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Recovery From A Broken Leg


Guest LazyBlaze
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Guest LazyBlaze

Hi guys, am hoping some of you might have some experience and advice to share.

 

A few weeks ago Blaze broke his front right leg whilst running with our foster whippet girlie. He turned too sharply when chasing her and broke his radius at the wrist joint (an oblique fracture into the joint). The bone broke into three pieces and has been plated by an orthopaedic specialist. It was a pretty nasty injury and a horrific thing for us all to experience. :(

 

Blaze's recovery has been going okay up to this point; he had his splint removed last week but is still being rested very strictly (confinement to a single room, no stairs or furniture) until he gets his follow-up x-rays in mid October. After that, all being well, we will gradually increase the length of his walks to build strength. He is currently just getting 5 minute walks for toileting, increasing to 10 minutes over the next fortnight or so.

 

According to the ortho vet, Blaze should be able to return to normal activity, including running, over the next six months. It will be a slow process, but we would be very glad to hear of folks' experience with fracture recoveries, and with potential activity timetables/goals. The vet thinks we were just incredibly unlucky with this break, but my husband and I are both feeling very nervous about letting Blaze run free again, particularly to play with the whippet. She is just so quick and nimble, and loves to run and dodge. We are fostering her with the intent to adopt (although she has some behavioural issues we need to work with first), but it had been our hope that she and Blaze could be playmates. (Blaze is 5 and she is 2).

 

Does anyone have experience of bringing their greys through similar injuries? I guess I am just wondering if it will ever be advisable to let Blaze run flat out where turns are inevitable. Maybe running on sand would be easier than on grass? Or should we try only to have him run in straight lines? The vet said we would need to work on getting Blaze up gradually to what he called 'running fitness', as this would strengthen the joints and bones. Prior to the big chase with the whippet that ended in his leg break, Blaze's running mainly had been in smaller areas (garden or exercise area at the park) chasing a ball, rather than running in circles, so I realise now that he probably wasn't strong enough to play flat out like he did. His leg broke the very first time he played with her flat out in a very big space. Regrets, I've had a few... I am completely gutted about it and feel like I let him down. :( I thought I was giving him the chance to have fun, but it ended very badly for him. He is such a sweet, beautiful soul and deserves only good things. I realise now, too late, that it was like letting Usain Bolt compete in a final without having trained properly for two years.

 

Anyway, I can't change it now, however much I wish I could.

 

Any advice y'all have would be very gratefully received.

 

 

 

 

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Recovery differs from dog to dog and much depends on slowly buiding back muscle and keeping the joints and ligaments healthy. I rescued one of my Borzois at 18 months after a multiple fracture from playing almost exactly as you described. They were planning to breed from her but decided after that fracture that the bone structure was not good enough to breed with.

Recovery consisted of 12 weeks of slowly building up walks on an extending lead and towards the end of that period trotting beside the bickycle (she was very good at that.) I never went back to tossing balls as it makes for sudden stops which dissipate a heck of a lot of energy. Frisbee was better - but sight hounds tire of fetch after 2 or 3 throws.

Another of my dogs broke her hock joint and needed a pin in it. This happened on a beach and there must have been a stone or rock just buried under the sand where she was prancing about. That injury took about 12 weeks to mend as well, but resulted in a noticeable permanent though, not painful, limp.

 

You're bound to be worried abiout letting your dog run again and particularly worried when it's being done in competition with a frisky Whippet. I'd say you inveitably can't stop the risk of high impact turns, and the best you can do is to strenghten your dog's limb stucture. Hydrotherapy is good and you could use a canine lifejacket to give a muscly grey more bouyancy. Trotting is what I think is good for them.

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Guest LazyBlaze

Thanks John, this is really helpful and exactly the kind of info I was looking for. Having seen one leg break happen I never want to see another. I just want to get the balance right between allowing Blaze the exercise he needs and enjoys and not letting him endanger himself. I feel so apprehensive now. I used to take my old terrier for hydrotherapy so know it can be great, although I can't imagine Blaze in the pool! Maybe he would surprise me. Trotting is a great idea.

