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How to prevent and treat a broken toe in dogs properly – A must-read guide for dog owners

Just like humans, most of the dog breeds are prone to some injuries in many body parts, and a broken or fractured toe is not something unusual. In most cases, this problem is not often noticed promptly by the owners partly because the symptoms might not obvious. In other words, they would think that their dog is in pain, but do not notice that his toe is broken. In this article, you will learn how to prevent this from occurring as well as the best treatment for your dog.

The Anatomy Of Dog’s Toes

​If you look at your dog when he is walking, you might assume that it is totally like us, meaning that he walk on his feet. However, the fact is that dogs are actually classified as a digitigrade animal and walk on their toes. In addition, what we believe to be their feet and hands are just the bones of their toes and fingers.

​What Causes A Broken Toe?

A dog is no different than a human in that he could fracture accidentally his leg bone during the time of playing or exercising. Among these, fractures of the weight and long bearing bones are most common. However, not all incidents result in a broken toe. Instead, legs could also be classified or dislocated as a hairline fracture, meaning a small crack in the dog’s bone.​

In general, dogs tend to break their toes from trauma. For example, the leg of your pet might be fractured as a result of getting stuck between the wooden planks of a deck or a bench, or jammed under the wire of a crate. In addition, other common causes for this are probably the fall of heavy objects or car accidents.​

​To sum up, the following are some common causes of a broken toe in dogs:

  • Dog breeds: toy breeds are easier to break and have smaller bones
  • Age: young dogs often have not fully formed bones, which are easy to break
  • Fall from high places
  • Inherited weak bones or collagen defect
  • Bone cancer
  • Bad diet, which includes too much vitamin A, phosphorus and lacks calcium.
  • Exercise, run, and play
  • Vehicular trauma
  • Underlying diseases

Common Symptoms Of Broken Toe In Dogs

In many situations, a dog owner would notice the event that result in the fracture. However, sometimes a pet suffers a broken toe without our attention. Thus, it is important to know some common signs of this problem so that you can treat them properly without delay. Below are some symptoms that your dog might exhibit if his toe is broken:

  • Bruising
  • Popping or grinding sounds of bone
  • Severe lameness
  • Inability or unwillingness to walk
  • Abnormal movement in the limb.
  • Whining
  • Pain
  • Swelling in the limb
  • Holding up the leg

When a serious trauma occurs, there would be other severe problems that might not be obvious such as organ injury or internal bleeding. In these cases, do not hesitate to bring your dog to the vet.

Types Of Fracture

There would be a change that a fractured toe, contingent on the severity and type, would be life-threatening. If the toe has an impact on a specific organ or causes a part of your dog’s body to bleed, the complication would develop quickly. In general, broken bones in dogs could be classified into 3 main types:

Complete or incomplete fracture

This case means that the fracture has broken through the circumference of your dog’s bone (complete), or partway around his bone (incomplete).

Comminuted, oblique, or transverse

This is actually a complete fracture that would be describe as comminuted (broken in 3 or more pieces), oblique (across the bones diagonally), or transverse (straight across the bones).

Closed or open fracture

Simply said, if there is no clear wound in the skin of your dog, it is closed. Otherwise, the fracture is open.

How To Bandage A Broken Toe In Dogs

In most situations, a broken toe in dogs should be checked by a vet who may wrap it and probably splint it when the pet is heavy and large. If his leg or foot is bandaged too tightly, it would cut off the circulation of blood and lead to a dead toe. Below are 5 simple steps to bandage your dog’s broken toe:

- Step 1: Even though your dog is always loving and kind, the first thing to do is muzzling him to prevent him from biting when he is in pain. To do this, put the dog on his side with the fractured leg on the top. Get a helping hand from your friend to restrain the pet while you raise as well as support his injured leg during the task.

- Step 2: Remove the current bandage gently if you want to do a rewrap. Keep in mind to check whether there is any infection, hair, or dirt in case the fractured also contains an open wound. After that, use wet cotton wool to carefully clean any pus or blood and bring your pet to the veterinarian when there are any signs of infection.

- Step 3: If the fractured toe seems weight-bearing, you should put several strips of cotton wool gently between your dog’s toes. Then, wrap the cotton wool around his leg and paw starting at the bottom. As you move upward, remember to unroll it. For larger breeds, make sure that it is wrapped higher than the middle joint, while smaller breeds could be wrapped lower.

- Step 4: Starting at the foot of your dog and working up, wrap the gauze which is bandaged over the cotton wool. Make sure not to wrap too tightly to avoid restricting the circulation of blood, which could result in permanent damage. When you have finished, use scissors to cut the bandage. The leg and foot of your dog should be protected and well-cushioned.

- Step 5: Starting from the foot upward, wrap a water-resistant bandage over the current one. Do not wrap it too tightly. You should finish at the back of your dog’s leg and then cut it with a scissors. The last thing to do is wrapping the medical tape around the bottom and top of the bandaged toe to keep it in place.

Preventive measures

Most types of accidents are, of course, unavoidable. However, you can take some simple steps to ensure the safety and reduce the risks of happening.

  • Avoid possible vehicle accidents by placing your pet in a yard with fence.
  • While walking your dog in public places, make sure to keep him on a leash.
  • Keep your dog stay away from door or heights that could catch little paws.
  • Be careful with unfamiliar neighborhood pets that might be unfriendly.

How Much Money To Treat A Dog’s Broken Toe

When it comes to money or cost, the answer is always different, depending on various concerning things. And in this case, the decisive factor is probably the form of fracture involved.

Generally speaking, a veterinarian visit might cost you approximately from 50 to 80 USD. An X-ray usually costs from 40 to 125 USD, while addition X-rays might range from 25 to 80 USD. In some cases, tow X-rays are required to check the extent of the fractured toe. If your dog needs pain sedatives or meds, the cost of X-rays will be often on the higher side.

So how about the cost of splinting a broken toe or surgery? In general, the average charge often ranges from 55 to 75 USD for a splinting task. However, this number would escalate up to 1000 USD if a surgical repair is required.

To sum up, the veterinary cost tends to be pretty expensive as a norm. Therefore, many dog owners often choose to enroll their dog in pet insurance to avoid any unexpected surprises.


Hello, friends! I am Jennifer, a 30-year-old adventure-seeking dog lover. If you are a dog lover, puppy owner or a person who want to read interesting stories about pets, then is definitely a perfect choice.

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