First aid for a broken paw in a dog:
Before any manipulations with the dog (dressing or giving an anesthetic medication, moving to another place), you need to fix the dog’s jaw in a closed position with a bandage or thick rope. Even if the dog is very calm, when trying to touch the sore paw or pick it up, it can bite the owner due to pain. If the paw is completely loose, you can carefully fix it with a bandage and a ruler or stick (apply a splint). If the animal strongly resists, then it is not necessary to do this, so as not to aggravate the problem. With only one suspicion of a fracture (there is no visible damage, the dog is careful, but moves the damaged part of the body), you do not need to touch the site of injury. You cannot try to return a broken bone to its natural position! The purpose of the restraint is to prevent the dog from hurting itself further on the way to the clinic. The dog must be transported in a sparing position, which depends on the location of the injury. You need to sit / lay the pet so as not to load the broken bone. The puppy or small dog can be carried in the carrier.
In case of bleeding, it is necessary to apply a tourniquet above the injury site or a tight gauze bandage. If it takes longer than 20 minutes to get to the clinic, contact your veterinarian by phone. Your doctor will advise you on how to reduce pain and how to avoid complications associated with long-term transportation. If there is no bleeding, the dog is conscious and only the paw is injured, the count is not counted for minutes. You can safely choose a clinic, even if it is not very close to home, because help for a dog with a fracture cannot be provided everywhere. It is necessary for the dog to be examined by a surgeon and to be able to take x-rays.
How Long Does a Paw Fracture Heal in Dogs??
A broken paw in a dog usually heals in 1.5-2 months, and even faster in puppies. The coalescence time depends on the timeliness and correctness of the treatment, the age and breed of the dog. Fracture healing is slower in older dogs due to metabolic changes. Also, the paw can heal more slowly in dwarf dogs, for example, the toy terrier, Chihuahua, Yorkshire terrier, if the injury occurs in the area below the elbow or knee, where the muscle layer is thinner and blood circulation is worse. If an infection occurs, treatment is not carried out in time, or bone fragments are poorly fixed, healing is significantly prolonged in time or does not occur. It is necessary to take care of the paw, to prevent sudden jumps and loads for about six months, during which time the callus at the site of the fracture becomes even more durable.
Why plaster cast is not recommended for fractures in dogs
The plaster splint does not allow to accurately connect and hold the bone fragments for the required time. This leads to non-union of the fracture, limitation and loss of limb function. The dog may limp or not lean on the paw if the fracture does not heal properly. In addition, the plaster cast limits the dog’s support on the paw; it cannot walk normally in a splint throughout the required time of fixing the fracture, which is 1.5-2 months. During this time, blood circulation in the paw is disrupted, muscles atrophy. because of this, a fracture in a dog does not heal well, it takes a long time to recover or does not restore support on a paw at all. After treatment with surgery. the dog can rest on its paw for as long as a week after it. This helps maintain good blood circulation in the paw and accelerates fracture healing.
Pain relievers for fractures in dogs:
Pain medications for a fracture in a dog are recommended for use on the recommendation of a veterinarian in the postoperative period. Before the fracture is treated, the owner can give analgin on his own. The dose of analgin must be calculated for each specific animal, at home it is also not always possible to weigh the dog. Therefore, it is best to give pain relievers only after consulting a veterinarian. There are special pain relievers for dogs that are easier for animals to tolerate than drugs for humans and have fewer side effects.
There are several types of internal fixing:
- Pins. they are inserted into the tubular bone. Later they are not removed, but left for life.
- Kirchner spokes. they are inserted into the bone canal or the fragments of the condyles are fixed.
- Plates and screws. In this way, fractures in large dogs, comminuted fractures, fractures under a large layer of muscles and other options at the discretion of the surgeon are fixed.
Types of fractures in dogs:
There are several classifications according to the types and types of fractures. In the direction of the fracture relative to the axis:
- transverse (the bone is fractured perpendicular to the axis of the limb);
- oblique (at an angle to the axis);
- longitudinal (in the direction of the axis);
- spiral (with a violent screw-like movement of the limbs);
- crushed (with strong compression of the tubular bones along the axis).
Also, fractures are classified according to the degree of bone damage:
- cracks (the simplest type of fracture, requiring only external stabilization of the limb)
- complete fractures (with or without displacement)
And also they are open and closed. An open paw fracture in a dog is visible to the naked eye. There is a hole in the skin above the fracture site through which they can be seen.
Depending on the cause, fractures are
Pathological fractures can occur without a traumatic factor, with minor loads on the limb. For example, a calcium disorder or tumor can cause increased bone fragility and pathological fractures.
The article is presented only for acquaintance with common problems in adult dogs and puppies, which makes it possible to understand how they can be helped in the veterinary clinic. Correct treatment is a visit to the veterinarian and this should always be remembered.
Recovering a dog after a fracture
During the recovery period of the dog, the owner must provide the animal with peace, limit it from sudden movements. from jumping. Removal of stitches after surgery occurs on day 10. Removal of external metal structures in 1.5-2 months. Plates or other internal retainers are not always removed. But it is better, if possible, to do this anyway, so that there are no foreign objects left in the body that can cause a reaction from the tissues of the body. It is recommended to remove metal structures no later than 2-3 months after the operation, otherwise they may grow into the bone. and it becomes impossible to remove them. Full recovery and healing of a fracture in a dog occurs in 3-6 months.
How to tell if a dog has broken a paw?
The owners will be able to detect only an open fracture quickly and without additional diagnostics. It is simply impossible not to notice it. A fragment of a broken bone cuts through the skin and protrudes outward. In this case, bleeding is necessarily observed. A closed displaced fracture is also easy to see. The dog’s paw will change to its usual shape. It will hurt the animal to stand on it. A dense bump will be seen or felt at the site of the fracture.
