There’s no denying that dogs are curious. But this also makes them magnets for mischief and mayhem. Most times are harmless and end with a flustered and bewildered pawrent and one waggy-tailed doggo.
But every so often, things don’t end as well and result in injuries like broken or fractured bones. Dog broken legs are more common than you think.
While it’s heartbreaking to see your best pal injured, knowing what to do when your dog has a broken bone will help you remain calm in the situation and ensure you handle the situation in the best possible way for your dog.
- Types of broken bones in dogs
- Symptoms of broken bones in dogs
- What to do if your dog breaks a bone
- How will the vet treat broken bones in dogs?
- Emergency Fund
- How to help your dog with a broken bone
Types of broken bones in dogs
The most common causes of broken bones in dogs include falls, motor vehicle accidents, gunshots, and cancer. But really, any incident that causes an excessive force to the bone can result in a fracture or a break.
According to research, the most common broken bones seen in dogs tend to be the bones of the back legs (the femur, tibia, and fibula), as well as those of the forelimbs (ulna, radius, and humerus). Pelvic fractures and fractures of the mandible are less frequent than broken limbs in dogs but still reasonably common.
Bones can break in several ways, and your vet may use the below to describe your dog’s broken bone. It may be one or a combination of the below:
- Incomplete – a partial break of the bone; the break doesn’t go all the way through the bone;
- Complete – the bone has broken all the way through;
- Comminuted – the break has resulted in more than three fragments of bone;
- Open – the bone is exposed through the skin;
- Closed – there is no outside exposure of the bone;
- Salter-Harris fracture in dogs - a type of fracture in which the fracture goes through the growth plate of the bone;
- Articular – a fracture that involves the joint.
Symptoms of broken bones in dogs
Not sure how to tell if your dog has broken a bone? Several symptoms to look out for can indicate a broken bone in dogs.
Common symptoms of broken bones in dogs include:
- Unusual or abnormal angle of the limb;
- Swelling and bruising;
- Lameness of the affected limb or inability to put weight on the limb;
- Bone protruding from the skin;
- Crepitus or crunching noises that occur with movement of the joint;
Because your dog is injured and feeling vulnerable, they may choose a safe spot and hide out there while they wait out the healing process. Your dog may do this to protect themselves, so it’s not wise to force them out so you can see them walk to observe their movement.
A Petcube Cam can be super helpful in such circumstances. Your dog is more likely to leave their safe spot when they think no one is around, so having an interactive pet camera set up to observe them without being physically present is a great way to assess the severity of their injury.
What to do if your dog breaks a bone
The first and most important thing you must do when you suspect your dog has a broken bone is to remain calm. This is tough. Our dogs are so much more than just our pets; seeing them in pain can be upsetting and scary.
The second thing you need to do if you suspect your dog has a broken bone is to seek veterinary care immediately. Never try to nurse your pet yourself. If there’s been trauma severe enough to break bones, there could be other issues that need to be seen to, like internal bleeding, that aren’t immediately apparent to the untrained eye.
When moving your dog with a broken bone, it’s essential to support the affected limb properly and keep the dog as still as possible. If your dog tends towards aggression at the vet or in times of stress, it’s best to get your dog muzzled before arriving at the vet to be safe. Remember, your dog is in pain, frightened, and vulnerable – some aggression and defensiveness can be expected.
How will the vet treat broken bones in dogs?
Your vet will most likely begin with a physical exam to assess the general health of your dog and the severity and location of their injuries. Next, they will sedate your dog and immobilize the affected areas while they take some x-rays.
Fractures and broken bones in dogs that are stable and relatively simple can be treated with a cast or a splint. This will keep the bones still while they heal. More complex breaks may require further stabilizing in the form of pins, plates, and rods. The installation of these is done during a surgical procedure.
Your vet will likely prescribe some medication for pain management and inflammation, as well as an antibiotic where there are stitches or wounds on the skin to keep infection at bay during healing.
The day you become a pawrent is the day you should sign up with Petcube’s Emergency Fund. Not only does your subscription include access to a team of online veterinarians 24/7, but it offers access to an emergency fund that will pay out up to $3000 annually.
It’s important to remember that the emergency fund is not the same as traditional pet insurance. The emergency fund is only activated after consultation with an online vet in which you share video footage of your doggo, and it’s clear to the online vet that it is, in fact, an emergency.
Once the online vet gives you the go-ahead, you can a vet near you for treatment within the next 4 hours. The final bill must be sent to Petcube, who, on verification that all the criteria have been met, will pay the clinic directly up to a maximum of $3000 (less any outstanding subscription payments for the subscription year).
How to help your dog with a broken bone
In adult dogs, broken bones take around three or four months to heal fully. In puppies, healing is fast, and your pup should be recovered in about two months.
As a pawrent, you must follow the vet’s instructions closely. This relates to administering medication and wound care and where follow-up appointments are required to assess the healing progress.
The trickiest part of healing will be to ensure your dog doesn’t jump or run or get too playful while the broken bones are healing. Your vet may prescribe some physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles and tendons, which may also include exercises for you to do with your dog at home.
How to fix a dog's broken leg at home?
You should never try to treat your dog yourself. Broken bones that are left to heal on their own can cause further problems. They can lead to malformed limbs, permanent limps, and other issues with muscles and tendons.
If you suspect a broken leg and it’s a closed fracture, immobilize the limb using a splint until you can get to a vet.
What should I do if my dog has a broken leg, but I can’t afford the vet?
If you cannot afford treatment for your dog’s broken bone, all is not lost. There are a few things you can do:
- Chat with your regular vet – they may be able to work out a payment plan;
- Reach out to clinics and shelters that may also be able to offer payment assistance;
- Contact charities and rescue organizations – they may be able to provide some financial assistance.
If none yield any results, try setting up a crowdfunding campaign and getting it out on social media. You never know!
Can a dog walk on a broken leg?
If your dog has a broken bone, it’s not likely they will put any weight on the affected limb. Depending on the severity of the break and the amount of pain your dog is in, they can still get around, but they will most undoubtedly limp and avoid using the affected limb.
What does a broken dog leg look like?
A broken dog leg may appear misaligned or bent at an odd angle. There may also be swelling and bruising. In the case of an open fracture, there may be a piece of bone protruding from the skin.
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