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What are Fixation of Fractured Ribs?

Fractured ribs largely occur in dogs involved in traumatic events and very rarely happen in any other instance.

A dog can suffer broken ribs from being hit by a car, being attacked by other animals or, sadly, being assaulted by their owners or other people.

If your dog is suffering from a rib fracture, you need to take your pet immediately to a vet clinic for treatment. Failing to do so could result in further harm or even death.

The most common treatment for a general rib fracture is rest, allowing the fractured bone to heal naturally. A more serious injury may require splints or major surgery.

Fixation of Fractured Ribs Procedure in Dogs

If you notice your dog might have fractured ribs, there are a few preparatory steps you might take before you head to your local vet clinic. Those include:

Muzzling the dog, but only if it doesn't affect breathing. This sounds like a weird step for many owners whose dogs aren't aggressive, but you must consider that a dog with fractured ribs will feel weakened by the condition and may become extremely defensive in this state.

Checking for open wounds. What you're looking for is any bone going through the skin. If you notice one, you should only cover it with a clean cloth or gauze and wrap the entire chest area in a clean sheet.

Avoid carrying your dog in a way that impacts the chest area. In a severe rib fracture, you may notice your dog has a bulging chest which could be hard or soft. If it's hard, it may be the end of a rib; if it's soft, your dog's lungs could be punctured and will require immediate attention by a vet.

Once you arrive at your local vet clinic, the veterinarian will take chest X-rays and ultrasounds if any lung damage is apparent.

Serious rib fractures can be surgically repaired. Otherwise, your vet may work single fractures with pins and wires.

External fixation involves the use of pins that go through the dog's skin, above and below the rib fracture. These pins then connect to one another and work as external fixators.

Internal fixation involves the use of pins, wire, plate, and screws to stabilize the broken rib(s). As the fixation procedures are surgical, anesthesia is required.

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Efficacy of Fixation of Fractured Ribs in Dogs

In a standard rib fracture, after being discharged from the clinic, rest and keeping the dog quiet are extremely effective methods in repairing the ribs permanently. During the healing process, even though the ribs may technically be repaired or repairing by themselves, the dog may favor certain positions when sitting or lying down. Owners should be careful since the dog may yelp in pain if touched, and the rib area may feel strange under the skin.

In a more severe rib fracture which involves the chest wall or lungs, the dog's chest may be weakened and may induce other conditions such as thoracic trauma or pulmonary contusions.

Pulmonary contusions have been known to occur after a blunt force impacts the chest area, whether that's originated from another dog, animal or human; a vehicle, or a weapon.

If your dog's breathing is labored or sounds harsh, the initial rib injury may have caused further chest damage, even though the initial rib fracture may be fixed. Those new mild pulmonary contusions may not require treatment, but you shouldn't be the judge of that. Consult your veterinarian since the dog may require extra oxygen, or at the very serious end, a ventilation machine to help the animal breathe.

Aside from those considerations, the result of fixing fractured ribs is relatively straightforward.

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Fixation of Fractured Ribs Recovery in Dogs

After a fracture occurs, a blood clot will form around the bone to prevent bleeding. This clot will then turn into granulation tissue to aid in bone formation. The inflammation lasts around three to four days before the bone forms a callus and broken ends begin to join. During this grow and repair stage, your dog must remain quiet and inactive.

Your job as a dog owner is to keep him quiet, limit his exercise and administer any prescribed pain medication.

The healing process may take weeks, and recovery time depends on the seriousness of the fracture or fractures. During the healing process, you will likely have to schedule follow-up appointments with your vet, which may include additional X-rays, general health exams, and different analgesic prescriptions.

Puppies heal very well from general rib fractures in around two to four weeks, as their bones are still developing and they have more bone building cells that generate a faster healing process. Older dogs take a little extra time, with an estimate between six and twelve weeks.