Types of fractures
According to the severity and some other factors, the following types of fractures are distinguished:
- Unfinished (crack). The easiest option, which is almost impossible to detect without special diagnostics.
- Impacted. Most often, this is a fracture of the front paw in a dog that has jumped from a height. The weight of the body falls on the paws, and the bones cannot support it. Such an injury is not accompanied by severe damage to internal tissues, however, it requires the indispensable attention of a specialist.
- Closed without bias. Rather severe injury, accompanied by fever, redness and swelling at the site of injury. But the bone is held in place.
- Closed with offset. Very similar to the previous version. However, parts of the bone move from their place and between themselves. Such a fracture is dangerous due to the presence of significant internal injuries and hematomas.
- Open. A very difficult situation, accompanied by significant tissue damage, bleeding. Such a fracture of a paw in a dog is clearly visible visually, because part of the broken bone cuts through the skin and protrudes outward. An open fracture is often accompanied by rupture of muscles, ligaments and joints, lymphatic vessels, and blood loss.
How can a veterinarian help??
Treatment for a paw fracture in a dog begins with a diagnosis. The veterinarian will anesthetize the damaged area, conduct a visual examination, and be sure to take an x-ray. For a better assessment of the complexity of the fracture, X-rays are often taken in different projections. To determine internal damage, the doctor may suggest an ultrasound or MRI.
Common signs of a broken paw in a dog look like this:
- the animal holds the limb in weight, limps or does not step on the injured paw at all;
- the sore spot thickens, swells;
- the foot is in an unnatural position, bent or dangling;
- when moving the sore paw, you can hear the characteristic sound of rubbing the fragments against each other (bone crepitus);
- pet whines plaintively when trying to touch a limb.
In addition, the dog is lethargic, lies all the time, refuses food, her temperature is high. Symptoms of a broken paw in a dog are quite eloquent, and an attentive owner will detect them immediately. Even if you only noticed one or two signs from the list, there is a reason to visit a veterinary clinic.
How to give your dog first aid?
If there is an open wound in front of you, then it is very important to quickly stop the bleeding. This is done using a tourniquet. It is applied slightly above the wound and tightened tightly. For a tourniquet, a belt, rope, scarf, scarf, twisted bandage or other similar materials are suitable. It is very important to place a cloth or napkin under the tourniquet. If you tighten it directly on the paw, you can damage the skin and only add suffering to the four-legged friend.
Now you need to clean the wound from dust and dirt. A solution of “Furacilin”, “Miramistin”, hydrogen peroxide, “Chlorhexidine” and other antiseptics will do. Never use alcohol or other alcohol-based preparations. The dog may simply die from pain shock.
To resist the ingress of new dirt and infection, it is best to lightly tie the wound with a clean handkerchief or bandage it loosely. Also, the paw of the animal must be immobilized if possible. This will prevent the dog from moving the limb, so as not to aggravate his condition. To do this, you can impose an impromptu splint from scrap materials. A student’s ruler, a fairly wide stick, a small board, strips of plastic or thick cardboard, and other similar materials will do just fine.
Transport your pet to the hospital at rest. You can put the animal in the car, in the back seat. If the dog is small, it is permissible to place it in a rigid carrier or on the owner’s lap. It is important to ensure that the injured limb remains at rest and is not loaded. Do not try to straighten the protruding bone, use any ointments and other drugs.
What other fractures are there??
In the direction of the fracture in relation to the axis of damage are:
According to the force of the blow and the size of the fragments, injuries are:
- finely splintered;
- coarsely splintered;
A broken paw in a dog is treated surgically in more than 90% of cases. After anesthesia and the use of special drugs for muscle relaxation, the doctor sets the displaced bones and applies a special fixing bandage. It limits movement and promotes early wound healing. The use of plaster is very limited. It is extremely difficult to force a dog to take care of the cast and the paw itself. The animal tries by any means to remove the bandage and may receive additional damage.
Because bone injuries in animals rarely occur accidentally, they are very complex, often open and splintered. The best quality fractures heal when the fragments are correctly and tightly composed and securely fixed. All this is possible only with surgical intervention.
Bone fusion operations are called osteosynthesis. When performing them, the veterinary surgeon often uses a variety of devices: staples, screws, knitting needles, screws, pins, wires and plates. The latest “squeak” of veterinary surgery is the use of not metal, but polymer fixatives.
Also, during operations, special structures are used:
- Ilizarov apparatus. It consists of knitting needles and special metal rings that fix bones.
- Kishner’s apparatus. It is a structure of a metal rod and self-tapping rods. It is used when the installation of the Ilizarov structure is impossible. This happens in small dogs or when complex intra-articular fractures occur. In modern medicine, plastic rods and less traumatic self-tapping screws in the form of needles are used.
When these structures cannot be used, the post is placed directly inside the bone. He will stay there forever. In this case, the qualification of the surgeon must be of the highest.
Why do fractures happen?
According to the “canine” surgeons, there are only 2 main reasons leading to fractures of the limbs of the animal:
In the first variant, a fracture of a paw in a dog occurs due to a mechanical effect on the bone. It can be a bruise, an animal falling from a height, a strong blow, unsuccessful landings during training, a fight with relatives. A compound fracture of a dog’s hind paw is the result of a collision with a car, moped or bicycle. The fault may be the pinching of the paws by parts of the moving mechanism, falling into a trap and trying to escape from captivity. A separate line is fragmented fractures due to a bullet hit from service or hunting animals.
