Dog broken leg symptoms

Updated November 21, 2016

It is never a good idea to diagnose or treat a dog with a broken leg at home. Broken legs are serious and, if not treated properly, can put your dog's future mobility and even life in jeopardy. Most breaks happen through trauma. This can happen if your dog is hit by a car, falls or jumps from a high place. You may not even know your dog has had an accident. If you suspect a broken leg in your dog, consult your veterinarian right away.


A broken leg in your dog can be serious. If left untreated, a broken leg can heal wrong or not heal at all, leaving your pet crippled for life. Broken legs can also lead to life-threatening complications like bacterial infections. If infection sets in that can lead to gang green. Gang green is when an infection moves into the blood stream. The prognosis is not good if your dog gets gang green. Not only can he lose the leg, but gang green is often fatal. Broken legs are painful and your dog will struggle to move.

Visible Signs

Some of the visible signs of a broken leg are not that much different in dogs than in people. You may notice swelling or bleeding. The leg will swell around the break. This could be minor swelling or swelling to the point the leg is unrecognisable as a leg. The trauma that caused the break may have left an open wound. Your dog may not be able to support her weight on the broken leg. She will hold it off the floor and hop around on three legs. The leg may appear visually misshapen or out-of-place.

Behavioural Signs

You might notice a change in your dog's behaviour. He may not want to be touched or petted. He may want to lay around and lick his leg. The leg may be numb, and your dog may not respond to stimuli like pinching or poking the leg. Your dog may become aggressive or snarly if you attempt to touch or move the leg.


A lot of people believe a broken leg can be detected by simply trying to bend the leg at the suspected break. The idea is that if the leg is broke the bone will "bend." That is not the case. In fact, most broken bones are fractures that do not go all the way through the bone. Attempting to bend the leg will not only be painful for your dog but you may make the fracture worse.


If your dog has had an accident, and you suspect a broken leg, call your veterinarian. The only way to truly diagnose a break or fracture is to have an X-ray. Trauma and broken legs can send your dog into shock. Shock can be fatal and needs immediate veterinary treatment. Symptoms of shock include white gums, rapid but weak pulse, rapid breathing and convulsions. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, get him to a veterinarian right away.

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