What to Do if Your Dog Breaks a Bone

Your dog is a part of your family, and you don’t want anything to ever happen to her. Unfortunately, illness and injury can occur in dogs just like it can in humans, even when you are very careful with your furry friend.

Broken bones are just one of the many problems that can afflict dogs, and they are sadly more common than you might think.

Dog suffering from a broken bone

Dogs are most likely to suffer a broken bone due to an impact (such as being struck by a vehicle) or a fall. However, puppies, older dogs, and those with other health conditions may be more prone to breaking bones due to mundane causes as well. Very small dogs can even suffer a broken bone if they’re stepped or tripped on by a human.

In this article, you’ll learn the basics of what to do when your dog breaks a bone. Read through this information to prepare yourself so you’ll know how to respond if this ever occurs.

Remain Calm

Your dog is scared and in pain, and you’re likely scared, too. However, you need to stay calm enough to handle the situation until your dog has been seen and treated by the vet.

Most broken bones are obvious. They will fracture through the skin and may be a very bloody mess. If you see this, you’ll know your dog has a broken bone.

It Might Be An Internal Break

However, some broken bones occur internally and never break the skin. If you notice your dog whining or yelping when part of her body is touched, if there is unexplained swelling in your dog’s body, or if she refuses to walk on a certain leg no matter what, she may have a broken bone.

Try to Move Your Dog to a Safe Location Indoors

Move your dog to a safe, indoor location. Understand that she is in pain and is very likely to bite. She may also be in shock, depending on the severity of the injury. Be careful when trying to move her.

Call The Emergency Vet Right Away

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

Write down as much information as you can remember about the cause of the broken bone. Was it a fall? Was your dog struck by something? Is there a possibility of other injuries, or is this the only one?

Don’t Play Veterinarian

Do not try to set the bone, and do not try to put any creams, ointments, or sprays on the injury. Your vet will handle all of this. If you try to do it, your dog may become more agitated and could bite you.

If your dog is bleeding significantly, you may need to wrap the injury carefully with a clean towel or old shirt and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Many dogs will need to be muzzled in order for you to do this, as the pain will cause them to bite.

Get Help in Transporting Your Dog

If at all possible, bring someone with you who can help you on the way to the vet. Your dog should be kept warm on the way, and the broken bone should be elevated as much as it can be.

What The Emergency Vet Will Do

The vet will assess your dog and the extent of her injuries. Based on many factors, the vet will suggest either having the bone repaired, 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 to have this done.

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.

Recovery Time for a Broken Dog Bone

After your dog’s bone has been repaired, she will need a lot of time to recover. She will be fitted for a cast and will potentially need physical therapy to get back to normal.

Your dog should not be allowed to run, jump, or play until she has healed. However, she should be walked and exercised gently according to the vet or physical therapist’s recommendations.

Your vet may also instruct you to place cold packs on the dog’s injury or regularly offer a gentle massage. If your vet tells you to do these things, be sure to keep up with them. However, if you aren’t told to try these treatments by your vet, then it’s best to just let the bone heal on its own without intervention.

It will likely take a couple of months for your dog’s bone to heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, she may be able to have the cast removed sooner than this, or she may need to leave it on longer.

With the cast on, your dog will likely also need a cone (e-collar) to prevent her from licking or chewing on the cast. While this may make her unhappy, it is critical to prevent damage to the cast or having her eat something that she should not.

Your dog will not be happy about wearing a cast when she starts to feel better, so spend extra time loving on her to help her feel as comfortable as possible.

Veterinary Emergency Group Can Help

When your dog breaks a bone, it can be very difficult to stay calm and stop panicking. However, if the broken bone is the only issue, keep in mind that your dog is very likely to make a full recovery with the help of an emergency vet like VEG.

You will need to carefully follow all of the guidelines your vet gives you to help your dog recover, and you may need to give her medication for some time to help her manage the pain. Your vet may also instruct you to keep an eye out for symptoms of arthritis in the broken bone after it heals.

Broken bones are not the most common dog injury, but they still occur frequently. Armed with the information above, you’ll be prepared to help your dog through the healing process if she ever breaks a bone.

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About VEG

VEG is a network of Emergency Veterinarians located across the country. We are dedicated to helping people and their pets when they need it most. If your pet is ever in an emergency situation, use the link below to find our nearest location so we can get your pet the help they need.