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Bone Fractures in Dogs and Cats

A hit by car or falls from a higher place are the two most common causes of bone fractures in dogs and cats. Fractures in cats and dogs can range from simple thin fractures with little bone displacement to complex fractures in which the bone breaks into multiple pieces. Fractures are more severe if they involve a joint that can interfere with movement and cause arthritis, or if the jagged edges of the bone puncture the overlying tissue. “Open” fractures with bone clearance often cause serious infections that are difficult to repair.

The bones consist of a hard outer part called a cortex, and a spongy inner part called a medulla. The outer surface of the cortex is enclosed by a fibrous capsule known as “Periosteum”, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The Periosteum also contains immature cells that become Osteoblasts, which are cells involved in bone growth and fracture repair. Your vet will perform a physical exam to assess the fracture. X-rays are needed to fully assess the fracture and to consider the best way to stabilize and repair it.

The two broken edges of the bone should be tightly aligned and stable for the rest to heal properly. Depending on the type of fracture, your veterinarian may recommend two kinds of stabilization: 

External Stabilization

Consists of conventional splints, patches, and padded bandages that can be used to immobilize small or simple bone fractures.

Internal Stabilization

Involves surgical procedures to connect the fracture and fix the pieces with plates, pins, screws and/or wires. Because this type of surgery requires special skills, your veterinarian can refer you to an orthopaedist.It is important to limit the activity of your pet during the healing process so that the bones heal properly and stay aligned. The cure may take weeks or months, depending on the severity of the fracture, the nature of the repair, and the age and general health of your pet.

Bone Fracture Repairs

Bone Plating

Bone plates are one of the strongest and most effective methods of fixing a fracture. They counteract bending, compression, twisting and pulling forces. A bone plate s a custom-molded piece of steel with holes for screws or bone pins which stabilize the plate to the bone.

External Fixation

External skeletal fixation is an effective method of fracture repair that is minimally invasive.
ESF is a device which secures the fracture fragments with pins fixed outside the body to a rigid frame.

Hybrid Fixation

Hybrid fixation is involves an ESF that uses a combination of both linear and circular fixations outside the body to stabilize the fracture.

Interlocking Nail

This is a procedure in which a large “pin” is modified to accept locking screws through the bone and nail both above and below the fracture. This provides very secure fixation with minimal tissue invasion.

Oral Acrylic Splints

Most often used in repairing a broken mandible (jawbone), Oral Acylic splints utilize a combination of wire and acrylic composite to provide stability to the fracture site without invading the bone and soft tissue.

Questions & Answers

What Are The Causes Of Bone Fractures?

Fractures usually occur when animals are hit by a car or fall from a great height.

How Can Fractures Be Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will examine the bones for signs of fracture, and X-rays are needed to further examine the fracture and to consider the best route to repair.

How Are The Fractures Repaired?

The repair involves external or internal stabilization to hold the bones together when they heal. External stabilization uses traditional splints and castings, while internal stabilization uses metal plates, pins, screws and/or wires.

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Advanced Veterinary Surgery & Rehabilitation


71 Colt Square Fayetteville, AR 72703

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