A fracture is any break, whether complete or not, in bone or cartilage. Animal fractures are usually caused by trauma, such as getting hit by a car, or jumping or falling from a great height.

Types Of Fractures

Fractures in animals may be categorized in the following ways:

  • Hairline fractures
  • Multiple-piece fractures
  • Compound (open) fractures

Hairline fractures are the least severe type of fracture, causing little or no bone displacement. With multiple-piece fractures, the bone shatters into a number of pieces. With compound fractures, the most severe type of fracture, the bone breaks and pierces the skin, possibly damaging muscles, blood vessels and nerves.

Indicators Of Fractures

There are a number of indicators that an animal may have fractured a bone. They include:

  • Sudden limping or lameness
  • Swelling or pain
  • Bone coming out of the skin

X-rays are used to confirm, and determine the extent of, a fracture.

Types Of Fracture Repair

For a fracture to heal, the fractured area must be immobilized. The following may be used on their own or in conjunction with other methods:

  • Bandaging
  • Splints
  • Casts

When a bandage, splint or cast is not sufficient to repair an animal’s fracture, it can be fixed either externally or internally.

External fixation uses pins that are put into the bone from outside the animal’s body. The pins are placed above and below the fracture, and then connected using bars, rods or cement, firmly holding the fractured bone together.

Internal fixation involves an incision, and uses pins, wire, plates and screws to hold the fractured bone together.

Recovery From Fracture Repair

Recovery time from fracture repair depends on the age of the animal, and the severity of the fracture. Avoiding strenuous activity is essential. In general, younger animals need 2 to 4 weeks to recover, and older ones between 6 and 12 weeks. X-rays may be taken during the recovery period to monitor how the fracture is healing.