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Broken Bones: When Your Dog May Need Surgery

Broken Bones: When Your Dog May Need Surgery

When injuries happen they could be minor such as a scratch or cut or something more serious like a broken bone, either way, it's important to know what to do. Our Eastham vets talk about the signs of broken bones in dogs and what to expect if they need surgery.

Identifying a Break

When a dog breaks a bone, it is usually quite obvious. A majority of the time the bone will fracture through the skin and can be rather messy. However, there may be some instances where the bone breaks internally and is not obvious based on appearance.

If your dog is indeed suffering from a broken bone, it may:

  • Show difficulty when moving the joint as well as pain or stiffness
  • Be showing signs of swelling and bruising around the joint
  • Have an asymmetrical appearance, with one joint looking deformed and out of place
  • Be shortening, bending, or twisting  at the joint
Never try to replace a dislocated joint. Always visit a veterinarian. There is a very high chance you will cause further damage.

Should your dog have any of the above symptoms and you suspect they may be suffering from a broken bone, follow the steps below to get them the help they need.

Stay Calm

Our dogs are part of the family and we don't want anything to happen to them. Unfortunately, just like us, they can fall ill and sustain physical injuries along the way. Bone breaks in dogs are probably more common than you might think, but the first step any pet parent can do in this situation is to remain calm.

This will be a painful and frightening time for your dog and they will be relying on you to get the help they need. As their parent, you need to be able to stay calm enough to efficiently and effectively get them to an emergency care veterinary hospital and into the hands of a vet immediately.

How You Can Help

Call An Emergency Vet Immediately

If you think your dog has broken a bone, it will need to be assessed and treated by a professional right away. Your vet will likely schedule an emergency visit but realize that you may still need to wait a while to be seen if the vet is booked up for the day.

Write down as much information as you can remember about the cause of the broken bone. Your vet may have a better understanding of the injury or other possible injuries if you can inform them how it may have occurred (fell, struck by an object, etc.).

Don't Play Veterinarian

Do not try to set or splint the bone, and do not try to put any creams, ointments, sprays, etc. on the injury. If you try to help by doing any of these, your dog may become more agitated and could bite due to the pain.

If your dog is bleeding significantly, you may need to wrap the injury carefully with a clean piece of cloth and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Your dog may need to be muzzled for you to do this, as again, the pain might cause them to bite.

You can also cover them in a blanket to keep them warm and as comfortable as they can be given the circumstances.

Get Help Moving Your Dog

When you first notice the injury, you will want to relocate your pup inside to a safe and quiet if they aren't already.

You are also going to need to get your dog into your vehicle to transport them to the vet.

In both scenarios, if possible, get some help moving your dog (especially larger breeds). You want to move your pup as carefully and stably to avoid additional injury or discomfort. You may also want to have another person with you on your way to the vet to keep them company and help however they can.

Relocating your dog after they break a bone will be painful for them, so again, be cautious and think about using a muzzle.

What the Vet Will Do

The vet surgeon will assess your dog's state and the extent of its injuries. Based on many variables, the vet will suggest either having the bone repaired with veterinary surgery, setting the bone, or in very severe cases, amputating the limb.

Very likely, your dog will need x-rays of the injured area to assess the type and extent of the fracture. They may also need to be sedated and/or given pain control during this process.

Your dog will need a series of medications, including anti-inflammatory medication, pain control, antibiotics, and more. This will help the wound heal and will also prevent infections throughout the process.

At this point, your vet will make recommendations for how to help care for your dog while their bone heals or inform you if they recommend veterinary surgery.

Preparing Your Dog for Veterinary Surgery

There are some things you should do or know when your dog is going in for surgery to repair a broken bone such as:

  • Your vet will want to ensure that your dog's overall health and weight are good before attempting surgery
  • Bathe and groom your dog before the veterinary surgery as you won't be able to during recovery
  • Makes plans ahead of time for transporting your dog to and from the procedure
  • Ensure that you have a recovery area set up at home including a crate for resting
  • Your dog will need to fast in the hours leading up to the surgery

Your veterinary surgeon will provide you with full instructions for preparing your dog for surgery.

Your Dog's Recovery From Surgery

Understanding how to care for your dog after they have settled in is critical to assist them in returning to their routine as soon as possible. Following vet instructions and obeying them is critical to a safe and successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps suggested, please ask the veterinary surgeon for clarification.

Feeding Your Dog after Surgery

Following surgery, your dog may experience a temporary loss of appetite. Instead, you could serve a half-size portion of a light meal like chicken or rice. Your dog's appetite should return within 24 hours of their operation. If your dog hasn't eaten in more than 48 hours after surgery, contact your veterinarian.

Medication to Keep Your Dog Comfortable

Your veterinarian may prescribe pain relievers or medications for your dog following surgery to help with post-surgery discomfort or pain. Follow these instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary pain while your dog recovers. Never give human medications to your dog without first consulting your veterinarian. While medications help us feel better, they are harmful to our dogs and other pets.

Restricting Movement During Recovery

Most vets will recommend limiting your dog's movements as excessive stretching or jumping can interfere with recovery and cause incisions to reopen. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, only going outside for bathroom breaks.

If you are unable to provide direct supervision, it may be difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture. If your dog is recovering from orthopedic surgery, he or she may need to be confined to a laundry-sized or smaller pen with gradually increasing amounts of exercise as the recovery process progresses.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect that your dog may have broken a bone? Contact our vet surgeons in Eastham to schedule an examination.

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Eastham Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Eastham companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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