A bone fracture is a partial or complete break in a rib bone. Fractures are defined depending on their nature (comminuted, transverse, angled, spiral etc) as well as whether the fracture is open (parts of bone or fragments pierced through the overlying skin) or closed (overlying skin intact).
The trauma suddenly develops with the dog, like also with humans, due to the required external forces. In many cases dogs which just have been running or capered around, stop their run abruptly and show strong pains which are mainly characterized by being lame and shaking extremities. The affected extremity may possibly hang down flabbily. The function is always lost what may also be characterized by a total inability to move. In addition to the lameness, the affected region swells and is algesic. In some rare cases, grinding noises or deformations being visible with the eye may result. In case of a fracture, also adjacent tissue, tendons, ligaments, muscles, vessels, nerves, etc. may be damaged and harmed. Hematoma, bleeding, breakdowns, shock conditions or loss of consciousness may occur. Open fractures are always to be assessed as more serious since the protecting tissue is harmed and infections may develop.
As with the distortion (sprain), the bone fracture is caused by an external force impacting on the bones, which may be the result of an accident, results of impacts, bites, torsions, abnormal bending, etc. In case the energy of the impacting force is larger than the elasticity of the bones, these break. Bones of older animals are less elastic than those of young animals, and consequently rather break.
For diagnosis, X-ray photographs are consulted by means of which the type of fracture and the required therapeutic steps can be identified. Bones grow again, the places of fracture close. Objective of each therapy is to reconstruct the original shape of the bones and the function of the extremities. Therefore, however, the affected extremity needs to be immobilized completely, well supplied with blood and be stable in itself. Depending on the severity of the fracture, operative or conservative measures can be applied. Conservative methods use diverse bandages (e.g. casts or Robert Jones bandage) and splints which facilitate an immobilization of the bones and the surrounding soft parts until healing. Orthopedic operations primarily serve the objective of making the bones in themselves stable so that the affected extremity can already be re-used during the healing process. For that purpose, depending on the requirements, different implants such as belts, pins, screws or plates as well as methods of external anchorage are used. In case of good development, the bone fracture needs six to eight weeks until healing. Additionally, drugs are always applied which may have pain-relieving but also anti-inflammatory effects.
In case of a bone fracture, you should as soon as possible consult a veterinarian since already "harmless" fractures are associated with huge pain for the animal. Always pay attention to a balanced alimentation of your dog. It should be refrained from a mere meat feeding since the bones may possibly become porose. In case your dog shows symptoms of a bone fracture of the extremities, you should proceed as indicated in the note of the following advice category.