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What is Broken Leg?

Our pets can easily fracture a bone in either their front leg or back leg. The front leg consists of the radius and ulna (with the radius being the main weight supporting bone), and the humerus (forms the elbow and shoulder). The back leg comprises of the tibia and fibula (shin), and the femur (thigh). If your canine companion has an accident and suffers a broken leg, a veterinary surgeon will need to assess the severity and location of the break.

Another name for a broken bone is a fracture. Dogs are no different than humans in that they can accidentally fracture a leg bone during times of exercise or play. Fractures of the long, weight bearing bones are most common. Not all events lead to broken bones; legs can also be dislocated or classified as a hairline fracture (small crack in the bone).

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Broken Leg Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Broken Leg in Dogs

In many cases, a pet owner will witness the event that leads up to the fracture. Sometimes, though, our pets suffer a broken leg without us knowing it has happened. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms below, be certain to bring him to the clinic without delay.

  • Abnormal movement of a limb
  • Holding the leg up
  • Swelling in a limb
  • Pain
  • Whining
  • Unwillingness or inability to walk
  • Severe lameness
  • Grinding or popping sounds of bone
  • Bruising

In the case of a serious trauma, there could be other critical issues that are not apparent such as internal bleeding or organ injury. Do not ponder the decision to go the veterinary hospital.

Types

There is a chance that a broken bone, contingent on the type and severity, could be life threatening. If the bone is impacting an organ or causing a part of the body to bleed, complications could quickly develop. The types of broken bones can be classified in a few ways.

  • Incomplete or complete fracture
    • This description means the fracture has occurred partway around the bone (incomplete) or broken through the circumference of the bone (complete).
  • Transverse, oblique or comminuted
    • This is a complete fracture described as transverse (straight across bone), oblique (diagonally across the bone), and comminuted (the break is in three or more pieces)
  • Open or closed fracture
    • Simply said, the wound in the skin where the fracture is located is open, or if there is no visible wound, it is closed
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Causes of Broken Leg in Dogs

A break in a dog’s leg can occur when you least expect it. Your dog will be in pain and may be feeling very anxious and frightened. Remain calm as you prepare for the trip to the clinic so as not to upset or excite your dog, which could result in making the break worse.

  • Vehicular trauma
  • Play and exercise
  • Sports
  • Underlying disease
  • Diet (too much phosphorus or Vitamin A, not enough calcium)
  • Bone cancer
  • Inherited collagen defect (weakens bones)
  • Falls
  • Age (young bones are not fully formed)
  • Breed (toy breeds have tiny bones, easy to break)
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Diagnosis of Broken Leg in Dogs

Transport your dog as carefully as possible to the clinic. If the leg break is the result of a vehicular accident, be aware that your pet could have internal injuries. If another family member is at home, have them accompany you, so there is an extra person available in the seat beside your dog, to provide comfort and to keep him from trying to move. Depending on the type of break, you may choose to fashion a splint of sorts to keep the break still. Do not attempt to correct the position of the limb.

When you reach the clinic, the veterinary team will first concentrate on stabilising your pet’s vital signs if needed. The following steps and tools will be used for diagnosis.

  • Intravenous will be initiated if your dog requires it, to begin the use of fluids, pain medication or antibiotics
  • A catheter could be inserted, so your dog does not feel the need to stand to urinate, and so he does not stress about not being able to pass urine
  • The veterinarian will check for organ injury or other signs of trauma
  • Blood work may be done
  • Your dog will most likely be sedated so the veterinary team can do radiographs of the body (leg views to check for the break, abdominal and chest views to verify that the heart and lungs are without complications)
  • An abdominal ultrasound will be done if needed for additional organ analysis
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Treatment of Broken Leg in Dogs

Once your furry family member has been stabilised, the fracture will be attended to. Immobilizing the break in order to ease pain and prevent further damage to muscles, blood vessel and nerves are key. Avoiding further trauma to the break is important, too.

The options will be of a non-surgical or surgical nature. In the case of a simple, closed fracture, a splint or cast may be all that is required for healing. With a cast or splint, emphasis must be placed on keeping the injured area, and it’s covering clean and dry.

Other surgical fixation methods (like metal devices) may be a better choice. The decision will depend on your dog’s age, your home environment (are you home with your dog most of the time?), and your financial options in regards to the method of treatment. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you best on the treatment alternatives.

It is interesting to note the following points about treatment options.

