6 (Real Ways) On How to Care for a Puppy with a Broken Leg

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Few things are as stress-inducing as a new pet dog owner as watching your puppy suffer from a broken bone.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all uncommon for young dogs (even puppies that are just a few months old) to suffer from broken bones, fractures, and serious emergencies that need veterinary care ASAP.

Our furry little family members like to get themselves into sticky situations all the time. Accidents happen, limbs get twisted and broken, and all of a sudden our dog is limping and favoring one side or another.

In these moments, it’s critically important that you get your dog the right care as quickly as possible.

You need to find a veterinarian that can correctly set a puppies bones that have been fractured bone or broken, but you also need to follow their instructions for home care to the letter as well.

The last thing you want is for the set or surgery to go well and the follow-on care to go poorly, forcing your small dog to live the rest of their lives with a limp and significant pain.

Luckily, with the help of this quick guide – and the express instructions provided to you from your veterinarian – you won’t have to worry about that!

Let’s begin, shall we?

It All Starts with Pet Triage Care Following the Injury

Team of veterinarian take care of dog

Right out of the gate, the moment that you notice your dog is limping or your pet behaving as though they have been injured dog, it’s important to triage the situation until you can get to your veterinarian.

The last thing you want to do is panic, get all excited, and cause them to stress and worry. Your dog is already in plenty of pain in the last thing you want to do is exacerbate the situation by sending out energy and body language that’s only going to make things worse.

No, instead you need to simply triage the situation quickly and effectively. That’s generally going to involve:

Diagnose the Injury – Assessing the situation, inspecting the injured area, and determining that you are dealing with broken bones in the first place. It’s not uncommon for dogs to limp when they are young just because they wore out their muscles, have a cramp, or have a significant bump or bruise.

Performing Pet First Aid – Pay attention to how your dog is breathing, whether or not they are alert, and what their pulse situation is like. The overwhelming majority of leg break situations are not going to be life-threatening, but you want to be sure that this injury isn’t compounded with other problems, too.

Physically Examine the Leg – This is where you’re going to want to gently touch and hold the leg or the knee of your pet, feeling for obvious signs of injury and trauma (like swelling, for example). Be very careful here and do not try to over manipulate the bone or the joints of your dog. You’re just trying to get a feel for things (no pun intended).

Bandage Injuries – After you have gotten a better feel for what’s happening and the injury that your dog is dealing with, it’s time to bandage the injuries (whenever possible) – especially if there is blood. Go lightly, be careful, and don’t apply a lot of extra pressure with bandages, particularly to broken bone and broken leg situations.

A splint or Sling Your Dog – The last bit of triage you’re going to want to do as a pet owner before you bring your dog to the vet is to either splint or sling your furry little addition to the family. Both of these approaches immobilize broken bone situations a bit, help to prevent a bad situation from getting worse, and eliminate a lot of the pain and stress your dogs would have been dealing with walking around on a busted limb.

Now it’s time to get to the veterinarian ASAP!

If you aren’t going to be able to physically sit in the back of the vehicle with your dogs suffering from a broken bone (mostly so that you can calm them down, comfort them, and restrain them from moving around) it’s not a bad idea to slide them into a dog carrier with some towels or a bed to lay on.

The important thing here is to immobilize the animal as much as possible before you get to the vet. You really want to minimize the potential for an already bad break to get worse.


Follow Instructions From the Veterinary Surgeon to the Letter

Vet bandaging paw of a dog.

Depending on the specific injury or a simple fracture that your dog is dealing with there are a variety of different ways that a vet can set the problem and begin the healing process.

You’re going to want to defer to their medical experience (obviously) but sitting in the lobby or the waiting room while your pet is being worked on is never fun and never easy.

Still, provided you have chosen the right vet location (picked a vet you know you can trust, a vet that came highly recommended) you don’t have much to worry about.

Your furry little family member will come out from this experience in a splint or cast in much better condition, and you’ll be able to get them down the road to recovery much faster by listening to the follow-on care instructions provided by your vet, too.

Now, every vet is going to have different ideas about how dogs recover faster from broken bones. But the overwhelming majority of them are going to recommend similar core principles that we highlight below.

1. Plenty of Rest

Every veterinarian is going to recommend that your dog get plenty of rest when they are dealing with broken bones or a broken knee/leg.

The odds are pretty good that your dog is going to come out of the different treatment options on at least a little bit of pain medication, which makes helping your dog rest that first day pretty easy.

