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Ask the Veterinarian/correct management of broken hock


My 7 year old dog broke his hock before xmas 2013.  The day after boxing day he was x-rayed and has been in a splint and bandage ever since.  From the x-ray a suspicious area around the fracture was noted so the fluid around the fracture was tested and I was told it was not cancer but was not really told what it was.  The vet has been seeing my dog weekly since then changing his bandage and feeling to see if leg has stabilized.  Every week I have been told it is improving but it is slow probably due to his age.  Two weeks ago my dog was seen by the vet who had put in the diary ?x-ray if not improving because it had now been 7 weeks since the last x-ray. However, when my dog was examined by the vet she said she was happy with the progress, didn't need to x-ray and re-bandaged the leg and said to see her again in 2 weeks.  1 week later my dog was not putting any weight on his bandaged broken leg even though he had been doing so previously, so I took him back to the vet a week early.  This time I saw a different vet, when she examined his leg she said it wasn't healing at all.  This was a Saturday, so she said to come back on the Monday so she could x-ray his leg.  By the Monday my dog had gone down hill rapidly, it was eventually found that he had streptococcous septicemia and basically nearly died.  He managed to pull through but now because his bone has weakened it may not be repairable and may need amputation.  Only time will tell. He now has to take antibiotics for six weeks and then they can try and repair or amputate the leg.  In a week my vet fees have risen to 2700 and I don't have any pet insurance.  By the time we do the operation etc.  I could be looking at 5000-6000 in vet fees.  I am a Midwife and have some medical knowledge, obviously not in animals, but my feelings are that how could one vet say the fracture is healing and she is happy with the progress and a week later another vet says the bone is not healing at all.  I believe that if the first vet managed the problem correctly then the septicemia might have been avoided.  If the x-ray had been carried out after seven weeks when it was penciled in her diary ?x-ray if not healing, then perhaps the infection might have been seen on the x-ray in its early stages and just a course of antibiotics might of been suffice.  Instead my dog was hospitalised for 6 days and therefore incurred all these vet fees aswell as my dog nearly losing his life.  I don't know whether or not to make a complaint to the vet.  Please can you give me your views regarding this matter.

Hi Lynette,
This is really a tough one. It's hard to say if the lack of healing was due to this infection which he apparently had from the start, or due to age, but we have seen plenty of older dogs heal a broken bone in 6-8 weeks time.

My suspicions are that the hock had an infection (possibly from the origin of the break)from the get-go which wasn't caught and contributed to the lack of healing and the infection he got later. Any infection left untreated is going to cause some major issues down the road. The infection would delay healing and could even weaken and eat away at the bone.

Your best bet here to is ask for a copy of your records, go over them with the vet that said the leg isn't healing and ask them how this can be resolved without legal action. Let them know that

(You can always consult a lawyer to ask about this. Over here in America most lawyers do a consult for free. Just the mention of lawyers to a vet (or Doctor)usually gets the ball rolling the correct way.)

If the break had been handled correctly (fluid aspirated and cultured, antibiotics given etc.) and the dog put on antibiotics to start, most of this might have been avoided. If the fluid was cultured properly this may have been prevented.

Since doesn't appear to be the case, I would have to say that you have good reason to lodge a complaint. You should go to the practice owner first and if you get some satisfaction, then see a lawyer if you don't, and possibly a new vet as well.

Good luck and I really hope that he doesn't lose his leg. Please let me know how it goes.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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