pet orthopedic injuries - Arkansas Veterinary Surgery Center

What to do for pets with orthopedic injuries

Tony Johnson, ER Vet

pet orthopedic injuries - Arkansas Veterinary Surgery CenterAt a visit to the park with my family today, I saw a little girl with a pink cast on her arm, signed by all of her classmates. This made me think of the many orthopedic injuries we see in pets in the veterinary ER. Just like humans, pets can suffer from broken bones, torn ligaments, and dislocated joints. And just like people, many of these injuries will require surgery to repair them.

Emergency Steps to Take First

If you suspect your pet has a broken bone, get him to the vet so he can be stabilized and treated for pain. The 1st priority, however, is to take measures to protect yourself, as an injured pet may try to bite.

  • Fashion a muzzle out of pantyhose or cloth and tie snugly around the muzzle so he can still breathe through his nose.
  • Use an Elizabethan collar (also called an E-collar) to keep him from being able to bite.
  • Place cats in a pillowcase for emergency transfer if a carrier or sturdy box is not available.
  • Do not try to soothe the pet by petting on the head or get your face too close to theirs.
  • Once at the veterinary hospital or ER, prepare for pain medication, sedation, and X-rays. To tell you what it takes to fix it, the vet has to be able to know the extent of the injuries. And if you’re going to the ER,  prepare to wait. A pet with more severe injuries may require the doctor’s attention until it’s time for your pet to be seen.

Most Common Injuries & Related Costs

Broken Bone

Also known as a fracture, broken bones can be either a nuisance or a big-ticket medical headache. The method of repair and the cost all depend on:


  • Which bone is broken. A bone in your pet’s foot may only require a splint for a few weeks, while the only reliable way to fix a broken thighbone is surgery.
  • How it happened. A bone that was injured in a high-speed car accident is likely to be more severely fractured than one that happened in a minor accident. Other injuries like skin wounds and internal injuries tend to be more serious as well, which increases cost and hospitalization time.
  • If it’s open or closed. An open fracture, formerly known as a ”compound” fracture, is one that has a break in the skin over the broken bone. They are more serious, more prone to infection, and have a higher complication rate.

Read more about orthopedic injuries in pets at


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