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Dogs can break or fracture bones easily with rough play or accidents. Dogs are, by nature, athletic, but they can injure their bones by jumping and landing improperly or falling. Some dogs are injured by vehicle accidents or other trauma. Most commonly, dog’s legs are the limbs which face broken or fractured bones. If your dog is injured, have him checked by your veterinarian. If the injury includes a break or a fracture, your veterinarian may reset the bones with a bandage cast to promote healing. There are different kinds of fractures, and your veterinarian will treat each one differently.
Some fractures are visible and will require a visit to your veterinarian or the emergency hospital right away. On the other hand, other fractures are not as obvious and may be missed for a few days until your dog begins to show the signs of an injury such as limping, favoring a limb, or lameness in their gait.
Once your veterinarian determines the type of fracture through an exam, which will include X-rays, the veterinary staff will begin to set the bones. The bandage cast your veterinarian provides will immobilize the bones, giving them a chance to fuse together and heal without stress and pressure causing more damage. Depending on the severity of the break, your veterinarian may require pins or plates to keep the bones in place. Bones will heal around these steel objects once they are in place and immobilized.
To keep the bones immobilized, your veterinarian may use a bandage cast, a brace, or a splint. A bandage cast will include bandages wrapped in several layers over the shaved and cleaned limb. Casting tape will be applied to the limb in the direction necessary for the particular break. Padding will be wrapped around the wound in layers to support the fractured area. Once the layers of padding are in place and securing the injury, your veterinary team will wrap the injury with bandages in layers as well. This bandage will adhere to itself, securing the padding and tape underneath.
The time this procedure will take will depend on the nature of the injury. If your dog requires surgery to reset the bones or to insert steel pins, anesthesia will be necessary. Otherwise, your veterinarian may utilize a local anesthesia to ensure the dog’s comfort as they set and bandage cast the bones.
A bandage cast is effective in treating various fractures. Depending on the nature of the injury and how bad the breaks are, bandage casting may be all the treatment necessary. If the breaks are severe or in multiple places, surgery may be required. However, the injury will still be wrapped for full immobilization in a bandage cast. Also, depending on the area of the break and the bones affected, the bandage cast may not be the only treatment necessary. As long as your dog is able to rest, he should also be able to recover with minimal effect on future mobility. Some bones, once broken, may ache with weather changes or increased activity. Some previously broken bones may be at risk of fracturing again, but with restrictions during healing and recovery, your dog should be able to move with similar abilities as before the injury.
Your veterinarian may request your dog stay overnight in the hospital after the initial bandage cast setting or surgery. Once your dog is home, you will need to keep him comfortable and resting. Your dog should not apply weight to the injury, and the bandage cast should be set to allow the dog to use the set limb for mobility without bearing weight.
Your veterinarian will provide pain medications to ease any pain. You will be asked to leash walk your dog for elimination purposes only and to keep the dog calm and resting.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the age of the dog, and the location of the injury, the fracture may take anywhere from five to twelve weeks to fully heal. During this time, your veterinarian may require weekly visits to check or change the outer bandages and observe how the injury is healing. Your veterinarian will want to recheck your dog, possibly with additional X-rays once the injury has healed.
Be sure to call your veterinarian if the bandage cast needs to be changed due to moisture build up or dirty bandages.
The cost of treatment for fractures will greatly depend on the type of break and location of the injury and whether there is emergency care or specialized surgical care. A simple bandage cast for a minor fracture could be under $400, but a surgical procedure may be several thousand dollars. National averages range between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the veterinarian’s specialty and follow-up care. You will want to factor office visits at around $50 per visit and X-rays, at the cost of $50 to $200, into your budget. Pain medications and follow-up care besides office visits should run under $100.
Be sure to listen to all advice by your veterinarian and discuss alternatives to surgery requiring steel pins or plates, if applicable. You may want to ask if it is possible to do a bandage cast bone reset without the surgery, however, surgery is sometimes required for full recovery of the limb or broken bones. Once set properly with rest and recovery, your dog should be back to his old self without complication or with only slight inconveniences, such as minor aches as they age.
Preventing injuries is only possible if you are able to keep your eye on your dog constantly. Even a simple jump off a couch or bed can injure your dog if landed improperly. Sometimes, these types of injuries happen around the house and can’t be avoided. If you have little dogs, watch them carefully as they maneuver onto and off furniture. Pet staircases for high beds or furniture can be purchased to assist your little dog in climbing to their favorite spaces.
When your dogs are outside, keep them locked behind a gated fence in your yard to keep them away from any traffic. Also, walk your dog on a leash when walking outside your yard. If your dog is around other dogs, such as neighbors’ dogs or at a protected dog park, watch their interactions with one another closely.
A healthy whole food diet from early on in your dog’s life will help them to grow properly and at the correct rate for their breed and full grown size. Setting your dog up nutritionally right from puppyhood is imperative to building strong and healthy bones and joints. Older dogs and large breed dogs can benefit from bone and cartilage supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine.
Exercise your dog regularly, so they have safe opportunities to exert their energy frequently. Doing so can help prevent future injuries.
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