Patient Spotlight – Snow the Westie Pup

Snow the 4 month old Westie puppy

Snow was an active and excitable dog, as most 4 month old puppies are! One day when his owners arrived home they found him limping in the backyard, not placing any weight on his right hind leg. Worried, Snow’s owners brought him straight to our Hall branch for a consultation with Dr Jim Riach.

After a physical examination, Dr Jim recommended sedating Snow and taking some x-rays of his right hind leg as he was concerned about the possibility of a fracture.

Unfortunately Jim’s suspicions were correct; the x-rays showed that Snow had fractured the growth plate of his shin bone.  The growth plate is the area where the bone grows from and are weaker in puppies because they are actively growing, meaning that fractures in this area are more common in young puppies.  This type of fracture is called a ‘tibial crest avulsion fracture’. 

The image on the left shows the fracture (circled in red).  The image on the right is an x-ray of Snow’s left hind leg (not affected) for comparison.

Surgical repair is usually required to stabilize this kind of fracture, otherwise the quadriceps muscles continue to pull on the bone fragment and can move it out of place. 

The next day, Snow was transported here to Vets at Amaroo where Dr Vickie Saye performed the surgery. Surgery involved placement of 2 pins and figure of 8 tension band wires to hold the fractured bone in place.  The x-ray below is Snow’s leg after the surgery, which is taken to check the placement of the hardware.

X-ray of Snow’s right hind leg after surgery showing the hardware placed during surgery.

A stability bandage was placed and Snow was taken to recovery. Intravenous pain relief and TLC from our nurses ensured that he remained comfortable throughout the afternoon.

Snow the brave boy relaxing in recovery after his surgery.
Showing off his new bandage!

After a smooth recovery from surgery, Snow was taken to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services for overnight monitoring. On return to Vets at Amaroo the following day Dr Vickie was impressed to see how well little Snow was doing, even trying to run around on his freshly-operated-on leg! He was discharged home with his owners on strict rest (tricky, we know) and wearing his party hat (cone of shame) to ensure he wouldn’t remove his bandage on his own accord!

It is always a good idea to have any mobility concerns i.e. limps etc checked by a vet as soon as possible after you notice them, in some cases it may not be anything very serious but in other cases it can be a sign of a fracture or worse. Give us a call on 6230 2262 if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.