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Healthy Pet Care Tips

What To Do When Your Dog Breaks a Leg

Dogs can certainly be rambunctious. They have lots of energy and love to run, jump, and play, which is great but does involve the risk of injury. In today's post, you will find information about broken bones in dogs, how to tell if a bone is broken, and what to do if your dog breaks a leg.

Do You Think that Your Dog Broke Their Leg?

If your dog experiences a fall, fight, or another form of trauma and then begins to struggle to get around while limping and vocalizing pain, then there is a chance that they may have broken a bone. While there is a good chance that you will witness some form of distress in your dog, there is also the possibility that they will do their best to mask the pain and hide their injury. This is their natural survival instinct.

If you see concerning symptoms, it's important for your pup to be examined by a vet as soon as possible.

Sign of a Broken Limb in Dogs

If your dog has experienced trauma resulting in a broken limb, these are some of the signs you may see:

  • Sudden lameness or limping
  • Refusing to bear weight on the limb
  • Swelling of the limb
  • Vocalization of the pain
  • Open wound or discoloration

Different Types of Broken Bones in Dogs

Different types of fractures can occur in dogs. The type of fracture will determine how the bone is broken and what the healing process and treatment are like.

Here are some of the different types of broken bones that your dog may experience:

Closed Fractures

If your dog has a closed fracture, the bone will break beneath the surface, but the skin will stay intact. You will not see an external wound with this type of broken bone.

Open Fractures

When a dog experiences an open fracture, the skin at the site of the break will be open. There is a chance that you will see part of the bone through the open wound in these cases, or even fully protruding through the skin depending on the severity of the injury. Unfortunately, these types of fractures can be difficult to treat as the bone is exposed and will be considered infected making the healing and recovery process much more difficult.

Incomplete Fractures

This type of injury is smaller and incomplete, meaning that while there is a fracture, the fracture itself has not extended all of the way through the bone. This fracture type is generally considered one of the easiest to heal as the bone is still in one piece, making the healing process less complicated and quicker.

Complete Fractures

A complete fracture occurs when the bone fully breaks into two or more pieces.

There are three common types when it comes to this form of fracture:

  • Transverse Fracture: the bone is broken parallel to the length of the bone and straight across
  • Oblique Fracture: the bone has pointed ends due to the break occurring at a diagonal angle
  • Comminuted Fracture: there are more than three pieces that the bone has broken into and the size and shape vary by piece

What to Do If You Are Concerned That Your Dog Has Broken a Bone

While a dog breaking a bone is not typically considered life-threatening, it is still a situation that you should address as soon as possible by bringing them to your veterinarian or an animal emergency clinic to be examined. 

Before bringing your dog in to see the vet, you may need to administer first aid, especially if there are any open wounds that are actively bleeding. If possible, you should carry your dog in and out of the car to avoid having them bear weight on the affected limb. Once you are at the emergency vet clinic, the vet will work to stabilize the affected limb and manage any pain that your dog may be experiencing. 

If you are unable to have your dog seen by a vet right away, then it may be best to carefully confine your pet to a suitably sized crate or small room. Placing an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area for roughly 10-15 minutes may help reduce swelling and provide some pain relief.

Treatment for a Dog That Has Experienced a Broken Limb

The treatment for broken bones in dogs will depend on a variety of factors, such as their health, age, location, and type of fracture.

Your veterinarian or emergency clinic vet will sedate your dog and perform an X-ray to get a clear image of the bone and injury it has sustained.

While many broken bones in dogs can be treated using immobilization, there is a chance that your dog may experience a more complicated fracture that requires surgical intervention. 

No matter which method of treatment is recommended, recovery is bound to be a lengthy process that could last weeks to even months. It is important to help keep your dog as comfortable as possible and limit moving during recovery to minimize the risk of potential complications.

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.

If your dog is walking strangely or not at all, and you are concerned that they may have broken a bone, please contact your nearest PetVet Care Centers member practice immediately for help.

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