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Can A Dog Walk With A Fractured Pelvis

My Dog Has A Fractured Pelvis, What Now?

If your pup has experienced a fractured pelvis, you’ve probably got many questions, including the question of can a dog walk with a fractured pelvis. First, please keep in mind that this article simply intends to amalgamate the information on this subject which can be found online; it’s not meant to replace visits to the vet by any means. Try to restrict your pup’s movement for up to 4-6 weeks before encouraging normal walking again. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the context surrounding pelvis fractures, the treatment and recovery, as well as the timeline of when your pup can walk again.

What is your dog's pelvis?

As a starting point, pelvis’ are an essential body part for numerous animals, whether they’re cats, dogs, bears, or chimpanzees; two symmetrical halves, comprised of the ilium, ischium, and pubis, join together to form the pelvis, allowing the backbone to connect with the leg bones.

Being irregularly shaped, it’s actually quite difficult for orthopedic surgeons to correctly contour plates to help stabilize pelvis bone fractures; therefore, skilled hands are often required. Plus, that’s before considering how the pelvis is surrounded by muscles and tendons, making for difficulties in performing surgery. As a positive, however, the tendons and muscles encasing the pelvis actually act as a natural cast for the pelvis, often dispelling the need for surgical plates.

What is a pelvis fracture on a dog?

Pelvis fractures are one of the most common types of fractures in dogs (and cats). Anecdotally, it seems as though most pelvic fractures for pups happen due to collisions with cars, where the rear-end takes the brunt of the damage. Being an oddly shaped body part, comprising three sub-components, pelvic fractures often occur in groups of fractures, rather than a single point of failure. Also, accidents which cause pelvic fractures (such as car accidents) can damage surrounding part of the anatomy, such as the kidneys or surrounding nerves, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for other symptoms which aren’t necessarily counted for by a fractured pelvis. While a fractured pelvis is certainly cause for concern, it’s not nearly as bad as other injuries, such as hip fractures, so stay strong and positive if your pup may have experienced a fracture!

After taking your pup to the vet and X-rays have been taken, you’ll have a better idea of whether your dog requires surgery or not. Remember that the muscles and tendons surrounding the pelvis act as a natural cast, so non-severe cases can often be remedied with time and patience, so long as the spine, hips, and legs are okay. Surgery may also be required, nonetheless, which probably wouldn’t be terribly cheap! With that being the case, try to consult other vets, friends, and family to determine the best course of action for you, your dog, and your financial situation.

Recovery

Your pup’s recovery will take loving care and patience from both you and your dog; from bathroom visits, to physiotherapy, to feeding, you or a family member will most likely need to extensively keep an eye on your pup during the recovery process. 

When it comes to waste management, you’ll want to get in tune with your dog’s rhythm and assist your pup in going pee or poo. Actually, when first experiencing the injury, your pup might be in too much pain to excrete independently, so an enema from the vet could be required; it’s not unusual that the bladder, rectum, or nerves are also damaged when the pelvis is fractured. If your pup can expel waste, then try supporting your pup’s hind legs with a towel, acting as a sling so your dog can walk solely on the front legs, and do your best to help them out. 

Restricting your dog’s mobility is vital to prevent any further damage to the pelvis. Using a gated pen, or a kennel, strongly encourage your dog to limit movement. In safe, non-busy areas, you might (after the first several days of recovery) feel comfortable with walking your dog in a stroller or wagon, so your dog can still experience the scents of the neighborhood, but certainly aim to restrict their ability to walk and accidentally re-injure themselves! While you should restrict your dog’s movement, know that dogs can experience bed sores just like humans, so use your best judgment for a proper balance. Last but not least, keep your dog’s sleeping area dry and clean – that should help your dog’s spirits stay high, while also mitigating risks of getting sick during the physically taxing recovery period.

Physiotherapy for your dog might be worthwhile, if it’s possible to have the work done right. As you can guess from the 2-6 week recovery period (typically), muscle atrophy can easily take shape, which can be mitigated by stimulating the muscles via stretching, heat therapy, and massage. Physiotherapy for dogs is best done by a professional and it’s not necessarily crucial for all cases of pelvic fractures.

Feeding While Recovering

Another crucial aspect of a fractured pelvis recovery is the feeding of your dog. As many vet say, the best recovery diet is anything your dog will actually eat; during this unique period, don’t worry about spoiling your pup if treats are the only food they’ll consume, since they’ll need calories to recover. With your dog being relegated to the kennel or pen, bring them the food and water when needed, and keep it close to their “hospital bed”.

Walking After Recovery

When wondering when your dog can walk after fracturing the pelvis, you might wonder how medications can play into the equation. In this article, we’d certainly recommend to speak directly with your veterinarian about what’s best for your dog. It appears that tylenol, typical 1 tablet (325mg) per 40 lb of bodyweight, every 8 hours, is sometimes a vet’s rule of thumb. Ibuprofen is possibly unsafe for a dog’s consumption. 

Your dog probably won’t be ready to walk until the recovery period has elapsed. Roughly, the full healing time can be 4 weeks for young puppies and 8-12 weeks for older dogs. In the meantime, again you could consider bringing your dog on walks via a stroller or doggy wagon. During the recovery period, however, more restrictions on mobility will mean faster rehabilitation.

Conclusion

With this article, you've hopefully gathered that dogs should certainly minimize or eliminate dog walking while recovering from a fractured pelvis. Also, the context of how pelvis’ are fractured, and different crowd-sourced opinions on the best recovery strategy were also explored. Best of luck to your dog in her or his recovery! Pelvis fractures are among the most common fractures in animal hospitals, so it’s an area with thankfully lots of online information and veterinarian know-how.

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