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Bone Fractures in Dogs and Puppies

04/18/2016 by Colleen Williams
April 18th, 2016 by Colleen Williams

As responsible pet parents, we all try to prevent our beloved pets from injury. Sometimes accidents happen, and all we can do is help them recover. Bone fractures and breaks are very common injuries among dogs young, old, and in-between. Learn to recognize the symptoms of fractures, how to treat them, and what you can do to prevent these injuries.

Causes of Fractures

The leading cause of bone fractures in dogs is trauma. This can result from a car accident, a fall, or a fight between two dogs. A pressure or force is exerted on the dog’s limb that is too much for the bone to handle and it cracks or snaps. Some medical conditions, like arthritis, can make a dog more prone to fractures. Older dogs have weaker bones and are also more susceptible to bone injuries.

Symptoms of Fractures

There are different types of fractures, depending on how the bone is broken:

  1. Closed. The dog’s bone may be cracked, but the skin is not broken. Swelling of the area, inability to move the limb, and whimpering indicating pain are all symptoms. Seek veterinary attention and try to keep your pet as still as possible to prevent their condition from worsening.
  2. Greenstick. In these cases, the bone is cracked but not completely fractured. There may be minor swelling and limping, but you should still see a vet to prevent the fracture from healing wrong; this can result in lameness and reduced mobility of the joint.
  3. Compound. The most dangerous type of fracture, the bone is easily visible through the skin. This puts the dog at high risk for infection and also of going into shock. Bleeding, swelling, and aggressive behavior due to pain are symptoms.
  4. Epiphyseal. These fractures occur most commonly in young dogs, as their bones are still growing. The break happens on the soft area of the bone, or the growth plate.

Treatment of Fractures

Depending on the location and type of fracture, splints, pins, casts, plates, and screws may be used separately or together to realign the bone. Healing times depend on the age and breed of the dog, but count on giving your dog lots of loving care. Surgery is sometimes required for more tricky fractures, and pain medication may be prescribed by your vet.

No matter how much you try to protect your pet, chances are they’ll get injured a few times in their life. Knowing and recognizing the symptoms of common injuries and illnesses is the best thing a prepared pet parent can do for their pet. Never assume a fracture will heal on its own, and always see your vet if you suspect a fracture.