 

Thanks again. :thumbs-up

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I hate to be the one to bring this up, but is your vet SURE that Blaze doesn't have osteosarcoma? A huge number of cases are only discovered when a dog breaks a leg. I had a friend in the UK with a Spinone break his leg, and her vet just assumed it was just a broken leg--but when the fracture failed to heal, he looked more closely, and sure enough, what was left of the bone was cancerous.

 

Please make sure your vet has considered and positively ruled it out--

 

I certainly hope with all my heart it is just a break. But that sounds like a very bad break, and it would be rather unusual for a dog doing normal dog things to have a bone break like that.

 

Best of luck to you and your baby.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest LazyBlaze

Hi Susan, thanks, and yeah that crossed my mind as well. The ortho vet does seem really on the ball though, and had mentioned early on that he would be checking for any signs of bone weakness due to disease. He took a lot of x-rays, as well as working with the bone when he plated it during the surgery. I mentioned osteosarcoma to him and he said before the surgery that it was unlikely. But I will speak to him again when we're back for the follow-up x-rays just to be absolutely sure that he is also absolutely sure that osteo is not a factor.

 

Although Blaze's break came about through running, the type of running he was doing was not normal for him. He was in flat-out pursuit, in a way that he hasn't been since we got him two years ago (our old terrier was not up for running, and prior to our getting the whippet his main runs had been much shorter and more controlled). I am really hoping that this is a case of my own misjudgement about his strength and fitness levels, rather than anything more sinister, although it has weighed on my mind, and your post has encouraged me to follow it up more definitively.

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First of all, please don't blame yourself for Blaze's injury. The "shudda cudda's" don't apply here; this was an accident. I wish I could offer sage advice, but being in the same boat, I suppose I just want to commiserate. While my girlie's injury wasn't nearly as serious as Blaze's, (she dislocated a toe) it also happened during a sharp turn while chasing a whippet. She has been chasing Willy on a weekly basis now for nearly 2 years (on a sand base) and had no incidents until her injury 3 weeks ago. Complications ensued, and a very nasty infection developed under her bandages. As a consequence, her splint needed to be removed, and this has me wondering if the toe is healing well without any stability. She is still on antibiotics; and depending on how her wounds heal, she may be facing a skin graft.

 

I now wonder if we should keep Bonnie from playing with the whippet, or carry on as before. We meet with a nice bunch of greys and their peeps every weekend. Keeping Bonnie away would mean the end to these weekend meet ups, since the whippet is part of the group. I will do whatever is best for Bonnie, but I don't want to drastically change our lives if it's not going to make much difference in the scheme of things. When I asked the vet about her risk, he also felt it was equal to that of any dog. So what to do? I have a glimmer of hope, if strengthening exercises will help guard against future injury, but we're not yet at that point.

 

It's hard to know what the best option is for our greys. Whatever you decide, I wish you and Blaze a smooth and uneventful rehabilitation.

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I know that Blaze's is a different type and location, but our group has had several dogs this year with broken legs from racing. In that case is it almost always the right rear, since that takes the most stress when rounding corners. All of ours this year and previously have healed beautifully, and really without any noticable side effects. I beleive one of them had to have the hardware removed, but they all made successful transitions to pet life post surgery.

 

Please don't blame yourself, these things happen and they are noone's fault. I also know that whippets are typically better at cornering than greys due to their smaller size. That is why they have an edge in lure coursing. Blaze knows you love him, just follow the ortho vet's instructions and he will be good as new. It sounds like the vet is right on top of everything, it's really wonderful to have such a capable practitioner to work with.

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Guest LazyBlaze

Deboosh and budsmom, thank you both so much.

 

Deboosh, I hope Bonnie makes a good recovery from her sore toe. My old shepherd boy broke a toe chasing a fox and the splint kept coming off, so I remember it healed fine without support in the end. Hopefully Bonnie's does too, and that she doesn't need the graft, poor sweetie. It sounds in your case as though it really was just a freak accident; if she has been playing well with the whippet for a couple of years then hopefully she can do so again without incident. Heart-in-mouth time for us owners though with these delicate greys...

 

budsmom, your post gives me hope. Thanks again.

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