Broken bones in Dogs

May 22, 2022 | 0 comments

Dog with broken leg at the vet

Which bone is frequently broken?

There are numerous reasons dogs can cause fractures (fracture) bones, like accidents on the road or falling from an elevated height. Most often, broken bones occur:

  • The femur (thigh bone)
  • pelvis
  • skull
  • jaw
  • spine

How do you spot the breakage?

Fractures are often apparent, mainly when the fractured bone is visible through the dog’s skin. But, any indication of discomfort or pain following an injury or accident could indicate a break or dislocation. Swelling, limping, crying, and even deformity, such as the leg being shorter, could suggest that something is wrong. Abscesses and grass seeds moving away from the body and ligament, tendon, and muscle injuries can result in similar symptoms and similar intensity of pain.

What kinds of fractures exist?

Fragments are classified as either open or closed

  • Available fractures (also called compounds fractures) are when the bone is exposed to the wound, which is usually contaminated by bacteria and dirt and comes with an increased risk of infection
  • Closed fractures can be described as those that have broken bone fragments that do not penetrate the skin

What should you do if you think your dog suffers from a broken bone?

The primary goal of treatment is to ease pain, reduce the possibility of accidents occurring again, and avoid infections. If you suspect that your pet has fractured an artery, don’t attempt to fix the fractures or apply antiseptics or ointments to open fractures. Make sure your dog visits your veterinarian immediately.

The route toward the veterinarian

Pushing your dog can be an appropriate option, as stress, anxiety, or aggression (biting owners to defend themselves) are not uncommon. While you’re waiting to visit your vet, consider supporting broken limbs using towels and keeping your pet warm to avoid shock. Fractures that are open need to be covered with clean gauze like a bandage, clean tea towel, or a clean T-shirt and gently applied pressure to keep the bleeding going.

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Which dogs could be at risk of breaking bones?

However, all breeds are susceptible to breakage, as most fractures occur due to an abrupt impact or a considerable force, whether from falls or objects. They usually occur in older dogs or young, playful puppies. Toy breeds with fragile legs can be trampled on as well.

How can broken bones be treated?

How vets treat fractures varies based on the dog’s size, age of the bone, fitness level and type of fracture, and budget. Hairline closed and open fractures are generally treated when the patient is in blood loss, shock, and pain have been successfully controlled using anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics. The possibility of infection is usually minimized within days of the first incident. Specific fracture repair procedures could cost thousands of dollars. Sometimes, amputation is recommended.


Treatment and the best treatment options typically require general anesthetics, x-rays, and surgical procedures, which allow bone edges to join and re-align (fracture reduction) to knit together and form the healed callus.

Repairing broken bones

After reducing the size, the position of the bones has to be kept. In most dogs, who have fractures above the elbow or knee, the bones are held by pins and plates made of metal. Fractures below the elbow or knee are held with splints and casts. Joint injuries typically require open surgery and are repaired using screws, pins, and wire. Your vet might even decide to take your pet to an orthopedic doctor.

Can I aid my dog’s healing?

After surgery, the healing process is significantly improved by the strictest Crate rest (often up to 6 weeks) to avoid running, playing, walking, or jumping. It also includes assistance and bandaging and longer-term courses of antibiotics and painkillers. Certain implants need to be removed in the future, and others may have to be kept permanently in the patient.

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Supporting your dog

Healing tends to be faster in quiet, younger patients who are calm and healthy of all sizes, shapes, and breeds suffering from single-limb injuries. However, delays in healing are frequent in older, lively, nutritional, active giants or toy breeds, particularly if they have other injuries. The dog could require assistance in standing, walking, and using the bathroom within the first few days or weeks following surgery, particularly on slippery surfaces.


The goal of physiotherapy is to increase comfort and improve limb usage without causing harm. When the limbs aren’t utilized correctly for a few days or weeks, joints become stiff, muscles shrink, and bone healing can be delayed. Careful coordination between the vet and physiotherapist may help them get back to normal functioning.

Alternative options

Other methods that you can test yourself at home include cold therapies (applying cold packs on the area of the fracture), motion therapy (flexing and stretching joints), and massage therapy (this aids in preventing scar tissue). However, it’s essential to talk to your veterinarian before trying all of them. Other alternative treatments like hydrotherapy could also be recommended in some instances, but it is necessary to consult your doctor or a referral before you try anything.

How long will broken bones heal?

However, your vet will be able to explain how long it will require to heal. Generally, fractures in canines require at least four weeks for young puppies and eight weeks for older animals to recover and then be back to normal.

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Being strict can aid your dog in healing.

As pet owners, we cannot simply say to our pets to “take the easy way” or “stay away from it,” and it’s your job to set limitations, even when your pet is asking to play. It could be 2 to 3 months when the sun shines, and squirrels want to be chased. However, disasters can strike when fracture repair is stressed too quickly.


Fractures heal, and bones can return to normal strength and shape. Attention to detail, proper treatment, and stopping your dog from running before it can walk’ can ensure that our ‘broken pets can often return to normal, healthy with active lifestyles.

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