While minor fractures in pets do not necessarily warrant emergency care, every broken bone or sprain should be examined by a vet. He/she carries out an X-ray to ascertain the extent of damage and type of fracture and then prescribes the right treatment and pain management medication. This article highlights all you need to know about pet fractures and how they should be handled.
1. Type of animal fractures
Your pet may suffer one of three fracture types:
Closed – the bone breaks without puncturing the skin, and hence there's no risk of external contamination/infection
Open/compound – the bone breaks and punctures the skin, creating a site that's susceptible to contamination/infection. Prompt/emergency care is imperative in this instance
These types can be further divided according to severity and other factors. You should be particularly careful about fractures in young pets. Epiphyseal fractures happen on growth plates (soft, spongy ends of bones which facilitate bone growth as the pet grows), and they can cause deformity if they are not treated correctly and hence heal improperly.
2. Symptoms of animal fracture
You may notice limping as your pet favouring other limbs to avoiding hurting an injured limb. Limb fractures are easiest to notice because of this, but others may not be as easy to spot. If you notice your pet contorted in an abnormal position, if they've had trauma, e.g., a fall or they're whimpering in pain, carry them carefully to a veterinarian for proper assessment.
3. How to carry a pet with a fracture
As your pet is injured, he/she may not be as docile as they usually are, even with people they know. Therefore, keep children away from the pet, and carefully place a muzzle on him/her to prevent biting as you handle them. If they're bleeding, a clean cloth or bandage should be loosely wrapped around the site to prevent contamination.
Where possible, gently carry the pet onto a stretcher or flat board and apply padding to protect the site of injury. This makes transportation easier, especially if driving through rough terrain that could cause further discomfort or damage.
4. How fractures are addressed
A minor fracture will be repaired using a splint, while more serious fractures may be required to re-join the bones. Comminuted fractures (bone shatters into multiple pieces) need to be repaired using special wires, plates, and pins, and this is done by a vet with orthopaedic surgery knowledge. The vet will then prescribe handling procedures to keep the pet from causing damage during healing, as well as medication for pain management.