  • A cast may, at first, seem like the most economical choice for treatment
  • However, a cast or splint requires many additional appointments due to evaluations, changes, and possible repairs or replacements
  • The overall healing period may be longer with a cast or splint
  • An external metal fixation device will involve pins being put through the bone to splint it, without entering the body (except for the pins)
  • An internal fixation device will be implanted under the skin and in the bone with the use of screws, pins, wires or plates
  • As a pet owner, you may feel uncomfortable discussing the amputation of a limb, but this is sometimes the best decision when it comes to a severely damaged leg
  • Dogs adapt very quickly to living with three legs
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Recovery of Broken Leg in Dogs

The length of hospital stay will depend on the treatment. The stay may range from one day to two weeks.

Home care is a very important part of the recovery process. In the case of a splint or cast, you will need to monitor carefully the condition of the bandage or covering. Looseness can slow healing, and pressure sores could develop. Prevent your dog from licking the cast or pulling on the splint. An elizabethan collar could be the answer.

In the instance of internal and external fixation devices, there may be a need for the removal of some of the metal device in the future. Your veterinarian will give you all of the information needed as to timing and requirements.

No matter which treatment method was used, follow-up radiographs will be necessary for eight weeks time so that the break can be re-evaluated.

In the meantime, continue the use of pain medication or antibiotics as prescribed. Do not allow your dog to jump or partake in high impact play. Walking, swimming, and wading in water are beneficial forms of exercise once your veterinarian says the time is right to begin.

She may recommend professional physical therapy such as an underwater treadmill. With the guidance of your veterinary team, you may be asked to do physical therapy at home in the form of ice treatments, flexion of joints, and massage.

Together, you and your veterinarian can have your pet back to walking in due time. Typical recovery length will be four to eight weeks. The age of your dog will be a factor since younger dogs heal more quickly than older dogs do. The recovery may seem slow, but the prognosis for a broken leg is very good when care and diligence is taken.

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Broken Leg Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Broken Leg Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Chocolate lab

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Leg

She is arthritic & had a tumble down a couple of steps. She seemed okay but 24 hours later her foreleg was swollen, warm and tender. She also could not stand without assistance. Once up, she walked and urinated and bm like normal. Tramadol helped. Im wondering broken bone & vet visit or muscular bruising or sprain with lots of rest.

Aug. 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, This may be a sprain or strain or she may have broken something. If she is walking on her leg, it is most likely a sprain or strain. Allow her to rest and if it continues to bother her see your vet for an x-ray. I hope your dog starts to improve quickly.

Aug. 22, 2020

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Blue Heeler

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Yesterday afternoon I came across a stray puppy in the middle of a main hwy. she either fell out of/ off a vehicle or was hit. She has a broken leg in two places. I was told she needs a ortho Surgeon or my other option was to amputate the leg. But the cost is extremely high for both options. If I continue to splint the leg and keep her as comfortable and no weight on that side is it possible for the leg to heal without surgery ?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, she is adorable. Some fractures will not heal with splints, and need surgery, unfortunately. Depending on the location of the fracture, you may keep a splint on for years and it won't heal. If your veterinarian advised either surgery to repair the breaks, or amputation, it is likely one of those. Dogs do quite well with amputation, especially as young dogs, and you may be able to call different clinics and see if there is someone that can do it for less cost. From your description, just leaving it or splinting it does not sound like a good idea. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Afghan Hound

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Painful Urination

My 5 month old had a diaphyseal femur fracture and is in a cast.So I was wondering if you think he will need surgery?

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello Thank you for the question and picture. Unfortunately without the x-ray it is difficult to say. Some clean breaks do not require surgery, just a splint/cast and time for the bone to heal, which usually takes 4-6 weeks. If there is a comminuted fracture, meaning a fracture with several pieces of bone, that can require surgery. It is up to the veterinarian that is treating your pup. Hope that helps.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Shiba Inu

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Eight Weeks

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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Possible Broken Leg

My puppy was bit by my other dog. I am unsure if it is broken. Bone isn't protruding the skin. There's no bite marks or blood. It happened at around 5-6pm and it's 11pm now. She won't put weight on it and is trying to isolate herself between things, under things and up against the wall.

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thanks for your question. I do think due to her non weight bearing lameness that a veterinary visit is in order immediately. They will be able to examine the limb and perform x-rays to assess for a fracture. A Quite often when a dog has a fracture there is no evidence of bony protrusion external to the skin. Your vet will be also be able to prescribe pain medications to keep her more comfortable. I hope she recovers quickly!

