Broken Leg Healing Advice


Hope it never happens, but if you ever need it
Here is my best advice for a successful healing job on a leg break...

Having heard the real death scream only once and never wishing to repeat it, we all should know how to handle the worst, should it happen and we sincerely hope it never does....


Zelda with a broken leg


Immediately immobilize the poor iggy as best you can and if at all possible, splint the leg asap....if you cannot or aren't capable and most people can't, keep them resting against something firm and immobile till you get to the emergency for a splint.

Once splinted, you can relax and the screaming will stop and then you can decide upon the best course of action or best orthopoedist you can find. Pin or plate depend upon the type of break, the most common being the radial/ulna total displacement (broke in half and laying side by side OUCH)

Always follow vet advice but here's my best advice for the ensuing weeks for your iggie. And if this is a normal break it will assure you of the best possibility of a totally normal looking and well functioning leg. Also, never be afraid to question your vet, or bring up issues. I always prefer a Board Certified Orthopedist for something like this.

Broken legs are pretty simple, but I'm sure it depends upon the break and whether it's pinned or plated...the most common being a radial/ulna total displacement normally plated.

Best advice I can give you is 24/7 in a 200 crate or leashed on your lap for companionship for time-outs. Hand carry to a covered expen and do not leave unattended. NO jumping, or fast movement or spinning or anything allowed...soon as the potty is over, back to the crate with a warm bed and loose fleece to wrap up in...if the nights are cold, I cover the top/sides of my crate with a fleece too. With all the inactivity and the coldness of the plate, warmth is essential, so they don't have a problem adjusting to it.

The first week keep a real close eye on the cast, as they tend to swell about then...so the cast may become too tight and need changing..you usually can feel toes and keep a close eye. That's when rubbing can occur. Keep vetwrap and curity cloth tape handy and get the vet to give you a sprayer of Banguard, you may have to use it daily to keep them from chewing...if they work on it a bit you can salvage by a reasonably loose addition of more vet wrap and one circle of tape. and respray. Otherwise rubbing isn't a problem unless the dog is moving and walking too much and it shouldn't be doing either. Of course I guess that also depends upon your vet's style of cast too.

It's totally boring for them but they get used to it and they atrophy fast, so really make sure they get no excersize at all for the usual 8 weeks other than a leash walk around the room a time or two a day. I kept Lula near her own TV for the whole time and warm.
Chewies can help but be careful they don't ingest a constant supply out of boredom...other toys are ok if they don't try to play hard with them in the crate.

Keep the cast dry as a bone, if the iggy messes in your crate it will not be easy, so often potty breaks,,,I found plastic bags were a pain and my yard is grass, so I used plain old fashioned unlubricated rubbers, you can get a few days use out of them if they're not on pavement, and I wouldn't recommend pavement anyway due to the splash potential on them and them being locked up so much.

Don't expect them to put too much weight on it right away, but they will use it after awhile.

Next is when it comes off, and that is the most important time for rehab, just follow vet advice and hand walk on leash adding just a bit more each day for a number of weeks...also swap out the side your iggie walks on so all tendons and ligaments build up equally. Still crate and expen and no playing for many weeks...it'll likely be about 8 weeks cast and another 8 to 12 weeks rehab to get it perfect and the first time you let them jump on a sofa you'll swallow your throat,,,but gotta tell ya, if you do it this way, you can almost assuredly have a totally sound iggy without a large swollen calcified leg...

Some breeders do not like taking plates out unless they pose a problem, but with a young dog some do, then it's a few months of rehab all over again while the screw holes close up. And usually that's after a few yrs. with it in.

We elected to take Lula’s plate out about 9 mos. after she healed and during a spay surgery. She had one screw starting to loosen, so it was the right decision for her. I’ve never regretted it, as she has a beautifully healed leg that barely shows a scar and no lumps or bumps.

Important to know though is while it's in, really rough play should not take place with a larger animal as a new break will be above or below the plate and likely splinter. That said, they do heal up nice and strong with the above method.

Lula is now 5 years post surgery and runs like the dickens, however knows how to protect against bullies. She's on and off the furniture and perfectly sound and has even shown. At 3 yrs. post surgery she took up LGRA (straight racing for sighthounds and points only). She now has almost completed her fist title of GRC.

If the plate stays in, cold weather can be bothersome to some iggies...check with the vet about that in your area.


So that's it in a huge nutshell. I hope you never need to know, but if you do, this information can be helpful.

I hope you find this helpful, I know several people who have followed the same routine very successfully.

(Written by Vikki Landes 2002, updated 2008)

Iggy Planet member, vfolly