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Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.
Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.

Your Dog Broke a Bone – Now What?

06/01/2018 by Colleen Williams
June 1st, 2018 by Colleen Williams

Last updated March 23, 2020.

Accidents happen, even to the best pet parents. It’s important to be well-prepared to recognize the symptoms of a broken limb, and be aware of treatments, situations, and costs that may arise.

How can I recognize a broken bone?

Broken bones manifest as lumps or bumps on a dog’s joint that are swollen and painful to the touch. The animal may refuse to lay or put pressure on the limb, or excessively lick it. Limping or limited mobility are also indicators of a broken bone. If you suspect a broken bone, you’ll want to get to a veterinarian quickly, so they can perform an exam and do x-rays to determine the damage and treatment.

How do broken bones most commonly occur?

Dogs can break bones in a variety of ways. Common examples include car accidents, falls from a height or even playing too hard with other dogs or people. Dogs with a pre-existing condition such as a tumor or a metabolic bone disease like rickets will have weaker bones, more prone to break.

What are the most common types of broken bones in dogs?

The most frequently broken bones in dogs are the femur (thigh bone), pelvis, skull, jaw, and spine, according to the UK Kennel Club.

How do you treat a broken bone in a dog?

The type of break determines the handling of the injury. Splints, casts, pins, steel plates, and screws are all potential treatments of a broken bone. The age of the dog is also taken into account; older and younger animals have weaker bones and are more prone to fractures. An X-ray will be taken to confirm the break.

Your veterinarian may temporarily stabilize the fracture by applying a splint, padded bandage or another device. Depending on the severity of the break, your veterinarian may apply a cast or splint without surgery to stabilize the bone. For more severe breaks, a vet will perform surgery using metallic implants such as a pin, wire, plate, screw, nail or fixator.

How much do treatments for broken bones in a dog cost?

It varies, depending on the severity of the break. Generally, the cost of a dog’s broken bone runs from $200 to $1,000 and up. Some minor fractures don’t require any treatment besides rest; others, like compound fractures, may involve surgery and steel plates inserted into the animal’s limb.

Can I prevent broken bones?

Most of the time, yes! Car accidents are a major cause of broken bones in dogs; by keeping your pet leashed or inside, you can easily prevent any traffic-related injuries. Bone cancer, or osteosarcoma, can also be a cause of broken bones. Feeding your pet a healthy, nutritious diet can ward off cancer and also prevent bone breaks due to malnutrition.

How do I transport a dog with a broken bone?

In an emergency, it’s important to know the right steps to follow in order to protect your pet’s health.

  1. Call your local veterinarian or animal hospital and describe the injury. This prepares them for your arrival, and they may also require you to perform minor first aid.
  2. Try to stabilize the limb by wrapping it loosely in a towel. Be careful – hurt animals sometimes lash out, even at their owners! Most emergency experts recommend muzzling your dog before attempting any care.
  3. If possible, have someone help you move the animal into the car. Lift the animal onto a blanket and lift the corners of the blanket, moving the dog as little as possible.
  4. Again, if possible, have someone else drive, and try to keep the animal stationary and calm it down until you reach the vet clinic or hospital.

Even the most diligent and careful pet owners can have something happen to your pet. Part of being a responsible pet owner is knowing what to do in an emergency situation. The treatments and costs that follow an injury like a broken bone are also important knowledge for a pet owner. Keep yourself educated in order to provide a healthy life for both you and your pet.

The good news

Fractures do heal and bones often resume near normal shape and strength. Being vigilant, getting the right treatment and easing your dog back into normal activity slowly means your injured pet can usually return to a completely normal, happy and active life.

Broken bones are just the kind of unexpected accident that pet insurance is designed to cover, given that it’s not a pre-existing condition and the 2-week waiting period after enrollment has passed. With Healthy Paws, you can be reimbursed up to 90% of your vet bills for these unexpected incidents.