Aug. 2, 2020

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Rottweiler/chow

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12 1/2

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lots Of Crusty Residue Left On Leg After Bandage Taken Off

My dog had bandage taken off after a broken leg and she is biting at the residue matted on her leg to where it bleeds? How can I get all of this stuff off of her so she stops biting it to try and get it off herself?

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There is often a lot of debris left after a splint, and sometimes just brushing the area can help remove some of that dead hair and debris. If she is biting it to the point where she is bleeding, she may need to recheck with her veterinarian, but sometimes 24 hours can make a big difference and reassessing in the morning might be a good idea. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 30, 2020

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Leo

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Maltese

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Limping
Not Moving

I need help..Hello. I have a 4 month old puppy that broke his back leg. Vet said he needs surgery and Im just worried that when they put a rod on his leg that it will effect his growth cause he is still growing. I do not have money to do a second surgery after he gets the rod put in now. will that effect his growth? Will it stay on forever? How long does it take to heal? How do I know when its time for a new rod or when its healed?. Does it even get removed?

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Mickey

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Pit bull lab

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling

I don't know what happened to him really. One day he woke up from a nap and started whimpering and the next thing I knew it got worse. He isn't walking on it and we have only gone to see someone once. It's his front left leg. The bone looks like it's popping out of place and it started swelling. I don't know what to do and how much surgery would cost. I'm not sure what to do. I'm not even sure what happened and I just don't know what to do.

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Oreo

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Mixed

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5 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Leg

My dog suffered fracture in her front leg and it slightly broke her bone. I was advised to get her a cast and I proceed with it. but as days goes by, I noticed that her cast was slightly bent, is it normal?

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Bruce

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Pompek

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15 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Crushed Back Legs

My pompek age 15, was hit by a car. His both back legs were crushed in pieces. The vet said he can't do surgery because of his age. Therefore he can't walk again. Please tell me someone can give me hope on this situation.

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Bowie

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Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Broken Leg

My 2 year old male Pomeranian/poodle (7lbs), Bowie, was attacked by a pit bull in the dog park and ended up with a broken femur. We brought him to the ER vet immediately and they recommended surgery with an orthopedic surgeon ASAP. We followed the advice and Bowie had surgery the next day and received a plate with screws to repair the fracture and a “butterfly wire” for a small fissure at the fracture site. It was my understanding that it was a fairly clean break. 10 days post op, the surgical plate snapped, which the surgeon blamed on “cycling” which I understand as a standard over use and gradual failure rather than occurring from a specific incident. We brought him back to another orthopedic surgeon, who recommended a surgical repair using an internal pin, and stronger plate with screws, and bone graph. We did this and post op excessively tried to limit Bowie’s activity with anti anxiety medication and crate restriction. Yet one month later, the plate snapped again. We brought Bowie back to the surgeon and he said the failure was again due to “cycling”. This time he said there was no good surgical option left bc Bowies bone is so compromised and small, especially for his weight. The surgeon said he could try to surgically repair with a larger, stronger plate but it would be very risky bc the screws are also bigger and could very likely pulverize what is left of Bowie’s healthy bone during attempting the surgery, in which case, he would then surgically amputate the leg. This was a situation I was not prepared to hear. I then brought Bowie to another specialist surgeon who was referred by our vet. This surgeon said he could attempt to place a large rod down the bone and use external fixtures, however it was also very risky and he felt it only had a 20% chance of working. So instead of this risky surgery, the doctor suggested we try a conservative method of rest and pain management and see if the leg heals on its own as is, with the broken plate, screws and pin still in place. He did not feel confident that it would work but said it was a similar chance of success as the surgery. So we opted for this route To give Bowie a chance to heal himself and keep his leg naturally. No cast, sling, nor anything else. Just cage rest and medication to keep Bowie comfortable and calm. Recheck X-ray in one month and one month again after that. We are having an extremely difficult time understanding and coping with this approach. Has anyone else ever had experience with something similar? I have read several articles and studies about bones healing naturally on their own, albeit usually misaligned. However it is my understanding that his surgeries would affect his bodies ability to natuRally heal bones on its own. If anyone could provide insight or similar experiences of bones healing on their own after surgery, please share. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/broken-leg

Broken Leg Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews

Joint supplement for dogs

Shop now
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