Broken Bones. “80 Percent of all pet hospital visits are because of broken bones! Simple surgeries can cost up to $5,000 with complications.” We will be discussing these issues and more on my free Broken Bone Advice teleconference on the 30th. If you suspect that your pet may have broken or fractured a bone, the first thing that you should do is try to keep your pet calm. If he’s nervous, wrap him in a blanket. Put him in your car and take him to your veterinarian. If it’s after hours, you want to take your pet to the nearest emergency facility.
Number two: Once you’re at the vet, the veterinarian should examine the dog. If there is a suspicion of a fracture, they should take x-rays. Any area of the body that’s x-rayed needs to have two views. And most modern veterinary clinics have their x-rays set up so that the owner can receive a copy of their x-rays on a CD. What’s nice about that is that by having that information, you can also share that information and get second opinions if necessary as well as use that information to compare it to postoperative x-rays and healing x-rays to be sure that your pet’s fracture is completely healed.
Once the veterinarian has determined that there is, indeed, a fracture, it’s important to ask your vet to clearly show you the fracture on the x-ray and it’s important for you to understand what type of a fracture it is. Is it a simple fracture, where the bones are not displaced but there is a crack in the bone? Is it a fracture where the bones are displaced, or is it a very complicated fracture where not only are the bones displaced but there are various pieces of bone that need to be put back together?
The next thing that will happen is that the veterinarian will offer you suggestions on how to fix the fracture. There are various methods of fixing any type of a fracture from the simplest, which would be a splint and cage rest to the most advanced, which would be bone plates. The type of fixation or repair that the fracture requires will vary depending on the type of fracture and the cost.
Today we are facing some very difficult economic times. And believe me, veterinarians are like anyone else – in business to make money. So it’s important to clarify your options, as well as to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of one type of fixation versus another.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the size or the body weight of your dog as well as the age of your dog. The younger your dog is, and the less he or she weighs, the faster that fracture will heal and your cost will be considerably reduced. The bigger the dog is and the older the dog is, the more complicated everything becomes.
I get lots of calls from people who have been quoted very high amounts of money for a fracture to be repaired and many of these people are not in a financial position to afford the most deluxe treatment for their particular animal. Remember that in 99.9 percent of cases, no matter what the size or the age of the dog, or the severity of the fracture, Mother Nature, rest, nutrition and supplements will heal almost anything.
Another thing that’s important for pet owners to keep in mind is that when a veterinarian quotes you a fee for a surgical repair of a bone fracture, get the estimate in writing. And then review it with the veterinarian. An estimate for surgery should include the cost of the surgery itself as well as any and all care that will be required after the initial operation. The price should include post-op x-rays. No matter how many will be required. And for those animals that have a fracture being healed with a pin, the cost should also include removing that pin once the fracture is healed.
I speak to many, many people who have gone through tremendous expense and time to pay for a surgical fixation of a broken bone. But they then run out of money. They don’t return to the vet to see whether or not the fracture is healed and the whether or not that particular pin should be removed. That’s something that you want to avoid. And that you can easily avoid by addressing these things before any money exchanges hands. So that you and the vet are both on the same page when it comes to the care of your dog.
After the operation is complete, I think one of the best things an owner can do is before you go to pick up your dog, make a list of what questions you need to review with the veterinarian before you leave, so there is no question in your mind as what you need to do to care for your dog post-operatively.
You need to address diet, nutrition, supplements, postoperative x-rays, how to handle getting the dog out to go to the bathroom. Whether or not the dog needs to be confined. How many times a day he should go out. And what you need to do as far as keeping that area clean and dry, and keeping your pet in the best possible mental and physical health while all this is going on.
I also get a lot of questions from people who have dogs who are filled with vim and vigor, very energetic, and the veterinarian tells them the dog needs to go home and rest calmly and they don’t know to address this issue.