Fractured Limbs

Fractured limbs occur when the long bones in dogs and cats are susceptible to fractures resulting from various causes such as vehicular accidents, altercations with other animals, and certain athletic activities

Fractured Limbs

What are considered limbs?

Front feet: toes: consists three bones in each toe
hand: consists four main bones
Forearm: radius and ulna
Upper arm: humerus and shoulder blade
Back feet: toes: same as front feet
foot: consists of four main bones
hock or ankle
Lower leg: shin bone and fibula
Thigh: femur
Pelvis: ilium, hip socket, ischium
Joints: wrist: consists of small carpal bones and radius
elbow: consists of radius, ulna and humerus
shoulder: consists of humerus and scapula
ankle: consists of small tarsal bones and tibia
knee: consists of tibia and femur
hip: consists of femur and pelvis 

Signs and symptoms to watch for

  • Limping 
  • Swelling or bruising around the affected area
  • Visible deformity or abnormal positioning of the limb
  • Vocalization or signs of pain when touched or when moving
  • Reluctance to bear weight on the limb
  • Loss of appetite or changes in behavior
  • In severe cases, an open wound or bone protruding through the skin


Veterinarians employ various diagnostic measures. Initially, a comprehensive physical examination is conducted, assessing for signs such as swelling, pain, and abnormal limb positioning. Following this, X-rays (radiography) are typically employed to visualize the affected limb’s bones, providing crucial insight into the location, type, and severity of the fracture. In more complex cases or when deeper assessment is required, computed tomography (CT) scans may offer more detailed images, especially beneficial for intricate fractures or those involving surrounding soft tissues. Additionally, ultrasound imaging might be utilized to evaluate soft tissue injuries. Blood tests may also be conducted to assess overall health and identify potential underlying conditions influencing healing. Through these diagnostic procedures, veterinarians can accurately diagnose the fracture’s nature and determine the most appropriate treatment plan for optimal recovery.

Treatment Options

Treatment options included both surgical and non-surgical approaches. Surgical intervention may involve realignment and stabilization of the fractured bones using pins, plates, or external fixation devices. Non-surgical management typically includes immobilization with splints, casts, or bandages, coupled with strict rest and pain management. The choice between these options depends on factors like the fracture’s type, location, and severity, as well as the pet’s overall health and lifestyle.