We see remarkably few broken bones at the London Veterinary Clinic, mostly because dogs are efficiently kept on their leads when near traffic. We see occasional fractures in carts that fall from high windows, usually in the first warm days of spring. In a closed fracture the break is not visible but causes pain and swelling. If it affects a long bone the pet cannot bear weight on that leg. Young pets can break their bones, much the same as a fresh living branch cracks but does not separate when you bend it. This is called a greenstick fracture.
We always treat shock before attending to broken bones. If your pet has an accident, remove it from danger and control obvious blood loss (see First Aid) Avoid being bitten. Cover open wounds, preferably with sterile dressing but if that is not available, use a clean towel. Try to avoid movement at the site of the fracture. Heavy towelling usually provides sufficient support for travelling to us. It splinting is necessary, don’t try to straighten a break. Just wrap newspaper or other material around the leg, above and below the fracture as much as possible, hold the splint in place with tape, shoelaces etc and transport immediately to us.
Diagnosis and treatment
We will give medications to control shock and pain and intravenous fluids, or blood, as necessary. When we sure there are no more serious life-threatening injuries we will attend to the freacture. X-rays reveal the degree of damage, for example how shattered a bone is. While some fractures can be realigned and simply splinted with a cast, others need surgical correction with metal plates, pins, wires, screws or even by external devices called fixators. Gary Clayton Jones is responsible for fracture repairs.