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The second option is a consequence of the deterioration of mineral metabolism due to improper nutrition or the age of the dog. The cause of the pathology can be osteoporosis, various neoplasms, the presence of destructive processes in bone tissues, various inflammations.
Broken paw in a dog, what to do?
If it happens that a cat or dog breaks a paw, you should immediately decide on the choice of treatment.
First of all, find out what kind of fracture it is. And whether you need operative (surgical) or conservative (non-surgical) care.
The fracture can be mechanical (the effect of a mechanical factor). The most common cases: a cat fell from a height, a dog was hit by a car, etc.
And pathological (structural changes and bone weakness). Most often, this type of fracture occurs with tumors in the bones, childhood rickets, senile osteoporosis, prolonged inflammation in the bones (osteomyelitis), etc.
The methodology for treating bone fractures in dogs and cats is similar in many ways. In the text, we will describe treatment regimens mainly for dogs, but they are all suitable for cats and other types of animals.
It seems that the gracefulness, flexibility, plasticity of dogs makes them invulnerable in everyday life, when they run and jump, engage in training with their owners. For a dog to hurt its paws, spine, hurt its head, it is not necessary to hit it with a car. The animal can simply slip and land unsuccessfully, turn around, collide with an obstacle and get injured.
Causes of injury
A broken paw in a dog occurs for many reasons:
Fragility of bones in artificially bred animals. Purebred dogs are valued much higher than ordinary animals, but they lose their health. Therefore, it is not necessary for the dog to be hit by a car, it may simply jump off the couch unsuccessfully, and you are already asking yourself the question: the dog has a broken paw, what to do?
most often animals are hit by vehicles;
dogs fall from a height;
a fight with rivals;
people were beaten;
Treatment of paw fractures
The examination begins with the introduction of pain relievers. The doctor examines the patient and prescribes the necessary examinations. As a rule, this is an X-ray, ultrasound. It is possible that not only the limb is damaged, because if it gets into an accident, the dog’s internal organs, traumatic brain injury, etc. can be damaged.
Almost all types of paw fractures in a dog require surgery. Applying only plaster is not enough. Natural self-preservation allows animals to emerge victorious from many dangerous situations. Therefore, if a dog ends up in a veterinary clinic, then things are bad. Usually always an open fracture. And in this case, bones are collected, tissues are sewn together. Gypsum will not keep an animal from trying to get rid of it. The dog will still try to walk more, so it can hurt itself. Bones heal best when all the fragments are clearly fixed, when they are correctly assembled. It is impossible to achieve all this with plaster alone, an operation is needed.
Help is needed only if the dog has an open paw fracture. Blood vessels can be damaged by sharp bone fragments. It is important to stop the bleeding and get your dog to a doctor. They stop the blood like this. with a handkerchief, rope, everything that is at hand, bandage the paw above the wound and bandage it tightly. The wound should not be touched in any case. Bandage the place above the wound. If there is a tourniquet, it is best to use it to stop the blood. But under it must be placed a napkin, cloth, scarf, so as not to damage the skin. It is advisable to fix the injured limb in order to limit mobility as much as possible. This is not bone reduction. The less the dog will put stress on the sore paw, the less harm it will cause to itself. The paw is tied to a wooden board, plywood, so that the dog is motionless. If you cannot cope with this on your own. you do not have the necessary materials at hand, you are afraid that you will harm the dog, it is better not to touch anything. Just stop the bleeding and take the dog to the surgeon immediately.
Varieties of surgery
The most common types of surgery:
– INTRAMEDULLARY OSTEOSYNTHESIS. Intraosseous stabilization of fragments with long metal rods: pins, needles, nails, etc. It is widely used in veterinary practice. This is due to the relative ease of operations: no special equipment is required, the materials themselves, implants, are quite affordable and cheap. BUT! This method has many limitations. First: the stabilization of bone fragments is not always satisfactory; secondly: the transosseous conduction of the metal is slightly anatomical; third: the animal does not immediately use the limb. Therefore, the methods of intramedullary osteosynthesis are used by us, in the total mass, in no more than 30% of cases.
– NAPOUS OSTEOSYNTHESIS. Dense and anatomical fixation of fracture fragments using metal plates. With comminuted fractures. often an indispensable method. And its main advantage. early functional load. The animal begins to walk on a broken leg immediately after surgery. And this is one of the components of success. The method is used often, in about 50% of cases.
– EXTRA FOCUS OSTEOSYNTHESIS. External fixation devices. Their main “plus”. the possibility of closed correction of the fracture during fusion. But there are also “disadvantages”. this is a more laborious postoperative period for the owners of the animal and the constant possibility of infection. The method is used by us in no more than 20% of the total volume of cases.
Conservative help. Non-surgical treatment of fractures. The methods are mainly represented by the options for applying support and immobilizing bandages (plaster cast). By the way, mineral gypsum is now almost completely replaced by synthetic thermoplastic polymers. Conservative treatment is successful for very simple, closed fractures of the hand, forearm, and foot. In general, plaster (plastic) is used relatively rarely in animals for fractures. Of the total mass, the application of plaster splints is effective for fractures of the “green branch” type. This is when the bone was bent rather than broken.
There are several techniques in each technique. So there are many treatment options for bone fractures. For clarity, this section will consist entirely of photographs, X-rays and explanations to them.
External osteosynthesis. Fixation of bone fragments and their fragments using plates. straight, curly, with limited contact, with angular stabilization, reinforced, etc. We have to collect fractures with plates very often. This is a good method. Let the plate be less strong than a pin or a nail, but more anatomical, which ultimately affects the quality of the fusion.
Diaphyseal oblique comminuted fracture of the leg bones. Drathaar. 10 years. Trauma. Overlaid titanium plate with limited contact. Supplement with cerclages. On the picture. patient 4 days after surgery. Uses a limb. (Early functional loading is one of the components of successful bone fusion).
