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Fracture of the Metatarsus and Metacarpus in Dogs

By: Dr. David Diamond

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After discharge from the hospital, the animal must be restricted from activity to allow the fracture time to heal properly. Activity must be restricted for several weeks after surgery; the duration will vary depending on the severity of the injury and any concurrent injuries the animal may have. Restricted activity means that the animal should be kept confined to a carrier, crate, or small room whenever he cannot be supervised. Playing and rough-housing should be avoided, even if he appears to be feeling well. The use of stairs should be limited, and outdoor walks should be just long enough for the dog to relieve himself and then should be returned indoors for more rest.

The cast or splint must be monitored closely during the recovery period. If it becomes wet or soiled, it should be removed and replaced with new materials. The end of the foot should be covered with a plastic bag when the dog is taken outside to keep it from becoming wet. When brought back indoors, the bag must be removed. The toes that may be visible at the tip of the bandage should be watched for swelling, discharge or odor. If the dog begins chewing at the cast or splint, there might be a problem that should be checked by the veterinarian. Generally, the veterinarian will want to check or change the bandage materials regularly to make sure that there are no hidden problems and that the dog is progressing well.

Analgesics (pain medications), such as butorphanol (Torbugesic®), or anti-inflammatories, such as deracoxib, aspirin or carprofen (Rimadyl®), should be given as directed by the veterinarian.

If surgery was performed, there will be a skin incision that will be concealed by the bandage. Your veterinarian will check the incision and remove any sutures at one of the follow-up appointments.

If at any point prior to the recheck radiographs being taken the dog stops using the leg again after some improvement following surgery, there could be a problem.

Several weeks after surgery, the foot will need to be radiographed again to make sure the bones are healing properly. If the healing has occurred as expected, the cast or splint may be replaced with a less supportive soft-padded bandage, or may be left off altogether, and the dog's activity level will be allowed to increase slowly back up to normal over the next few weeks.

In general, any implants that were used in the repair will be left in place unless they cause the animal a problem at some point in the future. Potential problems can include migration (movement) or infection of the implants.
        

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