Fractures in Dogs and Cats 

Having a pet Fracture a bone is a traumatic experience for both you and your pet, and there are a few things you should know to help both of you to make the best of a bad situation!

First, it’s quite likely that your veterinarian will recommend surgical stabilisation of the fracture. Indeed, dogs and cats with fractures are treated surgically more often than are humans. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. Compared to humans, animals more commonly fracture the major bones closest to the body (the femur in the hind limb and the humerus in the front limb). Fractures in these bones are often due to major traumas in our pets, such as car accidents. Fractures of the femur and humerus do not tend to
    stabilise with splints or casts.
  2. Placing and maintaining casts or splints are major challenges in dogs and cats. Keeping casts clean and dry, and avoiding pressure sores under the bandage material, can be nearly impossible in active pets. In addition, in very small animals, the weight of a cast or splint may make it difficult and sometimes impossible for the animal to move around.


If surgery is recommended, it will involve the application of various metal surgical implants such as pins, wires, plates, or screws. The primary goal of fracture fixation surgeries is to restore broken bones to their original anatomic position and rigidly fix them in place while healing occurs. In some cases, the fracture may be too severe to permit perfect anatomic restoration of all pieces, but there will still usually be a way of providing stability to the
fractured bone and to allow use of the limb during the healing period.

Post-Operative Care

After surgery, it will be your job as the owner to follow the post-operative care instructions very closely. While most animals will be encouraged to use the surgically-repaired limb, this activity must be under strict control. Surgical implants are strong but neither the implants nor the healing bone can withstand high energy or high impact movements.

Keeping the animal from licking at the surgical incision is imperative, at least until the sutures are removed. Persistent licking at a surgical wound will delay healing and is the major cause of incision infections and delayed recovery.

Pain Control

How do you know if your pet is painful after surgery? Obviously, some discomfort is to be expected after the trauma of the injury and subsequent surgery. Your veterinarian will provide some pain relief, especially during the in-hospital period. After your pet comes home, you should watch for signs of pain by observing whether your pet is able to settle down, rest, and sleep. Animals in chronic pain have difficulty getting comfortable and will be reluctant to sleep for normal periods. You should also watch the limb for signs of swelling, redness, or discharge at the surgery site. The pet’s appetite and changes in the use of the limb are also critical signs to monitor. A patient who has been bearing some weight on the leg and suddenly stops doing so, or has a sudden decrease in appetite, should be reported to your veterinarian.