Dogs can break their legs for any number of reasons such as traffic accidents, falls, or collisions. When a fracture occurs, you need to be ready to act quickly and decisively. Below is some information on what steps you should take if your pet breaks its leg.

Two Types of Bone Fractures

Veterinarians typically classify bone fractures as either open or closed. What is the difference?

1. Open Fracture

An open fracture occurs when the skin over the fracture is open and the bone is exposed. In this scenario, both the bone and the skin have sustained damage and are in danger of infection.

2. Closed Fracture 

In a closed fracture, the broken bone has not penetrated the skin. In most cases, the bone only suffered a hairline fracture.


Why is it important to know the difference? Because a dog with a hairline fracture may not exhibit the typical symptoms associated with open or closed fractures. If they demonstrate that they are in pain, however, you should bring them to Normandale Veterinary Hospital for a diagnosis and treatment.


A broken bone sticking out through the dog's skin is an obvious indicator of a fracture, but any sign of pain or discomfort after an accident or injury could indicate a fracture or dislocation. Limping and whining are two other strong signs that something is wrong.

Immediate Care for a Broken Bone

Keep in mind that a broken bone should signify that your dog is in need of immediate professional treatment in a medical facility. Therefore, you should only provide enough care for the dog so that you can deliver it safely to the vet. Your dog is likely to be sensitive or even volatile due to the pain and fear it experiences. Therefore, you should muzzle the dog if necessary, so that you can treat it gently.


With that in mind, follow these guidelines depending on your pet’s situation:

Broken Back

Pull the dog onto a flat board without bending its back. You will need to strap it in place to limit movement but should avoid putting any pressure on the neck or back.

Broken Limb

Gently slide a clean towel under the broken limb. If the broken part of the bone is visible through an opening, cover the exposed part with a clean bandage or towel. If the break is closed, the gauze, then use a rolled-up newspaper, magazine, or sturdy material to splint the leg. If splinting causes the dog severe pain, don’t force it. The splint will prevent damage to nerves, vessels, and other tissues until a veterinarian can treat the break with the aid of general anesthesia. 

Broken Ribs

Check the chest for open wounds and cover them with clean gauze, then wrap the whole chest area with clean, torn sheets. The sheets should be wrapped firmly, but not so tight that they interfere with breathing. 


If you notice that the chest is bulging, wrap it tight enough to cover the bulge. If the bulge is firm, it’s probably the end of a broken rib. If it is soft, it could mean the lung is punctured. If the dog emits a sucking sound, the chest cavity has been breached, which requires immediate veterinary assistance.

Broken Tail

If the tail appears to be broken, but there is no blood or bone visible and the dog does not seem to be in pain, immediate emergency care is not essential—that is, as long as the end of the tail does not become discolored. Make an appointment to see the vet within 24 hours and keep an eye on the problem.

Veterinary Care in Minneapolis, MN

If you need immediate care for your pet’s injury, then contact Normandale Veterinary Clinic. We offer general care, vaccines, grooming, and surgical care for dogs, cats, and other pets in Minneapolis, MN.


If you need emergency care or would like to schedule an appointment for medical treatment, call us at 952-831-8272.