After that, though, you’ll want to make sure that your dog isn’t leading the rambunctious, action-packed life young dogs like to live – the kind of rambunctious, action-packed life that potentially caused this break or fracture in the first place.

Use pain meds as directed to help them get the rest they need right away, but also invest in high-quality bedding that they can find their way into easily to rest more comfortably, too

2. Keep the Injured Leg Dry

Secondly, you’re going to make sure that you are keeping the leg or fracture as dry as possible – especially when the limb has been put in a cast or a sling.

Keeping the injured limb dry is going to help speed up their healing . Make sure that the medical dressings are dry, any blood or puss is cleaned away as quickly as possible, and that any splints are swapped out as necessary, too.

3. Prevent Your Pup from Licking the Wound

Every dog has a mouth filled with bacteria, and that’s the last thing you want swimming around busted bones, fractures, or a compromised limb recovering from surgery.

Chances are good that your vet is going to provide you with cones for dogs that slip over their head for the specific purpose of keeping your dog from licking the location of the injury.

You might want to invest in a higher quality cone than the one you get straight from the animal clinic, but you want to keep them from licking the area of the closed fracture is much as possible to prevent infection.

4. Restrict Movement for a Month

Keeping your dogs activity level low for the first month is another big piece of the puzzle to helping them heal as quickly as possible.

Doing this with furry little family members loaded with energy is never easy, but it’s the only way to prevent an accident that can cause more fractures, more bone plate damage, or more bone fragments to pop up – restarting the healing journey all over again.

No, it’s a good idea to try and keep canine fractures immobilized for at least 30 days (at least as much as you can).

Five-minute walks throughout the day and bathroom breaks help to keep the muscles working and the bones to heal faster without having to worry about making the severity of the injury even worse.

5. Be Smart and Stick to a Schedule with Pain Meds

Any bone that breaks and any fracture is going to cause a lot of pain, not just in the instant that the accident or injury happened but during the healing process as well.

Following fracture surgery (no matter the type of treatment method prescribed) pain medication is going to be a big asset in helping your animal recover faster.

With these medications and fracture repair options, though, you need to be sure that you are only ever giving the recommended dosage and not even just a little bit more.

In fact, it’s not a bad idea to dial back the dosage (at least at first) to see with the individual user experience for your older dog will be.

Be smart about using these medications and stick to a consistent schedule and you won’t have much to worry about.

6. Schedule a Six Week Follow Up for Your Dog

Following any bone break or fracture (or fractures, for that matter) it’s a good idea to schedule a six-week follow-up for your animal – especially if you have the pet insurance to cover this kind of checkup, too.

Your vet will be able to better track the progress of your dog following the surgeries they’ve gone through. They will usually recommend x-rays just to check and see what’s happening “under the hood”, confirming that the severity of the situation has reduced significantly.

This is also usually when vets will start to recommend anti-inflammatories if necessary, different types of physical therapy, or any future surgery that may be necessary to readjust a wound or fragile bone fracture that isn’t healing the way it should be.

All in all, this is an important part to make sure that the bone healing is unfolding the way that it should be and that your dog is going to be able to lead a happy, healthy, active lifestyle moving forward for sure.


FAQ

How Long Does It Take for a Young Puppy‘s Broken Leg to Heal??

All animals heal differently (just like all bones that break heal differently – the humerus, the radius, and the femur all healing on different schedules), but the majority of canine fractures are going to heal and anywhere between four weeks and eight weeks or so.

Can a Pup Walk on a Broken Dog‘s Leg?

Usually, young dogs are going to be able to walk around on a broken bone or a fracture if they absolutely must, but it’s not the best idea. You want to immobilize this wound as quickly as possible and get them to a vet as soon as you can.

Can a Puppy‘s Broken Leg Heal on Its Own?

Sure, it’s possible for different types of bone fracture to heal all on their own – but you are taking a risk with this approach.

Pets throughout time (way before pet insurance ever existed) have had broken bone issues and fracture problems that heal on their own. But those same animals that heal without orthopedic surgery inevitably walk with a limp and suffer a lot more pain than necessary.

How Do You Tell If a Dog Has a Broken Leg?

Limping, swelling, your animal being unable to put any weight down on a specific broken limb, heavy breathing, a lack of exercise, no real interest in play time, or legs that just don’t seem to want to “behave” are all signs of a broken leg in our pets you’ll want to be on the lookout for.