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Cost of Fixation of Fractured Ribs in Dogs

Cost can vary extensively. General fractures can be as inexpensive as two regular vet appointments plus the cost of painkillers, for a total of around $150, while treating a more severe rib fracture or fractures which require surgery can cost from $1,200 to $5,000.

There are quite a few variables when it comes to knowing the likely cost of treatment. A straightforward rib fracture with no pulmonary contusions, lung abrasions or flail chest is likely to be inexpensive, but it's hard to know whether your dog might need further pain medication, or if your pet will need additional X-rays or ultrasounds. On the other hand, with a more severe rib fracture, or an open fracture, the cost is going to be a lot higher and may even hit $5,000. Your dog might need to be on a ventilator for additional oxygen, may require several surgeries, and the after-care could include several trips to the vet for X-rays. Pain medication will also be required for a longer period, which will add to the cost.

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Dog Fixation of Fractured Ribs Considerations

Never try to assess a rib fracture by yourself, whether it seems serious or not. You should always have it examined by a vet. The risk of not doing so can very likely lead to extreme discomfort, lung and chest problems, or even death. Ribs that don't heal properly or aren't properly checked by vets can also become misaligned and may, in time, injure your dog's internal organs.

If the fracture is adequately corrected, either with rest or surgery, your dog will be able to live a healthy and happy life. Relapse is unlikely, especially in younger dogs.

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Fixation of Fractured Ribs Prevention in Dogs

Since almost all rib fractures in dogs occur after a blunt trauma, any prevention measures should be directed to prevent those injuries. For instance, providing a fully fenced section to protect the dog from wandering into the street and exercising your dog in a safe environment are two ways to prevent potential attacks from other dogs, and being hit by cars.

Aside from that, owners might consider looking into premium dietary options which can help strengthen the dog's bones and muscles. Although it can be more expensive, premium dog food will enhance your dog's health, immune defenses, and wellbeing.

To strengthen your dog's bones, you can feed your pet a diet rich in calcium and phosphate. Those ingredients will encourage healthy bones and muscles, but before starting to feed your pet any new products, be sure to consult your vet.

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Fixation of Fractured Ribs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Lambo

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Shitzu poodle

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2 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy Breathing
Cant Move Legs

I accidentally slammed the door on my puppy who is 2 months. Took him to the vet did xrays He has a fractured rib and something is wromy with his spine he is paralyzed I think. He can't walk on his two back legs. They drag on the floor his breathing is heavy at times. He is on pain medication as well as steroids. But why is the heavy breathing? Also is there any possible way he will be able to walk again? Please help.

Sept. 22, 2018

Lambo's Owner

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Squeaks

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Mutt

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2 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking, Whimpering, Not Eating
When Held To Be Fed She Yelps
Breathing Trouble

I have a puppy that I think has a fractured rib but she's only a few weeks old and can barely walk. She keeps yelping in pain when she's held to be fed, she won't eat, and she she whimpers with every breath.If she has a fractured rib what are the best options for her treatment?

July 24, 2018

Squeaks' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Best options for treatment for Squeaks depends on how many ribs are damaged and what the severity of the damage is. Without seeing her and having x-rays, there isn't a way to recommend any treatment for her, unfortunately. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as she sounds like she is in quite a bit of pain, and there may be treatment that she needs to heal. I hope that she is okay.

July 24, 2018

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Cali

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schnauzer

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Cyring Wimpering

I accidentally slammed the door on my dogs upper rib, right behind her front arms. She's been taking it very slow, barked twice in about three days (she's a barker). I've been giving her pain medication, and been not letting her jump or try to run. She's a very active dog, but not at the moment. Her breathing seems to be fine, and her gums dont seem pale pink. I've always been very careful about checking for my dogs coming and going threw the door, I just wasn't thinking. I feel awful and I'm keeping a very close eye on her, anf making sure everythings ok, I'm just still very concerned. She doesn't limp, but she can't run, bark or walk fast. Thank you so much for your time.

