A fracture, dislocation, or severe sprain may be suspected when your pet suddenly appears lame on a leg, or picks up a leg and won’t use it. These may also be suspected following any major fall or blunt injury. Obvious findings of a bone sticking out from (protruding) a wound are rare. What is more common is the unusual angle or deformation of the fractured area, and swelling. Accurate diagnosis requires the use of x-rays, which usually must be taken with sedation or anesthesia to get the most accurate results. An x-ray is the only way to accurately diagnose a fracture.
A fracture refers to a break or even a crack in a bone. There are several different types of fractures, and each type has different complications and methods of repair. Your veterinarian can help you decide how best to fix the fracture and if referral to a specialist is in your pet’s best interest. Although splinting will allow a small number of fractures to heal, most will require surgery to ensure the best outcome. Toy breeds of dogs (such as Pomeranians, rat terriers and similar small, long-legged dogs) always require surgery on foreleg fractures due to the high failure rate of splinting. Many fractures of long will require surgical reduction and stabilization. Toes and the long bones of the feet may require surgery or simply splinting.
Splinting and casting are only appropriate for specific circumstances and must be properly cared for and managed by both the owner and the veterinarian. It is important to understand that there may be additional costs for follow up care and x-rays to evaluate the progress of the bone healing, or callus.
It is recommended to take your pet to your veterinarian to evaluate, x-ray, provide stabilization, pain management, and a long term treatment plan. If it is after hours you may need to seek emergency care.