The plate must be strong enough to take all the load from the limb onto itself. An incorrectly selected plate for strength can break. The calculation of the length and thickness of the plate is done in each case of using bone osteosynthesis. It is also important to determine the dynamic strength of the bone itself, so that the screws screwed into the bone are well retained in it.
Dogs of miniature breeds (Yorkies, Toy, Chi-hua-hua, etc.) have a weak spot in the peripheral skeleton. lower third of the forearm. Very often, a fracture on the front paws occurs in this place. over, to obtain a fracture, sometimes very insignificant loads are required. Often, a simple jump from the couch or from the hands leads to a fracture of the front paw.
The pictures show a fracture of the bones of the forearm, a plate has been placed. Before the paw had time to heal, a similar fracture occurred on the other paw. Now the plates are on both limbs and, possibly, due to the fragility of the bones, they will be left for a long time or for life. These plates do not cause discomfort and are lightweight. The animal can calmly live and move with them. But, only on condition that they have taken root and are not rejected by the body. Rejection of foreign material is rare, but it does happen.
Here is the same fracture of the lower third of the forearm bones, only in a large dog. It happened as a result of a car injury. People often have such fractures when falling from roller skates or from a bicycle; doctors sometimes jokingly call them “spring fractures”.
A sufficiently powerful plate is installed here, because it must take on not only axial, but also lateral loads. Such plates are removed after 1.5. 2 months.
Skeletal osteosynthesis for fracture of the shin bones in a raccoon. The fracture occurred as a result of the fall of the beast from the 8th floor. In the first, preoperative picture, damage to the pelvic bones is also visible. A sufficiently strong plate was imposed on the fracture of the lower leg, because the beast is strong, wild and will not take care of the limb until the moment of fusion. In such cases, a deliberately increased structural strength is required.
And why, then, does not everyone put the fortified options? The fact is that the thicker and stronger the plate, the more it weighs. That is, it has an increased volume and mass, which can also negatively affect the quality of the splicing. All techniques have their limits.
For comminuted fractures, compression plates are applied. The screws in these plates are installed at angles to the bone. This achieves a tight compression of the bone fragments. This method is called “compression-distraction”. Its purpose is to eliminate the slightest instability between the fragments. Immobility of bones in the area of their fusion. the main condition for success in complex fractures.
Of course, plates, especially those located subcutaneously, can sometimes cause some concern to their owner. On
Intramedullary osteosynthesis, intraosseous stabilization, IMOS. It is used less frequently than bone synthesis. The method is often more durable than plate assembly of fractures, but it is also less anatomical. Nevertheless, there are cases when IMOS is indispensable.
Intramedullary osteosynthesis of an oblique non-splintered epiphyseal femur fracture at 2 months. kitten (the place of the fracture is indicated by an arrow). Stabilization with a Bogdanov nail. A closed technique was applied. That is, the holding of the nail was carried out without incisions in the skin and access to the fracture site.
In this case, this is the technique of choice, since the patient is still very young and his bones are thin and weak. No screws and knitting needles can hold such bones.
Plating a multislice fracture of the tibia in a cat intramedullary osteosynthesis.
In this case, the plate acts as a fixation of the fragments, and the main load is taken by the rod inside the bone.
Shin fractures. some of the most difficult in the peripheral skeleton. A very precise and firm reduction is required to avoid instability and rotation. Fragments of the damaged bone are “pressed” into each other with the help of a plate and fixed.
With these techniques, you can and should start walking immediately after the operation.
Radial bone intramedullary osteosynthesis. Postoperative radiographic view. High contact and strength. But we do not use such techniques so often. The fact is that the needle in this position injures the wrist joint somewhat. Therefore, it should be removed as soon as possible. Yorkshire Terrier. 1 year. Falling from hands.
If necessary, polymer splints are applied to the limbs for the period of fusion. They enhance the stability of the fracture from stress.
Bilateral intramedullary synthesis of the femur. High-altitude injury. the cat fell from the 10th floor. As a result. multiple limb fractures and soft tissue injuries. On x-rays, dark lesions are visible in the soft tissues of the thigh. These are cavities resulting from extensive tissue tears. muscles, tendons, blood vessels, etc.
When the patient was admitted to the clinic, he was diagnosed with severe hemodynamic disorders of the extremities. Making wide incisions in the skin and muscles to access fractures and insert plates was dangerous in this situation. But, it is also impossible to leave fractured bones in an unstabilized state. Therefore, the choice of the technique in this case fell on IMOS.
Broken Bones in Dogs: How the Healing Process Works
Distal epiphyseal fracture of the femur, bilateral. Such fractures occur mainly in young animals under one year old. Their bone growth zones have not yet been closed. these are areas due to which the bone grows and lengthens. There are many immature bone cells in the growth zones, due to which the growth zone is a focal structural softening, that is, it consists, as it were, of semi-cartilage. In these places, the bone is most vulnerable to displacement and fracture.
The first photo shows a preoperative picture. The thigh bones are “stumps” (indicated by arrows), then there should have been a knee joint, but it is broken off. In this case, it is not possible to attach a small and still soft joint to the bone using plates. And here again IMOS comes to the rescue. The synthesis is made using steel spokes. The prognosis is favorable. Due to non-closed growth zones, fusion occurs very quickly and firmly.
In necessary cases, for example, with multi-splinter fractures, wire cerclages are applied to the bone. In the photo, they are visible in the form of rings. But in general, if possible, they should be avoided overlapping. The thing is, they are very difficult to take off. They can literally “grow” into the bone, violating its trophism and strength.