March 29, 2018

Cali's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Cali I cannot determine the severity of the injury or whether it is just a soft tissue injury or if there is a bone fracture; if you haven’t done so already you should consult with your Veterinarian for an examination and a review of any pain relief. Rest is best and Cali’s movement should be restricted with no running, jumping or climbing stairs; take her outside to do her business on a lead. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 29, 2018

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Carma

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Pit bull

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5 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

I accidentally ran over my puppy's hind part, she can move but whimpers in pain.she tries to get up but her back legs won't get up, she moves her legs but not much else. What can I do?

March 2, 2018

Carma's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should visit your Veterinarian immediately for an examination and x-ray to determine the severity of the injury, without an examination I cannot give you any indication of the severity of the injury. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 2, 2018

You are a horrible pet owner

April 10, 2018

Rachael K.

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Dexter

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Miniature Pinscher chiuaua

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking

How would i know if my dog is feeling more pain than the prior rib fracture? He is lathargic and kinda shaking. Could that be from the muscle relaxer/pain meds?

Dec. 19, 2017

Dexter's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for contacting us about Dexter. Without knowing more about his situation, I find it hard to comment on your question... did he have a repair of fractured ribs? Has he re-fractured his ribs? I'm not sure what pain medication or muscle relaxants he's on, so can't comment on any side effects, although lethargy and shaking are not typical side effects of very many common drugs. if he is acting this way, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian and make sure that he is okay, that he isn't having a reaction to his medications, and that he isn't painful after what is probably a painful experience. i hope he recovers well.

Dec. 19, 2017

My dog was hit by a car in the butt. She limped off first so I helped her in the car she'll then jumped over the seat I drove home she jumped over two more seats and went in the house she started coughing like she had a hairball and puked up some saliva and blood not very much of either though it's been almost 2 hours she has eaten had a bowel movement and when I feel all over her body forcefully she has no pain she that's me rub and push on her body everywhere with kisses in my face but she keeps acting like she has a hairball every so often she is a Colby blue nose pitbull she is very big and she has a lot of weight on her. She is laying down now we're keeping a close eye on her. Will take any advice thank you

Feb. 20, 2018

Scott R.

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Daisy Lou

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Chorkie-pug

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Biting
Pain When Lifted
Yelping At Slightest Touch

Just got home from the emergency vet due to an attack by something. We let her out to go potty and when I went to let her back in she yelped. I saw her sweater was wet so I ended up cutting it off due to Everytime I tried to take it off she would yelp and run and hide and cry. I knowticed her rib poking outward so er vet we went. We follow up tomorrow with our vet. But she has puncture wounds and flail ribs. Right now on antibiotics antiflamitory and pain med and a wrap Should I expect surgery? Due to flail ribs they are doing xrays tomorrow. She seems to want to sit up than lay. Luckly she doesn't seem to have breathing problems so far she is a Yorkie Chihuahua pug mix

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Sofeeyia

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Chichuchua

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My sofeeyia was held down on her stomach I believe to hard on the vets examine table by his assisted while the Vet Dr. was looking into her ears. & might of bruised her ribs...Hurts to the touch when i gracefully tried picking her up like i always have.

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J

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Doodle

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11 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bulged Side

My dog fell off our bed. She's acting normal and is playing, eating and everything but it feels like one of her sides is bulged a little. Do you think she broke a rib?

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Fletcher

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Raspy Breathing
Slowness
Yelps When Yeld

My dog has been yelping when we hold him and touch his left ribs and I've noticed a small bump on his ribs. His breathing sometimes is raspy and he is walking slower than usual. Could it be a fractured rib?

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Howl

dog-breed-icon

Terrier cross

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fractured Ribs
Lung Contusion

My dog was attacked 3 weeks ago but another dog that slipped its collar. My dog has 3-4 fractured ribs and some lung problems resulting from that. From his checkup today his breathing is fine, however, his ribs have not rejoined. The vet said they will not rejoin but are hoping the ends become rounded so it is won't pierce anything in the future. Can a dog live normally without the bone rejoining?