If your dog has broken a bone, you will need to stabilize the area that has the break and transport your dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Not all bone breaks are obvious, but if your dog has the following symptoms a possible break may have occurred.
Symptoms of a Broken Bone
- Swelling or bruising
- Severe pain
- Limping or the inability to bear any weight on a limb
- Behavioral changes such as lack of appetite, depression, and aggression when the sore area is touched
- Feeling the dog’s bones grind under your fingers when you move the dog’s joints or limbs
- A bone which can be seen protruding through the skin such as in the case of a compound fracture
What You Should Do
Try to keep the affected area completely stabilized and immobile. Keep in mind that your dog may try to bite you while you are stabilizing the area and preparing the dog for transport to a veterinarian. A muzzle may be needed if your dog becomes aggressive.
In the case of a broken limb, use a towel or blanket to wrap and support the limb. Sticks, pieces of wood, cardboard, newspaper, or a magazine rolled around the limb, can also be used to help stabilize the limb and prevent further injury. Tape the support so that it does not become lose during transport.
If a compound fracture has occurred, wet a towel, blanket, or other cloth and gently place the cloth over the area where the bone is protruding from the skin. Then try to gently immobilize the area or keep your dog as still as possible.
If a pelvic, rib, or back fracture is suspected, move your dog using a piece of cardboard, wooden board, or a towel or blanket to keep your dog from moving during transport to a veterinarian.
What Your Veterinarian Will Do
The treatment for a broken bone will depend on the severity of the break and the dog’s age. Some breaks can be treated with a simple splint or cast, while other breaks require surgery and pins in order to stabilize and repair the break in addition to long casting times and rehabilitation. In most cases, younger dogs heal much quicker than older dogs, and younger dogs usually require casting for less amount of time than older dogs.
Your veterinarian will assess the dog’s break through a series of x-rays, plus check the dog’s vital signs for any symptoms of shock. Blood tests may also be recommended to ensure that the dog is stable for surgery and that no other underlying medical conditions or injuries are present.
Follow up x-rays are needed throughout the healing process to make sure that the break is stabilized, healing, and to estimate when any cast or splints can be removed.