Details about dog, cat fractures after Piper fall

Q: “Piper is my friend’s poodle puppy. She jumped out of the bathtub yesterday and broke her leg. She was sent to see a veterinary surgeon — I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Anyway, Piper is having surgery today, and I was hoping you could tell us more about fractures and surgery for dogs and cats. (R.E., Farragut)

A: Poor Piper! I’m sorry to hear that.

Yes, veterinarians can specialize and become boarded surgeons. And thank goodness we have some really good ones in Knoxville, since accidents can and do happen.

Fractures that need surgical repair could include metal wires, pins, plates and/or external fixators to stabilize the fracture.

Post-operative care and therapy are important to produce the best outcome for the patient. Most of the time, the metal will stay with the pet, but there are instances where it might have to be removed later in life.

Surgical considerations include the specific bone that is fractured and where the fracture is within the bone. The type of fracture is also important: for example, simple fractures are repaired differently compared to ones with multiple bone fragments. Certainly, fractures in which the bone is protruding through the skin (“open fractures”) are most complicated and have higher rates of infection compared to closed fractures.

For Piper, you mentioned she was a puppy. Fractures in and near the growth plate can create problems as the pet grows, as the fracture could disturb the growth plate and stop that bone from growing.

Not all fractures require surgery, such as a broken rib or a toe. There are also those simple fractures lower on the limb that may be able to be splintered successfully.

Best of luck to Piper.

If you have any questions about you pet, e-mail Dr. Myers at