Fracture of three toes on the cat’s hind paw. Falling from the 11th floor. Despite the frightening appearance, this type of fracture is not dangerous. Due to the low functional load on the foot, in animals, full recovery awaits. A closed connection of the fragments and the imposition of an external splint or plaster is sufficient. No signs of discomfort and lameness in the projections.
Chinchilla shin fracture. Despite the technical possibility of connecting bones using IMOS, there is one problem. Namely: the high risk of aseptic necrosis of bone tissue with open surgical techniques. In other words, the bone, even with a good connection of the fragments, may not grow together and even dissolve due to hemodynamic disturbances.
Vessels in the limbs of small animals, such as chinchillas, mice, rats, squirrels, etc., are also very small and thin, and are easily damaged at the time of fracture. But even if the blood supply to the limb after the fracture remains at a satisfactory level, it can be completely disrupted after surgical access to the bone. The incision of soft tissues for access to the fracture site leads to injury to the vessels and capillaries, which, as a result, can lead to a lack of blood supply to the limb. Deficiency of blood supply can cause unsatisfactory union of the fracture, dissolution of bones and even, in severe cases, to the death of a limb. The danger of a shortage of blood supply is the higher, the lower the fracture site is from the body. That is, the risk of deficiency is higher on the lower leg than on the thigh.
If IMOS is the only option for such fractures, then it is performed in a closed way. That is, without prompt access, by introducing a wire through the skin under X-ray control.
Pathological fracture of the calcaneus as a result of osteoporosis. The calcaneus in this state is a loose bone semi-collapsed structure, which is useless to restore. The only way out in this situation. transposition of the Achilles tendon, to preserve the functionality of the limb.
A break or transposition of the Achilles tendon requires prolonged immobilization of the hock joint. One of the options for creating immobility of the joint is shown in the photo. Temporary immobility of the joint is required for successful tendon fusion, which takes at least 6 weeks.
There are situations when you have to deliberately saw the bones and connect them in a new way, to give them new configurations. Such techniques, for example, are the elimination of hallux valgus or a change in the plateau of the tibia (pictured).
Such operations are performed when the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee is ruptured. Their purpose. change the inclination of the joint in such a way as to relieve the ligamentous apparatus. To do this, a wedge is cut out of the tibia and the bones are reconnected with the optimal arrangement of the articular surfaces. Before the operation, all parts of the joint are carefully measured to determine the angle and distance to which the plateau of the tibia should be displaced.
There are situations when bones grow together on their own after seemingly complex fractures. Here’s an example: once a homeless dog (pictured) came to our appointment, active, no lameness. Complaints. not overgrowing fistula on the back of the thigh. This happens when there is a foreign object in the thickness of tissues, for example, a bullet. X-rays were taken. According to the picture. a large enough fragment of a femur was found to be a foreign object! He turned out to be “superfluous” in the fracture fusion. It is surprising that a rather complex hip fracture in 2 places healed independently, crookedly, but of sufficient quality. Even the length of the bone was not affected! We just have to extract the extra bone fragment and that’s it (pictured below).
External fixation devices. The method is also represented by a wide variety of techniques.
Ilizarov apparatus, KUD-SAI apparatus and other rod means of external compression-distraction fixation.
Their main advantage. the possibility of compression or stretching of bone fragments at different periods of fusion. That allows you to eliminate deformities and carry out skeletal traction with defects in the length of the bone. But with all the advantages, these devices can be quite cumbersome, which limits their use in veterinary practice in small animals.
often, extrafocal synthesis in small animals is carried out with the help of pins fixed from the outside with self-hardening plastic (X-ray view in the photo). This method of immobilization without the possibility of correction. this is a minus. But the whole construction turns out to be very light. this is a plus. The poles also include the possibility of long-term wearing of the structure and the possibility of its removal without anesthesia.
Outside, extrafocal synthesis on plastic looks like sticks, parallel to the paw, but not touching its skin.
Extrafocal fusion in case of jaw fracture.
It happens that with multifocal fractures of the lower jaw, this method of assembly. the only solution to the problem. Despite the seeming bulkiness of the external “bumper”, it is well tolerated by animals. It is allowed to take food with such a design immediately after the operation.
There are situations when the only way out. removal. This happens with purulent-septic or hemodynamic lesions, accompanied by deep tissue destruction. Or if it is technically impossible to recover. Or with cancer of the bone tissue. Or as a consequence of a traumatic amputation.
Of course, it is not possible to talk about all the methods and techniques for treating skeletal injury on the pages of the site, so let’s move on to individual cases.
Generalized osteochondrosis. The vertebrae are motionlessly fused with osteophytes. Neurological disorders. Boxer 14 years old. Such diseases. also the work of a trauma surgeon.
An old (about a year old) bullet wound in the fore paw of a cat. There was septic inflammation at the site of the injury for a long time. In the picture. a foreign object in the tissues of the paw and an incipient bone tumor. Considering the possible malignancy of the process, an urgent operation was performed. extraction of an object and resection of a bone fragment with cancer. The limb and its functions are preserved.
Bilateral intra-articular fracture of the hock joints. External reinforcement with thermoplastic. Joint immobilization for 30 days.
The term “intra-articular fracture” is often misused. Here is a dislocation of the wrist joint on the X-ray, although it looks like a fracture. This type of dislocation can be successfully repaired without surgery. But, of course, not in all cases. Sometimes a full-fledged joint stabilization operation is required.
Here is a complete fracture of the radius at the level of the elbow joint, an intercondylar fracture of the humerus. This can be attributed to intra-articular fractures.
Dislocation of the shoulder joint with destruction of the glenoid cavity of the scapula.
