floor next to my bed or in my bed half the time. She will go outside for a bit when needed, but not for long. Any suggestions or has snyone have dogs with this osteomyleitis due to periodontal disease? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/bone-infection

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Charlie

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Golden Retriever Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

Charlie was slightly less energetic than normal for a week. Ran bloodwork, fecal, urinalysis. All normal. Continued to be less energetic. Vet did RADs and identified a suspicious spot on his vertebrae and potentially nodules on his lungs. Vet is suspect it is cancer with lung mets. Have not done a work up to identify a primary tumor. Dog continued to decline. Vet put him on steroids and a pain med and he rebounded for a day but is back to just laying around. Will get up to go out and is eating, drinking and going to the bathroom normally, but otherwise just laying around. Dog was diagnosed as lyme positive a year ago. Tried doxycycline for 5 days and galliprant for possible osteoarthritis for 5 days and no noticeable improvement.

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Emma

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English Setter

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Our dog had a CT scan of her scapula. Prelimary indications are bone cancer, there are porous areas. We are waiting for biopsy results. My question is how accurate is a CT for determining the difference between cancer and infection?

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Roxy

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black labradore retriever

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Some Limping, Swollen Hock Joint

I am searching for answers about my black lab. She is 12 years old but has always been very energetic. Not laid back like a lot of labs. Gets very overstimulated easily. Anyway, she had many ear infections and skin infections so a year and half to a couple of years ago I switched her to a grain free diet. Things got better, no more ear infections, however she started to get staph skin infections every few months or so over the last year and half or two. She would do rounds of antibiotics and I would bathe her in antimicrobial shampoos and topicals. In the last year or a bit longer she started limping a bit or not bearing all of her weight on her right rear leg. The vet said he thought she was developing degenerative myelopathy. She would hesitate when he would flip her foot under. Probably about 4-6 months ago I noticed her right rear hock joint was looking large and abnormal. Her last bout of staph was about a month ago so we got more antibiotics and some thyroid medicine to try. I had the vet check out her leg again and he said it was probably something superficial because she did not mind him flexing it, manipulating it or pushing on it. Last week I noticed she was holding leg up more than usual so I took her in to get checked again and another vet at the office examined her leg and said she did not think it was cancer because it was in the joint , it felt fluidy and it didnt bother her when she pushed , manipulated it and flexed it. She decided to do an xray and came back and said it was bone cancer. I couldn't believe it. They gave me the option of amputation and chemo or just pain management with medication and a mean life span of 3 months. My girl is going to be 13 next month and I just cant see putting her through all of that and the expense. The last couple of days I have been reading on the internet and trying to find other things it could be. I keep going back to the recurrent staph infections and wondered if it could possibly be a bone infection. I want to get as much information as possible before going back to the vet. thank you

Bone Infection Average Cost

From 257 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

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