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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)




Condition Overview

Bacterial contamination and subsequent infection is a hazard whenever a bone is exposed.


Signs of acute osteomyelitis are excessive pain, lameness, fever, and swelling. In dogs with chronic osteomyelitis there is an intermittent purulent discharge through the sinus tracts connecting the bone to the skin.


This occurs most often with open fractures. Other causes are gunshot wounds and animal bites that become infected and progress to adjacent bone. In rare cases, osteomyelitis is caused by blood-borne bacteria or fungi. This occurs in dogs receiving chemotherapy and those suffering from illnesses that impair immunity.


The diagnosis is confirmed by X-rays and a culture of the bone.


Bone infection is a most difficult problem to treat. It is essential to remove all devitalized bone and leave the wound open for daily dressing changes and wound irrigation. Bacterial cultures of the infected bone aid in selecting appropriate antibiotics.

Osteomyelitis associated with non-healing fractures is treated by stabilizing the fracture with plates and screws and implanting a sterile bone graft.


Take all seriously injured pets to a veterinarian for immediate attention. This will help to reduce the chance of serious bone infection.


Please contact your veterinarian for more information regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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