Treatments for Osteomyelitis in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that causes the inflammation of bone tissues such as marrow. Usually the result of staph bacteria, osteomyelitis is occasionally caused by other microorganisms like fungi. As with humans, symptoms in canines include fever, pain and swelling in the affected area, and lameness of affected limbs. The different treatments for osteomyelitis can be effective when used alone or in combination with each other.


Surgery is a common treatment for osteomyelitis, as it is the only way to completely remove any infected or dead tissue from the bone. Since the infection is often the result of an underlying bone condition such as a fracture or cysts, surgery can cure these problems as well. The affected bones usually require some structural repair after the tissue is removed.


Antibiotics kill the bacteria and microorganisms that can cause bone infections. Veterinarians prescribe a long-term regimen of oral antibiotics for dogs with osteomyelitis to eliminate any bacteria in the dog's body. Veterinarians also inject antibiotics directly into the site of the infection to quickly eradicate bacteria in the wound.


The dog's wound is drained to remove any infection that has built up inside the bone. The wound is then cleaned thoroughly and may be left open or closed with a tube inserted for continued drainage.

Additional Care

Additional care of a canine bone infection may involve limiting the dog's activity. For example, if the infection is the result of a fracture that remains unhealed, movement restriction is often required. Occasional X-rays will help monitor healing and determine if the infection returns.


Proper antimicrobial treatment combined with surgery may clear up the infection in 4 to 6 weeks, though the infection may take longer to resolve if the bone is fractured or badly damaged. Occasionally osteomyelitis is chronic, causing recurring infections in the bones that can appear years or only few weeks after treatment. Reoccurring bone infections call for more extensive surgical and long-term treatment.

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