Just as human bones fracture and break, so, too, do dogs’ bones. These injuries may be the result of an accident, such as falling or running into something, but sometimes there are other contributors such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When dogs are low on vitamins A, B, D, and calcium, their bones can weaken, leaving them more vulnerable to breaks and fractures. Old dogs are at greater risk for fractures, too, as their bones can become brittle.
Regardless of the cause, when a dog fractures a bone, you need to react quickly to keep the injury from worsening. You should start by limiting the movement of the injured body part. Then, transport your dog to the veterinarian while trying not to disturb the injured area.
Factors Affecting Treatment
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for a bone fracture. Rather, the treatment will be determined by a number of factors to include:
- Age. Young dogs heal quicker than older ones.
- Weight. A heavy dog may have more difficulty maintaining stability with the fracture.
- Health profile. If a dog is vibrant and healthy, their fracture will usually heal quicker than that of a dog who is dealing with other health problems.
- Fracture type. Complex fractures will take much longer to heal than simple ones.
Based on the above considerations, a fracture may be treated in the following ways:
Splints. Splints work well for minor fractures, such as greenstick fractures. With greenstick fractures, one side of the bone breaks and the other side merely bends. These are common in young dogs whose bones are soft and elastic. For these mild fractures, splints are a good choice to help straighten the bone and minimize movement.
Braces. Braces are often used with fractures to support bones and minimize further injury to surrounding tissues.
External fixators. These healing aids can be made of carbon fiber or metal. They have steel pins that penetrate the bone through the skin. These do not present a quick fix, but they are optimal for complex fractures that require longer to heal. An example would be an impacted fracture where one piece of bone penetrates another at the point of injury.
Plaster cast. This rigid cast immobilizes the broken bone, the upper joint, and lower joints. It’s most suitable for limb injuries.
Traction. Traction is not a very common treatment and is reserved for severe injuries. It involves slowly and gently pulling on a fractured body part using ropes, pulleys, and weights. Traction is used to hold bone fragments together until healing occurs.
Cage rest. This treatment involves minimal movement with the injured dog being kept in a cage while additional treatments (such as those mentioned above) are used to heal the bone. Cage rest is often prescribed when a dog sustains stable fractures around the ribs or pelvis or on the skull, back, and shoulder blades.
Your veterinarian can recommend the best treatment for your dog’s bone break or fracture. You will want to keep a close eye on your pet’s healing process. If things are going well, they should experience a reduction of pain and swelling. You should also notice that your pooch is becoming more active.
If there was a wound, discharge should become minimal, and you should see the wound start closing up. Try to prevent the dog from licking the wound or forcefully trying to remove the splint, fixators or cast. If your dog does not show signs of improvement, talk to your vet.
Preventing Bone Fractures
Dogs will be dogs, so you can’t squelch their energy and activity levels in order to prevent fractures. You can, however, do your best to minimize their risks for these injuries. Make sure to feed them a proper diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals to enhance bone development.
You should also allow your dog to play outside under sunlight, which can boost their vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps the dog’s body to balance calcium and phosphorus that facilitate bone growth. Without adequate vitamin D levels, your dog’s bones and muscles will suffer.
You should also seek out the best canine vitamin supplements. Good dog food is a place to start, but high quality supplements can fill in the nutritional gaps and ensure that your dog is getting the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and well.