Look For These Fracture Signs
After An Accident Or Fall

If you think your dog has fallen from a height, or been in an accident, check for these fracture signs.

Some of these signs also indicate other possible, less serious problems. If you see any of these signs and suspect a fracture, call your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic staff for advice.

Simple and Compound Fractures

There are different types of fractures. Some are more serious that others.

  • Compound fractures are breaks that have torn through the flesh and punctured the skin. These are much more serious fractures, particularly due to the risk of infection and blood loss.

  • Simple fractures are breaks where the bone hasn't poked through the skin. There is little risk of infection with a simple fracture.

  • Multiple fractures can be either compound or simple. If the bone has broken in more than one place, it is considered a multiple fracture.

The Limbs and Paws

  • Is your dog limping? Try to determine which leg is affected so you can inform the vet.
  • Is she walking on three legs, holding the fourth one off the ground as she moves along? This makes it obvious which one hurts.
  • Does the leg appear to be set at an abnormal angle?
  • Is the leg swollen along one of the bones, or very painful to the touch? (Be careful when testing for pain, as she might snap at you.)

If the leg seems to be okay, check the paw. If she won't let you touch it, take her to the vet.

If she'll let you touch her paw, see if there are any cuts, scrapes or other wounds, or any bites. If you see none, and there are no stones or thorns stuck in her pads or toes, or between the toes, assume the worst and take her to the clinic.

The Rib Cage

Fracture signs for broken ribs include painful or labored breathing, frothy breath (a sign of a possible punctured lung due to a broken rib), and swelling.

If she yelps when you touch her in the suspect area, take her to the clinic.

The Skull and Spinal Column

If the skull is fractured, it's very likely that your dog will be unconscious. If she's not conscious, and she's breathing, don't bother with looking for other fracture signs. Stabilize her and get her to the clinic as quickly as possible.

A fractured vertebra may cause full or partial paralysis, so if you suspect a fracture, see if she can move her legs. If she can't, immobilize her if possible and get her to the clinic.


If you know your dog's fracture signs, you'll be able to diagnose, or at least narrow down, the problem and treat it effectively until she's stable enough to be moved.

Learn how to provide dog first aid for fractures so you can reduce the risk of further injury and possible infection.


To Dog Symptoms from Fracture Signs