Broken bones in a dogs and cats are not uncommon injuries. Even though any bone in the body can be broken, the most common fractures occur to the long bones of the legs and the pelvis. Fractures are usually the result of a major trauma. In dogs the most common trauma resulting in broken bones is being hit by a car. Sadly, most cats that are hit by a car do not survive. In cats, the most common fractures that get repaired are the ones that occur in the home involving a fall.
If your pet has broken bones, first and foremost he will be treated for life threatening injuries. Once stabilized, and after x-rays and other diagnostic tests, the fracture repair will be addressed.
Simple fractures that occur in young animals and are not displaced (aligned well) can often be splinted or casted. Patient selection in these cases is important since being immobile and keeping splint/casts clean and dry are critical to the successful outcome in these cases.
Most fractures need surgical repair. The kind of repair can vary greatly depending on the fracture. External fixation, where a frame outside of the patient holds pins in place, can be placed to realign and stabilize fractures. More commonly internal fixation is most appropriate. Internal fixation, using pins, wires, plates, and screws, are often used in combination to surgically repair broken bones
After care for all fracture repairs is critical for successful outcomes. Pet owners are key to helping their pet recover. After surgical repair, most pets are able to walk comfortably rather quickly. However, they cannot be allowed to run, jump, or play unrestricted during recovery. Recovery usually takes 6-8 weeks. Once an x-ray shows the bone has healed, animals can usually return to normal activity.
Even in the best hands, complications from fracture repair do occur. These can include infection, breakage of the plates, screws, or pins, poor bone healing, and arthritis in fractures that involve joints. All potential complications will be discussed with pet owners at time of surgery.
Fracture repair requires great expertise, experience, and skill. Dr Alec Land, at Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center, has over 30 years of fracture repair experience. It takes an entire team of experienced emergency veterinarians, emergency veterinary technicians, and skilled experienced surgeons to provide great care for your pet. Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center has treated hundreds of trauma patients with broken bones successfully.
Rona Shapiro, M.S., D.V.M.