Dogs and cats suffer all types of fractures (broken bones) from a variety of causes. Many fractures result from interactions with motor vehicles, which invariably goes poorly for the pet. Other causes for dogs include “going BIG” for the ball catch and landing in an awkward position, resulting in a leg bone fracture. For cats, who are frequently into mischief, common causes for fractures include falling off a stack of boxes in the garage, or getting a leg caught in the 6 ft fence they are climbing. Some fractures can heal without surgery, but most fractures of longer bones require surgical intervention. Surgical treatment for fractures can include techniques such as: the use of plates and screws; pins and wires; or external skeletal fixation systems. The type and location of the fracture typically dictates the repair technique that is used.
Postoperative Home Care:
Dogs and cats cannot use crutches or wheelchairs to protect the surgical repair; thus, in almost all surgery cases the technique used to repair the fracture will allow for immediate, BUT CONTROLLED, weight bearing and limb usage. Fracture healing occurs in a progressive manner over 8 to 12 weeks in most cases. Excessive activity during this healing time will delay or prevent fracture healing and can result in a serious complication. Your pet will not protect their injured leg during the healing process; therefore, it is up to you, the pet owner, to make sure your pet is appropriately confined during the healing process and that you are following the home care and rehab guidelines provided by the surgeon.
This is an example of a comminuted (many pieces) tibia fracture in a dog that was hit by a car. In this case, the owner waited 10 days before deciding to have surgery, making fracture reduction more difficult. The fracture was repaired using an intramedullary pin, cerclage wire, and a locking plate.
This is an example of a high energy femur fracture in a cat (unknown trauma). The fracture was repaired with an intramedullary pin, cerclage wire, and a locking plate.
This is an example of a distal (near the end of the bone) radius and ulna fracture in a dog that landed badly when jumping to catch a ball. The fracture was repaired with two locking plates, one on each bone.
Tibia Facture – Biologic Healing
This is another example of a comminuted tibia fracture in a dog. This patient fell off a cliff and shattered his tibia. The fracture was repaired in a “biological manner” using a circular external fixator. In this situation, the fracture is realigned using x-rays, and wires are placed without making an incision or creating a surgical wound.