What Should You Do if Your Dog Has a Broken Toe?

Dogs can break bones just like humans can. However, if your dog has a broken toe, it might be harder to spot than a larger broken bone. Your dog can’t verbally tell you when they’re in pain, so it’s up to you to notice when their behaviors change. If you don’t seek help for your dog’s broken toe right away, it could heal wrong.

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A broken toe refers to a fracture in the bones of your dog’s toes. Sometimes, the fracture could be as small as a strand of hair, but other times, the bone could be completely broken in two. But regardless of how big or small the fracture is, it can still be painful. So, what should you do if your dog has a broken toe?

How to Tell if Your Dog has a Broken Toe

Like all health concerns, there are some signs you should look out for. Your dog might exhibit regular signs of pain, such as whining when they put pressure on their toe. If you notice unusual behaviors when you touch a specific part of your dog’s body, it could be due to a fracture or another injury. If it’s causing them extreme pain, they might even growl or nip at you if you try to touch their toe.

Here are some signs of a broken toe:

  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Crying in pain
  • Holding up paw
  • Licking paw excessively
  • Abnormal movements

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should visit the vet to find the root of the problem. A broken toe can’t be diagnosed without an x-ray. Usually, these x-rays only take a few minutes to complete, and you should be able to get the results right away. So, if your dog is clearly in pain, don’t hesitate when it comes to visiting the vet. The longer your dog has to walk on a broken toe, the more in pain they’ll be.

What Causes Broken Toes for Dogs?

A broken toe can be caused by a variety of different things. In many cases, these causes can be difficult to avoid. Yet, if you’re careful with your dog and you keep an eye on them in crowded areas, you should be able to help keep them safer. Here are a few instances where your dog could get a broken toe.

Getting Stepped on

Dogs often get anxious if there are lots of people walking around them, especially if they’re a small breed. Since many humans don’t look down when they walk, it’s easy for them to accidentally step on a dog’s toe. So, you should keep your dog close to you whenever there are lots of feet near their toes.

Jumping off Something 

Small dogs and senior dogs are at a higher risk of breaking their toes after jumping off something. Dogs often misjudge how high something is, and they’ll jump off without thinking twice. If the land is too hard on your dog’s bones, your pup could break even more than just their toe. So, help your dog down from high surfaces and use dog stairs if needed.

Getting Their Toe Stuck

Dog toes can easily get stuck in small crevices, especially if their nails aren’t trimmed often. Whether it’s in between the boards of a deck or in a fence, their toe could break if it gets stuck and they panic. If you have any of these hazards in your home, you might want to find a way to cover them up. Trimming your dog’s nails regularly can also help keep them shorter and less likely to get caught on things.

Getting in a Car Accident

Dogs who run off leash or dogs who get lost are at risk of getting in a car accident. In some cases, accidents can be deadly, but dogs often survive with several broken bones. Thus, it’s important to always keep an eye on your dog while outside. Don’t allow them off-leash unless they’re in a secure area.

Stubbing Toe

Stubbing a toe is not a pleasant experience for people or animals, but usually, they recover quickly from it. However, dogs love to run around and play, which could cause them to ram their toe pretty hard if they’re not careful.

Getting Bit by a Dog

Dogs can get into quarrels, even if they’re usually well-behaved. When this happens, they tend to grab each other wherever they can, and toes are usually an easy target. If you’re not able to break up the fight in time, a dog bite could potentially break your dog’s toe.

Not Getting Proper Nutrition

Believe it or not, having an insufficient diet can also make your dog more prone to a broken toe. Dogs who are malnourished and dogs who aren’t getting enough calcium could have weaker bones. This means that all of the above instances will be much riskier for them. Even just jumping off the couch could cause a fracture for a dog with weak bones.

How to Treat a Dog’s Broken Toe

Treatment for your dog’s broken toe depends on the severity of the fracture. Most fractures can be healed by simply putting a splint or cast on it. It will take a minimum of one month for the fracture to heal that way. During that time, you should be cautious about how much pressure your dog puts on that foot. You’ll need to make sure they’re not running around or jumping on that foot like they usually would. You may need to confine your dog to a smaller area to refrain them from jumping onto things.

If the fracture is more extreme, surgery is an option. This would consist of vets securing the fracture with plates, screws, pins, or wires. Oftentimes, your dog will still have to wear a splint or cast for a few weeks following the surgery. Pain or anti-inflammatory medications may need to be prescribed to your dog to help with the healing process.

After surgery, you’ll likely just have to give your dog time to heal. However, complications like inflammation, failure to heal, or broken metal implants could stunt the healing process. At that point, you’ll need to talk with your vet to decide the next steps to take.

Visiting the vet is never cheap or easy, but it’s essential for keeping your dog healthy. If you suspect that your dog has a broken toe, you should seek medical attention right away. The sooner you get their toe looked at, the faster their toe will be able to heal.

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