Osteosarcoma of the distal epiphysis of the humerus. Despite the radiopaque appearance and apparent density, this neoplasm destroys the bone, which ultimately leads to a pathological fracture.
Signs of a fracture
The most obvious sign is that the animal is behaving strangely. It cannot step on a paw, howls with pain, with a closed fracture, swelling immediately forms. It is impossible not to notice an open fracture. The animal cannot straighten its paw, it hurts to touch the sore spot. Worse than a comminuted fracture when you hear your bones crunch.
The main signs of a paw fracture in dogs are:
cracks. carefully examine the paw, the animal is in pain, but even a little active. It is important not to confuse it with a bruise, since in the latter case there is swelling. And the crack touches only the bone, so there is no edema, the soft tissues are intact;
fragments of bones enter each other, the animal is limping, soft tissues are in a normal state, there is no swelling, but the broken limb is shorter than healthy paws;
the bones are not displaced, but the painful area is reddened, slight swelling. With a closed fracture, the dog cannot stand on its paw, it hurts, the behavior is aggressive;
bones are displaced relative to each other. The animal whines, licks the damaged area. There are hematomas, soft tissues are badly damaged;
with an open fracture, the bones stick out. Often, blood vessels are also damaged, so there is bleeding. The main thing is not to be intimidated and deliver the dog to the veterinary hospital on time.
Rehabilitation of a dog with a broken paw
Literally a day after the operation, the dog will be at home. The risk of postoperative complications is minimal. When a dog has a broken paw, it needs rest, for the entire period of fusion. In this case, inactivity is fraught with obesity, so the animal has a balanced diet. The owner gives the dog pain medications, treats the stitches, pampers with vitamins and other useful additives that the veterinarian will prescribe. After all, the bone needs to heal well and quickly. After a week, the dog will already be walking, resting on its paw. Full recovery occurs in 3-5 weeks. It is important that during this period the animal is not overworked, and physical activity is under control.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine M. Shelyakov
Types of fractures
In veterinary medicine, there are several classifications of fractures: by origin, location, etc. We will present the main types of injuries characteristic of dogs and cats.
- fractures of tubular bones (front and hind legs);
- fractures of flat bones (hip bones);
- other fractures (tail, jaw, spine).
By the nature of the damage:
- open, in which not only the bone is damaged, but also the surrounding tissues, the integrity of the skin or mucous membrane is disrupted. Open fractures can be complicated by bleeding and infection in the wound;
- closed, without damaging the outer covers, which facilitates healing and maintains sterility.
In the direction of the fracture relative to the axis:
- transverse (the bone is fractured perpendicular to the axis of the limb);
- oblique (at an angle to the axis);
- longitudinal (in the direction of the axis, rare cases);
- spiral (with a violent screw-like movement of the limbs);
- comminuted (when separating bone fragments);
- crushed (with strong compression of the tubular bones along the axis).
Fractures are also typified by the degree of damage to the bone tissue (cracks, fractures, complete fractures), by the number (single and multiple), by the nature of the displacement of the fragments and by the anatomical nature. To accurately determine the type of injury and take the right measures, diagnostics are needed: a veterinarian’s examination, X-ray or CT (if you suspect damage to internal organs by bone fragments, an MRI is prescribed). In no case do you need to take independent actions. this way you can only harm your pet.
How to determine the signs of a fracture in order to immediately go to the clinic?
Causes of fractures in cats and dogs
Most often, small animals face the problem of limb fractures (as well as tails): decorative dogs, “hybrid” cats. all those breeds that appeared artificially, thanks to selection. Indeed, despite the fact that breeders are getting more and more aesthetically pleasing exteriors, health is often sacrificed to beauty, including the strength of bones. It is due to the pathological fragility of bone tissue that “purebred” dogs and cats often have fractures of the limbs and pelvis. The animal may not even receive serious injury, but, for example, simply unsuccessfully jump from a high chair. There are even cases of congenital fractures that kittens or puppies receive before they are born.
Some of the most common causes of acquired fractures are injuries: road traffic accidents. in dogs (in 70% of cases, an animal is hit by a car or motorcycle), falls from a great height. in cats (about 55% of cases), mechanical injuries (caused by people or other animals). accidental household (the latter especially concerns tail fractures). than half of the fractures in representatives of the feline family occur precisely on the limbs, then there are fractures of the pelvis and tail, then. of the spine, and least of all cats damage the bones of the skull. In dogs, the situation is somewhat different: the paws and spine are injured in 60% of cases, the pelvic bones. in 20% and with about the same frequency. the skull. Rib fractures, especially the latter, are a common injury in street dogs. There are also pathological bone injuries. due to diseases, improper feeding.
At the same time, veterinarians record various types of fractures, each of which is dangerous in its own way.
Often, the owners neglect to look after the animal, sending it on “self-walking”: this becomes, in most cases, the cause of cats falling from balconies or from windows not protected by a net, as well as dogs falling under the wheels of cars and into the hands of dog hunters. According to statistics, every second animal, released for independent walks, sooner or later does not return home, and most often injuries are the reason for this.
Symptoms: how to spot a fracture in a dog or cat
The most obvious signs of a limb fracture are the behavior of the animal itself (it tries not to step on the injured paw) and swelling at the site of the closed fracture. An open fracture is visible to the naked eye. The paw usually does not straighten to the end, upon palpation of the limb, the animal feels acute pain, if the fracture is complete, the crunch of fragments touching each other is heard.
Symptoms of a tail fracture are also noticeable from the outside. it is often bent; when trying to feel it, a cat or dog reacts painfully, tries to resist. The tail loses its motor function.
With pelvic fractures, the animal cannot climb to the hind limbs or rises, but with difficulty, has problems with bowel movement and urination, refuses food and water.
