How to Know If a Dog Broke His Paw

By Jen Davis

A broken bone in your dog's paw can cause him a significant amount of pain, especially if it is not set properly or allowed to heal correctly. If you believe your dog has a broken paw, take him to the veterinarian immediately so that the injury is not made worse by use.

Signs of a Broken Paw

A broken paw is typically the result of an accident or traumatic injury. Symptoms tend to appear pretty much immediately after the incident has occurred. If your dog's paw is broken, he will be reluctant to put any weight on it. He may be limping on the leg or holding the injured leg off the ground. Because broken bones tend to be caused by accidental injury, the paw may show signs of injury such as swelling, missing hair or cuts.

Examining the Injured Paw

If you notice your dog is limping, examine his paw closely. Some dogs may nip or bite as a response to pain, so it is generally a good idea to muzzle your dog if you think he will bite or snap. Determine if the dog appears to be holding his leg at a strange angle. Check for any outward signs of injury, such as cuts. Examine the paw pads closely to make sure that there are no foreign objects lodged in the paw pads. If you cannot see any external cause for your dog's pain, there is a good chance the pain may be caused by a broken bone.

Diagnosing a Broken Paw

Your dog needs to go to the veterinarian immediately if you believe he has a broken paw. Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog's broken paw by examining the injury and X-rays it to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type of break and the extent of the damage. The X-rays will be used to help your veterinarian determine the best type of treatment.

Treatment for Broken Paws

Severe breaks may have to be realigned surgically and held in place using pins, rods and other surgical equipment. A cast is often used to keep the broken bones from moving until they have healed. If your dog has an open wound in addition to the break, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics as well.