How to Know If a Dog Broke His Paw

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There are a few things to look for to see if your dog's paw is broken.
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Puppy guardians and anyone with a dog who likes to roughhouse know this scenario all too well — you see your dog take a tumble, notice him limping and assume the worst, only to see her walk it off just a little while later. Dogs are well-known for their ability to recover from a spill like it's nothing, but sometimes, that limp or lag in their walk may indicate that something is really wrong. If you've ever wondered whether your dog has a broken paw, there are a few key things to look out for.


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Symptoms of broken paws

A dog can break or injure her foot a number of ways, including getting her foot caught in fencing or flooring, having her foot stepped on, being hit by a car, or even stubbing her toe, says Blue Pearl Vet. With a broken paw, a dog will often act similarly to a human with a broken foot. Often, a dog with a broken paw will limp and will be unable to put much, if any, weight on that paw, or they may hold that paw up in the air. Additionally, you may notice swelling of the paw, or even single toes if your dog has broken a toe. Some dogs may yelp or cry when you attempt to move or touch the paw, or may even act out aggressively if the pain is unbearable.


When to see a vet

While limps and scrapes can often be waited out, sometimes a visit to a medical professional is in order. According to VCA Hospitals, you may attempt to examine your dog's paw by gently touching and inspecting the area, but if the exam becomes too painful or if your dog becomes aggressive, it's best left to the pros to reduce the risk of further injury. Keep your pet confined to a small area as well as possible on your way to the doctor, like a crate or box, and resist the urge to give your pet any medication or treatment until you see a doctor, The American College of Veterinary Surgeons recommends.


If your dog's paw is broken, your veterinarian will likely recommend surgery, splinting and setting, or even amputation in severe cases. If you see any bone sticking through the skin, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. For a dog, a broken foot is a serious injury, and will require medical attention and aftercare.


Caring for an injured paw

Whether your canine's paw is broken, sprained, scratched, or otherwise limited by an injury, a certain level of care should be administered in order to assist her on the road to recovery. Confinement is key, as is limiting most physical activity, like running, jumping on or off furniture, and playing with other animals. Be sure to continue all prescribed medication until it's finished, and monitor any bandages or aftercare items by keeping them dry, clean, and unchewed. Contact your vet if you notice any foul odor. Splints and casts can sometimes be on a dog's paw for eight to 10 weeks and surgical procedures may have a similar recovery time.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.