Dog Bone Fractures

If your dog's skeletal structure is subject to unusual levels of stress, or if your pet gets in some kind of an accident, a dog bone fracture may occur. Fractures range from mild to fatal, depending upon the location of the fracture and the type of break. In all cases, dog bone fractures require immediate medical attention in order to prevent further complications from arising and to treat the break properly. Continue reading for a general overview of the types, symptoms and treatments for dog bone fractures.

The Four Primary Types of Fractures 

Dog bone fractures are typically classified into one of four categories based upon the severity and type of the fracture. The mildest fracture type is a hairline fracture, also referred to as a greenstick fracture. In this case, the bone in question is not broken into distinct pieces, but is only partially split. A hairline fracture is not immediately severe, but it frequently leads to more complicated and painful fractures if left untreated. 

Closed fractures occur when the bone breaks into distinct pieces, but the skin itself is not broken. There may or may not be any visible indication of the fracture. 

Compound fractures refer to breaks in the bone when the skin is also broken. Portions of the fractured bone will be visible through the broken skin. Compound fractures may be the most painful type of fractures for your pet, and they require emergency attention. 

The fourth and final type of fracture, the epiphyseal fracture, refers to a separation of the soft section of a growing bone, called the growth plate. Because these fractures only occur in growing bones, they affect young dogs exclusively. The thigh bones and upper leg bones are the most common locations for epiphyseal fractures. 

Symptoms of Dog Bone Fractures 

Dog bone fractures may present a variety of symptoms, depending upon the type and location of the fracture. In limb bone fractures, which are the most common, your dog will avoid placing any weight at all upon the limb. This is distinguished from less severe injuries like sprains, because dogs will tend to walk with a limp but still place some weight upon the limb in these cases. In the case of compound fractures, watch for blood and open wounds in the skin. Closed fractures and hairline fractures are difficult to diagnose visually, although your dog will indicate pain in the location of the fracture. 

Be careful when dealing with a dog that has experienced a fractured bone. Dogs that may be generally calm and friendly may display erratic and even aggressive behavior when in pain. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Bone Fractures 

Dog bone fractures are diagnosed with a physical examination and by x-ray. Treatment depends upon the type of fracture and its location, but typically involves setting the bone and a mandatory rest period. In some cases, a cast is sufficient to set the bone, but in others bone pins may be best. In the case of compound fractures, it is important also to prevent and treat any resulting infections. 

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a bone fracture, take him to a veterinarian for immediate examination and treatment.