Severe Leg Wound and Sepsis Healing in a Dog

How I Met Max

Warning: This post contains graphic images.  But hang in there… they get better. 🙂

I was sitting in the house one morning trying to get motivated to comb my hair and go to work when my phone rang. It was my receptionist.

“Doctor Jones, you’d better come out here.”

My morning commute is about 30 feet. I left the house and walked over to the clinic to see what was up. What I saw was a young chocolate lab with the most grizzly wound I have ever seen in twenty years of veterinary practice.

“Max” had been riding in the back of his owner’s pickup. He was tied up, which is a good thing, but he had too much rope… bad thing. He had just enough rope to go over the side of the truck bed and hang there…

Being a 5 month old lab with limited brain function (it is a well-established scientific fact that the labrador brain does not begin to operate until the age of two), over the side of the truck bed he went.

Don’t Drink and Drive Your Dog

The owner, who was slightly “over lubricated,” did not notice Max’s predicament. The poor dog’s back leg got tangled up with the truck’s tire. It was a long time before the inebriated owner noticed. When he did notice, he rushed Max… home… so he could wait three or four days before going to the vet.

By the time I saw Max, he was in real trouble. All the flesh and 1/4 of the bone on the inside of his leg between his knee and ankle was gone. The remaining bone was completely flat as if someone had taken a large belt sander to the leg. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Max also had a fever of 106 degrees and was septic.

When I pinched the end of Max’s toe, he weakly pulled up the leg. He had some other significant nerve deficits… couldn’t tell whether his foot was upside down or right side up, but the fact that he pulled it away gave me hope that there was enough functional wiring to keep him from dragging the leg.

I told the owner what the cost and commitment would be to try to save Max, and he elected to give him to me and go away. He is currently enjoying the hospitality of the State of Idaho for serial DUI.

Keeping Max Alive

Now, in a case like this, modern medicine has two solutions – amputation or euthanasia. The tissue loss was just too extensive for any sort of surgical solution or grafting. Because of previous successes with similar wounds, I was convinced that we could make a difference with herbs.

I put Max on IV antibiotics to combat the systemic infection. I also put him on several Silver Lining Herbs formulas, #24 Immune Support and #25 INF-X. Then I made a poultice of #16 Power Dust and water and wrapped the leg.

After 48 hours, Max’s temperature was still 106 degrees, and he was fading. The infected bone was getting the best of him and the IV antibiotics were doing nothing. I switched antibiotics. After another 24 hours Max was worse and his fever was still above 106.

OK, I thought, time to turn up the heat.

Treating the Infection

I discontinued the antibiotics and went right to the source of the problem – the sheered off, infected bone. I took some goldenseal and calendula, made a paste with water, and rubbed it into the exposed bone marrow. I then wrapped it in the Power Dust poultice again and increased the frequency of #24 Immune Support and #25 INF-X to every two hours. I also added straight echinacea at a rate of 1 tsp every two hours.

Within 12 hours, Max’s fever was gone and he was eating. I have seen a lot of miracles in my practice over the years but this turn-around was absolutely astounding to me.

Healing the Leg Wound

Now that the infection was under control, it was time to get Max’s wound healed. The #16 Power Dust contains a number of herbs that accelerate cell division and speed healing but I wanted to do more so I added #12 Bone, Tissue and Cartilage Support. This is a new formula I had worked up only a few months before meeting Max. Like Power Dust, it contains herbs to aid and accelerate wound and bone healing but it is given orally and does its work from the inside out.

As shown in the pictures, the results speak for themselves. After two months of daily herbal therapy, Max now has full use of his completely healed leg. The only evidence of his injury is a scar running up the inside of his leg. He runs, jumps and plays with best of them and all nerve functions are completely normal. He was adopted and has a wonderful new home.

Even after all these years, the power of herbs and the body’s ability to heal continue to astound me. I’ve had several similar wound cases over the years, but none of the others had bone loss exposing the marrow; and none of the others had the systemic sepsis. This case was truly amazing for me to watch.

Photos of Max’s Progress

Day 1: Note the flatness of the bone surface. The periosteum (outer bone layer) was completely gone exposing the marrow.


Day 1: This is the other side of the same leg. Skin is missing from about 1/3 of this side.


Poultice application directly on wound. The poultice was applied daily. After about 2 weeks I started going 12 hours on, 12 hours off. I wrapped it with gauze and vet wrap.


Day 6: Wound is already granulating (the lumpy appearance) this usually starts at about 10-14 days.


Day 10

Day 10

Day 14: Wound starting to contract over bone.

Day 14

Day 16: Wound contraction and filling continues.

Day 16

Day 30: Bone completely covered

Day 30

Day 45: Just waiting for skin and hair now.

Day 45

Day 60: Almost done. Max has full use of the leg. 2 weeks later the wound is completely closed and looks like the white scar on his ankle all the way up.

Max Last

Max’s adoption day! On his way to a new home.


Happy, healthy, and still dumb as ever! 🙂

Making the Poultice

Some folks asked about how the poultices were prepared. I just add the powdered herbs to water and make a thick paste. This paste is put directly onto the wound and wrapped. The next day the poultice is removed, the goo wiped off (lots of goo on these) and the poultice replaced.

The poultice can be applied directly to the wound if the patient isn’t wiggly.

How to 1

Otherwise, I spread it on 4×4 gauze pads and slap the pads on (herbs to wound) and wrap it while he’s licking the technician’s face.

How to 2

Then wrap lightly with gauze…

How to 3

Then some more gauze…

How to 4

Then some cotton padding…

How to 5

Then a bit more gauze… after all this is a Labrador!

How to 6

Then some vetwrap (comes in many colors).
Max is back!

The wrapping mustn’t be too tight, obviously. With humans one needn’t do so much wrapping, as humans rarely chew off their bandages. 🙂

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