Injury to the spine can manifest as paralysis, involuntary defecation, urinary incontinence, or lack of urination. The animal does not eat, breathes heavily, cannot raise its head. The vertebral column is visibly deformed.
Broken ribs are indicated by breathing problems, an unnatural position in a cat or dog, and anxiety. When palpating, differences in the line of the ribs are noticeable.
Fracture of the jaw in dogs and cats is accompanied by epistaxis, profuse salivation, change in bite.
If such symptoms are detected, the owner (and not only he, but anyone who noticed) must immediately provide the animal with all possible first aid and deliver it to the veterinary clinic.
First aid for signs of fracture in a cat or dog
If a fracture is suspected, the animal should be provided with as much rest as possible, transferred to a bed or carrier. In case of limb fracture, you need to try to immobilize the injured paw (without trying to straighten the bone yourself!) And go to the veterinary center as soon as possible.
If there are signs of a fracture of the spine. without changing the position of the body, carefully transfer the pet to the blanket and, in the same way, trying not to disturb (this is fraught with spinal cord injuries), transfer it to the car. If the jaw is broken, put on a muzzle on the pet to avoid displacement of bone fragments.
Do not try to self-administer pain relievers or other medications to the animal: this can only provoke a deterioration in the condition of your pet. It is better to take the animal to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible: there they will conduct an emergency diagnosis and prescribe the necessary therapy.
In case of complex fractures: splinter and depressed fractures of the paws, injuries of the iliac, sciatic, pubic bones, jaw and others, the intervention of a veterinarian-surgeon is required. He performs an operation to mechanically connect bone fragments and fix them. osteosynthesis. After the bone tissue has grown together, the connective material (threads, needles, plates, pins) is removed.
Today, three main methods of osteosynthesis are practiced:
- Intramedullary osteosynthesis, also called immersion. Fragments are connected by introducing a special retainer-rod into the intramedullary canal. Outside (on the bone), the connection can be fixed with screws, cerclage sutures, etc. The main disadvantages of the method are: the danger of damage to the operated bone and the fact that the rod remains in the bone canal forever, which can lead to the destruction of the bone marrow. Nevertheless, the technique is used quite often. in more than 30% of cases.
- Extramedullary osteosynthesis (plate). The technology of extraosseous synthesis consists in applying special plates to the damaged bone and fixing them with screws. This method provides secure fixation and promotes rapid tissue healing. It is used mainly for fractures of tubular bones with comminuted, oblique and screw-like types of damage. However, with all its advantages, the method is not always applicable to use in small animals. surgical screws located too close can cause resorption (destruction) of bone tissue. After the bone is healed, the plates are removed. This method of osteosynthesis is the most common: it is used in half of all surgical interventions.
- Extrafocal osteosynthesis involves the use of the method of external fixation using pins fixed above and below the fracture site. For large animals, the Ilizarov apparatus is usually installed (see Fig. 1), for small animals, a single-plane external fixation apparatus is installed. The disadvantage of this method is the inconvenience for the animal and a long recovery period, the risk of developing a soft tissue infection. The advantage is in the low trauma for the animal and the possibility of physical exertion, which reduces the risk of developing muscle atrophy after a fracture. Extrafocal osteosynthesis is used in about 10% of cases.
The choice of method depends on the location of the fracture, its type, and, of course, on what technique the surgeon is practicing. Surgical recovery takes an average of 5 to 7 weeks.
Conservative treatment of bone fractures in cats and dogs
Nonsurgical treatment begins with pain relief, most often local anesthesia. Then, the procedure for reposition of the fragments is carried out (if necessary) and the imposition of a splint, a plaster cast, a collar to immobilize the damaged area. It is necessary to ensure that the nearby joints are fixed with a bandage, and that the splint itself does not squeeze the limb or internal organs. Now in veterinary medicine, heavy mineral gypsum is practically not used, replacing it with light polymer plates. For cracks and breaks, the splint is applied for 15–20 days, for complete fractures. for up to 40 days.
To avoid inflammation in the first phase of treatment, corticosteroids may be prescribed. Also, depending on the behavior of the animal, pain relievers and sedatives are used. Subsequent measures are reduced to the introduction of drugs to the animal that promote the growth of bone tissue and the restoration of adjacent tissues. In modern clinics, various physiotherapy techniques are used, which makes it possible to count on a faster and more successful fracture treatment. On average, young animals recover from fractures within 3-5 weeks, older ones. 4-8 weeks. 75% of four-legged patients in veterinary clinics recover thanks to conservative treatment, and only 25% need surgical treatment.
Treating fractures in pets
As we have already said, to diagnose the presence of a fracture and its type, the doctor first examines and touches the animal, then directs it for X-ray, CT or (in difficult cases) for MRI. Based on the results of the diagnosis, the veterinarian prescribes treatment. It can include various methods (depending on the severity of the injury), but most often it is a set of measures.
First aid to an animal
Having found signs of bone pathology in a four-legged friend, the owner should take care of an immediate visit to a specialized clinic. Providing first aid to a pet, it is important to act correctly and not harm.
In the case of an open injury, it is necessary first of all to stop the bleeding, which almost always accompanies such an injury. For this purpose, a tourniquet is applied above the wound site (with arterial type of bleeding). This can be done with a scarf, scarf, leash and other ammunition.
An open wound must be freed from dirt and bone fragments and treated with an antiseptic solution such as Chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, Furacilin solution, etc. A bandage should be applied to the damaged tissue to avoid infection.
After stopping bleeding and treating an open wound, the animal must be given complete rest, and the injured limb must be immobilized. In the field, you can use improvised items: a wooden board, a wide stick, a panel from a car. For a small pet, a strip of thick cardboard will be enough. The diseased limb is fixed on the device using a belt, belt, scarf, etc.
