Fractures in Pets
Updated: Mar 15
Our animals love to explore and play. While playtime is very important, unfortunately in some cases results are undesirable. We commonly see leg injuries including broken (fractured) bones.
Bones are actually fragile even more in puppies and kittens. Dogs and cat’s bones reach maximum strength after puberty just like humans. Less dense bones, accordingly, mean more potential for fractures.
Signs that a puppy or kitten has fractured a bone may include obvious things like limping or not using one leg. Other, not so obvious, signs might be swelling of the injured area or pain such as guarding the injury, crying, not playing, or not eating. If your puppy or kitten displays such signs, it is always important to seek help from your veterinarian immediately, as things can worsen as time passes.
Your veterinarian will start with a thorough physical examination. A sedative may be necessary, as puppies and kittens may find it difficult to sit still, especially when in pain. X-rays will confirm that a bone is fractured, and show how complex the fracture is. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the repair may involve various techniques and implants. While some fractures may require only a splint to heal properly, others may need pins, plates and screws.
How are fractures treated?
The main objectives of fracture repair are to promote rapid healing of the fracture and to get the animal using its leg as quickly as possible. In most cases, this involves rebuilding the broken bone and fixing it in that position with metallic implants. The most common methods of fixation of fractures include: 1) placing a stainless steel pin in the marrow cavity of the affected bone, 2) plating the bone in position with a plate screwed to the outside of the bone OR 3) using an external fixator, which involves placing several short stainless steel pins vertically into the bone fragments, and connecting these pins on the outside of the leg using metal bars and clamps. The decision as to which technique is used depends on a number of factors:
● the type of fracture your pet has suffered
● what equipment your veterinarian or surgeon has available
● other injuries your animal may have suffered to other limbs
● the age of the animal
● financial considerations
How are fractures diagnosed?
An x-ray will be used to confirm the diagnosis and search for these fractures in most cases.
What post-operative care does my animal need?
After a fracture has been repaired, most animals are discharged at home with pain medications and/ or antibiotics. Some form of activity restriction is usually needed as are cones unfortunately. Your veterinarian will go over detailed instructions in each and every case on how to best manage post operatively.
We offer onsite radiology or X-ray services for cats and dogs. We have ability to refer radiographs to a board certified radiologist if needed. Book your appointment today at Gateway Vet Edmonton.