How to Splint a Dog's Broken Leg

by Quentin Coleman
Ankle fractures are very painful and make it difficult for your dog to walk.

Ankle fractures are very painful and make it difficult for your dog to walk.

ANKLE FRACTURE image by Dr Cano from Fotolia.com

Dogs love to jump, run and play, which means accidents are bound to happen. Even a short fall, like slipping while getting out of a car, can result in a broken or fractured bone if the dog lands on his legs or back. If your dog suffers a serious injury like a broken bone, contact a veterinary specialist and request guidance. If you are unable to take your dog to a veterinary specialist immediately, you can splint his leg to prevent him for aggravating the injury. Splinting an injured leg prevents the dog from hurting himself any further by moving his damaged bones.

Step 1

Examine your dog's wound before attempting to clean it or create a splint. Check if the wound is still actively bleeding or if the blood is mostly dry. If the wound continues to bleed profusely, you need to get your dog to a veterinary specialist as soon as possible. Put on a pair of plastic gloves and gently push aside any hair obscuring the wound. Note the size and depth of the injury. Some broken or fractured bones don't produce any external wound at all, so the lack of blood does not necessarily mean your dog's leg isn't damaged.

Step 2

Hold the dog still, or have a helper hold him still if someone is available to help, and gently rinse the wound with water or a light saline solution. Hold the hair around the wound aside if it is in the way. Don't move suddenly or touch the dog's injury directly, as this may frighten your dog and make him aggressive. Flush the wound with a low concentration or non-astringent antiseptic. Absorb excess liquid remaining on the wound by dabbing it gently with a clean cloth or gauze.

Step 3

Bandage your dog's leg by wrapping the cloth strip around it multiple times. Pull it so it lays snug against the dog's leg without applying pressure to the wound. Layer the bandage by wrapping it around the injured area several times. Wind it around the skin above and below the injury as well. Seal the loose end of the bandage with medical tape to keep it in place.

Step 4

Fit the splint slowly around your dog's entire leg. For ankle injuries, the splint material should cover the paw, ankle and knee. If the fracture is farther up his leg, then the splint should contain the entire leg up to the joint with the dog's abdomen. Wrap the splint material around the leg firmly, but not tight enough to apply pressure to the wound. Tape the splint together at the top and the base. Tug gently on the splint to make sure the tape holds.

Step 5

Take your dog to a veterinarian or an animal hospital as soon as you can. A trained specialist with access to advanced equipment, including X-ray machines, can diagnose the problem and develop a solution to fix it. In many cases, your dog will need to continue to wear a splint for several days or weeks until the bone heals. The bandage will need to be replaced regularly so the wound can be cleaned, so you will need to remove and attach the splint at least once a day during the first week or two.

Items You Will Need

  • Clean bandage
  • Rigid splint material or prefabricated splint
  • Medical tape
  • Saline solution or clean water
  • Mild antiseptic solution
  • Gauze
  • Gloves

Tip

  • You can craft homemade splints from any rigid material of the appropriate size, including cardboard and some types of paper.

Warnings

  • Whether you splint your dog's leg or not, you should take him to an animal hospital or clinic as soon as possible.
  • Do not attempt to splint your dog's leg if the bones are completely broken and are misaligned. Manipulating bones with clean breaks may cause internal bleeding and make the injury worse.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.