A sick animal should be transported in the back seat of a car. Miniature and dwarf breeds can be transported in a small carrier or by hand, being careful not to displace the fixed limb. The use of ointments, attempts to self-reposition bone fragments are strictly prohibited.
For information on how to properly provide first aid to a dog with a broken paw, see this
Types of fractures
In veterinary practice, the following types of bone fractures in pets are distinguished:
- Crack or incomplete linear fracture. The pathology is of the mildest form, passes for the owner with practically no symptoms and is detected only by X-ray examination. With a crack in the bones of a limb, a dog may experience lameness and a careful gait. The animal avoids active games, jumps, reluctantly descends the stairs.
- Impacted fracture. It is characterized by a blurred clinical picture, since the damaged bones fix each other. This type of injury is often observed in representatives of large breeds, as well as in puppies due to underdevelopment of the musculo-ligamentous apparatus.
- Closed fracture of the bone element without changing the anatomical position. Trauma is characterized by the fact that the damaged bone structure remains in place. Pathology is characterized by severe pain, loss of a limb from motor function.
- Closed bone fracture with displacement. Severe trauma is associated not only with a violation of the integrity of the organ, but also with the fact that the bone leaves its anatomical location as a result of a fracture. The condition is dangerous in that it can lead to damage to large vessels, injury to vital organs.
- Open fractures. The most complex injury, characterized by damage not only to the bone, but also to internal and external tissues, rupture of blood and lymphatic vessels, damage to the ligamentous apparatus, joints.
Depending on the direction of the limb fracture in dogs, veterinary surgeons distinguish longitudinal, transverse, oblique, helical, and marginal injuries. Considering the size of the bone fragments, one can distinguish between coarsely splintered and finely splintered fractures, also shattered and crushed. If the violation of integrity reaches the joint, then we are talking about a complex intra-articular pathology.
How long does it take to heal
The healing of bone injuries in dogs goes through several stages. After 10. 15 days, a connective tissue callus is formed. Fusion of bone fragments occurs by 35. 45 days.
Dogs begin to include the injured limb in the support function at the moment when the callus has occurred. Until this moment, sick animals protect the broken paw.
In order to prevent infection after osteosynthesis, a sick animal is necessarily prescribed a course of antibacterial drugs. On the recommendation of a veterinary surgeon, the animal can be prescribed immunomodulators, vitamins, minerals.
In 4. 5 weeks after the osteosynthesis, the animal is assigned a control X-ray in order to assess the effectiveness of the operation.
After anesthesia and the use of muscle relaxants to relax the muscles, the veterinarian will reposition the displaced bone fragments. To immobilize the damaged bone, special bandages are used to restrict the movement of the limb. The animal is assigned complete rest. To restrict movement, a small dog is best kept in a cage for 3 to 4 weeks.
Removal of the immobilizing bandage is carried out after 30. 40 days in young individuals and after 45. 50 days in elderly pets. In small dog breeds, the bandage is removed after 20 to 25 days. During the stay of the animal in a special tire, it is necessary to ensure that it does not squeeze soft tissues, provoking the development of stagnation.
For information on how to properly apply an immobilizing dressing for a fracture in dogs, see this
Treatment of the animal
Given the complexity of the injury, veterinarians use both conservative and surgical techniques. Conservative treatment of long bone fractures in dogs is mainly used for uncomplicated closed fractures.
In most cases, the veterinarian recommends the owner to carry out surgical treatment for fractures of the limbs in dogs (osteosynthesis) on the first day of injury. This is due to the complex nature of injuries in animals and the development of severe traumatic edema, which complicates surgical manipulation and increases the risk of postoperative complications.
Osteosynthesis involves the use of special devices to stabilize bone fragments: metal plates, wires, wires, screws, staples, pins. Recently, in veterinary surgery, not only metal tightening elements have been used, but also polymer pins.
For fractures of the femur, the surgeon most often uses the fixation of bone fragments using steel braces. Spiral, longitudinal, and oblique fractures of the tubular bones of the extremities require the use of nickel-plated nails or staples, which the surgeon drives into a specially drilled hole.
In case of fractures of the ulnar and calcaneal tubercles, the thigh bone, the fragments are connected, as a rule, with the help of metal screws or screws. This method avoids splitting the bone and reliably fixes the bone fragment. The screw is removed after 35. 40 days by means of a skin incision.
In case of complex comminuted fractures, as well as to prevent limb shortening, distraction splints are used in veterinary practice. Their use allows for osteosynthesis with elements of bone traction. This metal post method requires size and configuration by radiography. Surgical intervention is carried out both under general anesthesia and under local.
Front and rear paw fracture symptoms
Trauma in an animal associated with a violation of the integrity of the limb bones is characterized by a number of clinical manifestations:
- The dog loses the ability to normally lean on the sore paw. The dog keeps a limb in weight, tries not to step on it.
- When the dog is forced to move, severe lameness is observed. Often the animal moves on three legs.
- In the early stages, the wearer may find severe swelling in the area of the injury. The injured limb swells, increases in size, asymmetry is observed, a change in the configuration of the paw when examining the animal.
- Palpation of the area of injury causes a negative reaction in the dog, which indicates severe pain. The dog whines, squeals, can bite even the owner with the development of pain shock.
- The injured paw may be loose or have unnatural mobility. There is a shortening of the limb.
- In the case of an open fracture, bone fragments are visually detected.
If the paw is injured, the dog refuses food, is anxious or in shock due to severe pain.
For the symptoms and treatment of a broken paw in a dog (case history), see this