Pets can break bones just like people can; however, because of concerns for infection and mobility, it is critical that this medical issue is addressed right away. Fractures are most commonly the result of being hit by a car, falling/jumping, fighting, or exuberant play. This problem occurs more commonly in younger pets because they are more likely to run out in the street, play with gusto, and have bones that are more fragile. Broken bones are more common in cats that live outdoors.
How can you identify a fracture in your pet? If the broken bone is in a leg, limping is the most common symptom; this is often accompanied by swelling. Reluctance to move or hiding, also occur frequently. These same symptoms can occur with other health issues, and your veterinarian is the best person to determine the nature of the illness.
Radiographs are often required to not only identify a break; but to also classify the severity of the fracture, and to determine the best method of repair. Depending on the severity of the break, and the location; a surgical repair such as a plate, pin, or other fixation method may be recommended. An orthopedic surgeon may be needed. Sometimes a splint can be used for more simple leg injuries. Minimal activity/cage confinement is often recommended for several weeks, and sedation may be needed. Follow-up radiographs are often taken in a month. Surgical hardware may or may not be left in place.
Infection is also a significant concern. Any time there is trauma to the skin and bone, bacteria can penetrate the tissues. An abscess, or a walled off pocket of infection can form. Tissue can die. Infection in the bone can also occur. If infection can not be controlled, and migrates into bone; that tissue may need to be surgically removed, and sometimes limbs are amputated. This is another reason that it is critical to seek out medical care right away with any trauma. The area needs to be cleaned, and your pet can be placed on antibiotics as well as pain control if needed. Early diagnosis and treatment lead to a much better prognosis, and more comfort for your buddy. Your cherished companion will thank you.