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A dog can have on average 319 bones, an adult cat has 230 and this compares to 206 in humans. The numbers of bones will vary as some bones fuse together as the animal grows. Bones not only provide shape, leverage, support and protection but they also have many other important roles like storage of elements like phosphorus and calcium, production of blood cells, sound processing in the ears, regulation of PH levels and other functions

Although the number of bones in a small toy breed to a Great Dane is the same, the size and shape are very different. The biggest difference is the bones of the skull. A dogs shoulder blades are not tightly connected to the skeleton so they have greater flexibility and motion.

Bones are different types, shapes and lengths. Some are more easily damaged than others but all are at risk of fractures.

Fractures can occur if a pet has suffered a severe traumatic injury but fractures can also occur with relatively minor incidents. Severe injuries include motor vehicle accidents, a fall from a height, or a fight with another animal. A common bone to fracture is the leg.

In small breed dogs, simply jumping from a person’s arms or a piece of furniture may lead to a fracture.

Fractures can only be confirmed at a vet by an x-ray so if you suspect a fracture in an animal, you need to get them to the vets for further investigation.

Fractures are always very painful and if a “long bone” is affected, which are the upper and lower front and hind limbs, there will be severe lameness and your pet will not bear any weight on the limb. The signs will also be swelling, deformity but the signs may also be hidden.

Most fractures indicate a great deal of force was applied to the bone and other less noticeable injuries may also be present. Make sure you check your pet’s vital signs and assess for other injuries or shock.

A pet with a suspected fracture should be assessed by a vet as soon as possible and care should be taken during transport to minimise further.

If a fracture is “open,” meaning there is bone exposure, the wound should be carefully cleaned and covered as described and the animal should be promptly transported to a vet. Small pets should be placed in a carrier, cage or other supportive structure.

Larger animals may require extra hands for safe transport, but towels and blankets may work as a temporary sling to support your dog’s weight if needed. The use of a car parcel shelf or the floor mats from a car makes good supporting stretchers. Bubble wrap can also be used in some circumstances.