What to do if Your Dog Has a Broken Toe?

Dogs can break a toe just like people can. Unlike people, dogs only have 4 of them. Your dog cannot tell you if they have broken a bone. It is up to you to notice the signs and get your dog help when they need it.

If you think your dog has a broken toe, you should consult your veterinarian to determine the best treatment for your dog’s broken bone. It is hard to differentiate between a sprain and a broken toe. A broken toe will either require a splint, surgery, or amputation. When left untreated, a broken toe runs the risk of becoming infected.

Let’s discuss what to look out for when determining if your dog has a broken toe.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Broken Toe

If you have searched for advice on a broken toe, you have likely seen a few signs in your dog that may worry you. But you are not alone; a broken toe is one of the most common injuries seen in dogs.

Dogs have a similar bone structure in their paws as people do in their hands and feet. They have metatarsals and metacarpals in the front and back. The toes are called digits, and the tips of the bones are called phalanges.

Each dog and breed will have a different pain tolerance and show slightly different symptoms.

Signs of a Broken Toe on Your Dog

Some dogs will shy away and hide when hurt, while others will become clingy. A change in behavior is a tell-tale sign that your dog needs a little extra attention.

Other signs of a broken toe include:

  • Limping
  • Swelling of the affected toe
  • Lameness in the leg
  • Crying when touched
  • Holding paw up
  • Licking a paw
  • A noticeable cut or abrasion
  • A change in behavior

Because the middle toes are weight-bearing, it is more common to notice your dog limping when they are injured. You might not see a limp if the outer toes are hurt.

Swelling will be noticeable on a broken toe. If you’re unsure if the paw has swelling after comparing paws, you can monitor the foot for a few days. A sprain can sometimes show similar symptoms as a broken bone but may not have the same kind of swelling as a full break.

Immediately stop touching your dog’s paw if they start whining or whimpering. Continuously touching a broken toe can aggravate it or make it worse. If your dog is crying, it is best to visit the vet immediately as there is a good chance it is a break and not just a sprain.

How Does a Dog’s Toe Get Broken?

A toe break can happen when your dog has had any trauma to the foot.

  • Car accident
  • Getting stepped on
  • Getting stuck on something
  • Jumping wrong
  • Getting bitten
  • Malnourishment

Malnourishment happens when your dog is not getting enough calcium in its diet.

Low calcium causes bones to become brittle.

Other signs of calcium deficiency include lethargy, stiffness, and muscle twitching. If you are feeding your dog store-bought dog food, it may be best to double-check that you are feeding the right amount if you see any of these signs. If you are making your food at home, talk to your vet about adding calcium and vitamins to your dog’s diet.

When to See a Vet?

If you are concerned your dog has broken a toe, it is best to see a vet as soon as possible. An open wound or crying from your dog merits an emergency visit. However, if your dog is limping slightly or shows a modest change in behavior, you may be able to wait for your regular vet to be available.

Your vet will take x-rays to determine the injury. They can see everything from a hairline fracture to a full break.

Dogs are highly susceptible to infection.

Dog’s don’t understand that they need to keep a wound clean. It is common for them to lick an area that is open or hurting. Licking is a comfort behavior that is not easy to stop. Dog’s have dirty mouths that can introduce a host of bacteria into an open wound.

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Broken Toe

If you believe your dog has a broken toe, it is best to see your vet immediately. You cannot fix a broken toe at home. Here are a few steps you can take to make your dog more comfortable while preparing for your vet visit.

What to do immediately

  • Don’t let your dog put any more weight on the toe
  • Wrap the paw with a clean towel if you see any bleeding or open wound
  • Wrap your dog in a blanket if you think it is going into shock

How to Care For Your Dog After a Diagnosis

The vet has three treatment options for a broken paw.

  1. Splinting
  2. Surgical repair
  3. Amputation of the toe

It is not uncommon for the toe to be amputated if the break is severe. There is also a chance of amputation if the break did not heal correctly and a dog shows signs of pain or discomfort when walking.

Your vet will send you home with care instructions for the treatment your dog needs.

Arthritis is a common issue in dogs that have had a break on a joint. Talk to your doctor about how to spot arthritis in your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Dog’s Broken Toe

Will a Dog’s Broken Toe Heal on Its Own?

A broken or fractured toe left untreated on a dog could lead to infection. It can also heal incorrectly, causing a dog pain when it walks. Infection is a common complication when letting the toe heal on its own.

How Long Does a Dog Toe Take to Heal?

A broken bone on a dog takes an average of one month to heal. The age of the dog and the activity level of the dog affect healing time.

An older dog will take longer to heal. You should allow 8 to 10 weeks for a senior dog’s bone to heal. A dog with high energy may be difficult to keep inactive. Too much movement will slow or alter the healing of the bone, causing healing in highly active dogs to take longer.

How Do You Tell If a Dog’s Paw is Sprained or Broken?

Symptoms of a sprain in a dog’s toe are similar to a break. Without an x-ray of the affected area, it is hard to know if lameness and pain are due to a sprain or a fracture. A sprain will not be warm to the touch. If your dog’s foot or toe is warm, it is likely due to an infection and, more commonly, a break or fracture.

Can a Dog Walk on a Broken Toe?

A dog can walk on a broken toe if it is not a weight-bearing toe. The middle two toes on each paw bear most of your dog’s weight. If one of these toes is affected, a limp is more likely.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Dog’s Broken Toe at The Vet?

The price of fixing a dog’s toe varies greatly on how severe the break is. The cost to treat your dog’s broken toe can range from $200 for a splint to $1,000 or more for surgery.

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