Stress fractures are small cracks in a bone caused by repetitive force.
It is typically an overuse injury though it can happen from normal use of a weakened bone.
Moose is a 3-year-old active Cocker Spaniel. She loves her outings in the countryside. Little Moose’s mom suspected that a fun walk could end up with an emergency trip to a veterinarian.
While running through the terrain, Moose looked as if she slipped. She yelped loudly, lifted her right paw in the air and continued yelping. It was clear that something happened to her leg.
Bone fractures are high on the list of suspects when the dog refuses to bear any weight on the affected leg. With serious breaks, a dog might not just yelp but literally scream in pain.
Moose’s mom had to carry her down the mountain for much of the way. Once they got on the level terrain, Moose hobbled the rest of the distance to the car. They went to a veterinarian immediately.
At the veterinarian
They made it to the clinic an hour later. Moose continued to refuse to put any weight on her injured leg. The pain seemed to have originated in Moose’s elbow. Did she injure the joint?
The veterinarian set her up for x-rays to see what was going on.
To the veterinarian’s surprise, the x-rays didn’t show any dramatic injury. There was, however, evidence of remodeling in one of the bones around Moose’s elbow. They consulted with a radiologist who asked if Moose was lame on that leg in the past. There was evidence of an old stress fracture.
Moose was lame on that leg a couple of years ago after playing football with some kids. The x-rays at that time didn’t show anything and Moose recovered fast. However, the damage weakened her bone setting it up for the present injury.
Moose recovered quickly this time as well but remains vulnerable to re-injury if she overloads the leg.
An acute lameness in dogs can have many causes and even a veterinarian can miss what really happened. X-rays are a helpful diagnostic tool but often it is a good idea to submit the images to a specialist.
Broken Bones in Dogs