Fracture Repair Surgery

White and gray cat with her back leg in a pink cast

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

Why does my pet’s fracture require surgery?

Your pet may require fracture repair surgery to ensure that their bones heal correctly and to decrease future pain and lameness. Radiographs will help determine if surgery is necessary. The veterinary team will create a treatment plan based on your pet’s age, body, injury, and health status to give your pet the best possible outcome.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water until the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Fracture Repair Surgery

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease risk of potential infection.

The surgeon will then perform the fracture repair surgery. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, the surgeon will place plates and/or pins internally or externally to reduce the fracture and limit movement. A splint may be placed externally to protect the repair while it heals.

Caring for Your Pet After Fracture Repair Surgery

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm after surgery.

  • Keep your pet away from all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed for at least 14 days after surgery
  • See below for more detailed rehabilitation instructions

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection and scarring.

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk

Give all medications as directed

  • These will include medication to control post-operative pain and may also include an antibiotic. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the medications with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • There may be moderate bruising or swelling that extends down the leg.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed as well as under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Follow-up appointments

Please schedule an appointment for 10-14 days after surgery. This is an incision check to ensure proper healing and to remove external sutures, if present.

We will also schedule an appointment for eight weeks after surgery. At this appointment, we will take radiographs to ensure there are no issues with the implants (pin/plates) and that healing is going as expected.

Your pet may need to be sedated for these procedures, so please plan accordingly.

How long will it take my pet to recover from fracture repair surgery?

We want to maintain muscle mass and range of motion in the limb and joints, but the most important thing is to give the bone sufficient chance to rest to allow it to heal without putting too much stress on the surgical hardware that was placed. Therefore, limiting activity for at least the first two months after surgery is crucial.

For the first two weeks, we recommend short and slow walks on a leash (about enough to urinate and defecate) up to four times daily.

Starting on week three, you may add five minutes per walk per week, up to four times daily.

During the entire eight weeks until the follow-up x-rays, running, jumping, and playing should be avoided.

Please let your veterinarian know if there is a lack of improvement in the amount of weight placed on the leg as the weeks go on or if there is a worsening lasting more than a couple of days.

Rare, but serious surgical complications

Complications from fracture repair surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Infection of surgical site
  • Infection of implant (plate or pins) – this would require an additional surgery to remove the implant
  • Poor or no bone healing – this may eventually require leg amputation

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours