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Even if you take every possible step to ensure your pet's safety, broken bones cannot always be prevented. Pets may be hit by cars, get into fights, or suffer falls that fracture one or more bones. Animal fractures should be regarded as an emergency situation calling for immediate veterinary care.
The treatment method selected for animal fractures depends on the severity and angle of the break or breaks. Non-weight bearing bones that are cracked, for instance, may heal on their own with minimal veterinary treatment. Even a fracture of a larger bone might not require surgical intervention. A clean break or hairline fracture may need nothing more than a plaster cast or other external immobilizing device, coupled with rest and proper nutrition, to facilitate complete healing. Many other weight-bearing broken bones, however, present complications involving the angle of the break, misaligned bone ends, or multiple pieces of bone at the injury site (a comminuted fracture). These cases generally require some type of fixation surgery and referral to a Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon will be recommended for those cases.
While human fracture patients typically avoid putting any weight or pressure on the injury site until the fracture has healed, animals can often make use of the fractured part during the healing process. Generally, however, we advise owners not to let pets subject their healing fracture to greater stresses than the fixation equipment and/or external cast can tolerate. If an open incision or wound is present, owners should also take steps to prevent their pet from licking at the area, since this can cause bacterial infection. Symptoms of infection include redness, swelling or oozing at the incision or wound site. Owners who note these symptoms should bring their pets back to our clinic for additional treatment.
Springfield Veterinary Center can evaluate and treat broken bones during our clinic hours; animal fractures that occur outside of these hours are referred to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Southwest Missouri.