Fractures take at least 8 weeks to heal. Growing pets may heal faster than adults. Radiographs at 4 and 8 weeks after surgery help assess complications and completeness of healing. Bones can be repaired with metal pins or plates. Plates are better than pins at counteracting weight-bearing forces which can disrupt the repair. Plates are also better for holding together fractures involving multiple pieces or missing pieces. Bone plates can remain in your pet forever without a problem and be removed if a problem occurs. Metal implants are removed when they interfere with normal function. Plates may allow a bone to break above or below the plate, be irritating to soft tissues, or impair growth. Complications can occur with any fracture such as never healing, healing slowly, breaking again, infection, and damage to joints, muscles, or nerves. Good quality food should be fed to provide appropriate minerals such as calcium and calories to maintain weight but not cause obesity or weight loss.
Prior to fracture repair, pets are treated for shock and blood loss. Fracture repair can be delayed up to 5 days if your pet is unable to have anesthesia. A temporary bandage or splint is applied for stabilization until surgery. Antibiotics, pain medication, and fluids are administered. Nerve damage and other abnormalities are noted. Permanent nerve damage may occur when the bone is broken and result in decreased sensation or poor use of the leg after surgery. Radiographs show which bone is broken, how many pieces the bone is in, whether or not the fracture breaks into a joint, and if a growing bone is affected. With or without surgery, fractures in growing bones may stop growth resulting in a shortened bone or make a bone grow curved. Prior to surgery, radiographs help determine the appropriate way to stabilize the bone. After surgery, radiographs help to evaluate the alignment of the repair.