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Dog Bone Fracture: Everything You Need to Know

Discovering that your dog has a bone fracture can be an extremely frightening and stressful experience. In this article, our vets from Mankato will provide essential tips on how to handle the situation if your dog ever faces a bone break or fracture.

Identifying a Fractured Bone

When a dog breaks a bone, it's often obvious. Most of the time, the bone will break through the skin, causing a messy situation. However, some fractures occur inside the body without breaking the skin. If your dog whines when a specific body part is touched, shows unexplained swelling in an area, or avoids walking or putting weight on a leg, they might have a broken bone.

Stay Calm

Our dogs are like family to us, and we want to keep them safe. Unfortunately, dogs can get sick or injured just like humans, and broken bones are more common than you might expect. If your dog experiences such an emergency, the first thing you should do as a responsible pet parent is to remain calm.

During this distressing time, your dog will depend on you to provide the necessary help. It's crucial for you to stay composed and act quickly in getting them to an emergency veterinary hospital, where a vet can attend to them right away.

Symptoms of Broken Bones in Dogs

Most broken bones occur after some sort of activity or accident. Not only will there be signs of a broken bone, as noted below, but there may also be other injuries that can be attributed to the accident. For instance, a dog that has been hit by a car may have a broken leg but also experience internal bleeding and have difficulty breathing.

Signs most often associated with broken bones in dogs include:

  • Lameness, often seen with the affected limb held up
  • Pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Crepitus (crunching within the joint) or increased looseness of the limb
  • Abnormal conformation (angularity or shortening) of the affected limb
  • Broken bone protruding from the skin
  • Swelling or bruising of the limb/body part

Call an Emergency Vet Immediately

If you suspect that your dog has broken a bone, it is crucial to have it assessed and treated by a professional immediately. Your vet will likely schedule an emergency visit, but be prepared to wait if the vet is fully booked for the day.

It's important to jot down as much information as you can recall about the cause of the broken bone. Providing details about how the injury may have occurred (such as a fall or being struck by an object) can help your vet better understand the nature of the injury or identify other possible injuries.

Don't Try to Fix it Yourself

Do not attempt to set or splint the bone, or apply any creams, ointments, or sprays on the injury, as these actions could agitate your dog further and may lead to biting due to pain. If your dog is bleeding heavily, carefully wrap the injury with a clean cloth and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. It might be necessary to muzzle your dog during this process to prevent biting caused by pain. To keep your dog warm and comfortable, cover them with a blanket in these circumstances.

Get Assistance Moving Your Dog

When you first notice your dog's injury, ensure you move them indoors to a safe and quiet place if they aren't already there. You'll need to transport your dog to the vet, so try to get some help, especially if you have a larger breed. Moving your dog carefully and steadily is crucial to avoid further injury or discomfort. It's advisable to have someone accompany you to the vet to keep your dog company and offer assistance. Keep in mind that relocating your dog after a bone injury can be painful for them, so be cautious and consider using a muzzle if necessary.

What Your Vet Will Do

The veterinarian will assess your dog's condition and the severity of its injuries. Depending on various factors, the vet may recommend surgery to repair the bone, setting the fracture, or in severe cases, amputation of the limb.

X-rays of the affected area will likely be necessary to determine the type and extent of the fracture. Your dog may also require sedation and/or pain management during this process.

Additionally, your dog will need a combination of medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relief medication, antibiotics, and others, to aid in healing and prevent infections.

Your Dog's Recovery From a Bone Fracture

After your dog's bone has been repaired, it will need a considerable amount of time to recover. Your dog will be fitted with a cast and may require therapy to regain its natural mobility.

Your dog should refrain from running, jumping, or playing until fully healed. However, they should be walked and exercised gently as per the recommendations of your vet and/or physical therapist.

Your vet may suggest using cold packs or providing gentle massages on the injury to aid recovery. Following these instructions can significantly impact the healing process. However, if your vet doesn't recommend these treatments for your dog's broken leg, it's best to let the bone heal naturally.

Healing a fractured bone in your dog, even a puppy, will typically take a couple of months, depending on the severity of the injury. The duration of the cast may vary accordingly.

While your dog has the cast on, they may need to wear a cone (e-collar) to prevent licking or chewing on the cast. This is important to avoid damaging the cast or ingesting harmful objects.

Your dog may not be happy wearing the cast as they recover, so try to make them feel as comfortable as possible during this time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are You concerned that your dog may have fractured a bone? Contact our Mankato vets to have your pup cared for.

Compassionate Veterinary Care

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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