LuLu is a poodle/chihuahua cross female puppy, 12 weeks old, who presented as an emergency; very painful non-weight bearing on the right forelimb. If she looks a little fuzzy, well that is how she was feeling due to a sedative given to help her through the radiographic procedures. Her owner told me that she merely jumped from her arms to the floor, maybe 8 inches, and after an awkward landing she began to squeal, loudly. Poodles and Chihuahuas are both over-represented in the Vocal Dog Category. After the x-rays were taken we knew she had a fractured radius and ulna, and although we tried to splint the leg to give it support, it was obvious this was going to require surgery.
Not all fractures need surgery, but when the ends of the fractured bones can’t stay aligned when immobilization is employed, then surgery is necessary to keep those ends lined up until healing takes place.
I quickly made some phone calls to round up a surgeon who could plate this little puppy’s fracture as soon as possible, as she was in pain and would be until the fracture was stabilized. LuLu was a lucky girl and we managed to find that Dr. Trent Gall from Alpenglow in Boulder had a cancellation and was available the very next day. He came to our hospital, bringing with him all the surgical equipment, techs, plates and skills for the job. He plated the tiny bones with confident dexterity and I kept anesthesia and monitoring going while he worked. He is truly a gifted surgeon and I had every reason to believe that our adorable patient would soon be on the mend!
Post-surgical radiographs proved that the fracture was well stabilized, giving the bone ends a chance to heal. This would take about 8 weeks. In the beginning it was important to keep the puppy very quiet and also not allow her to chew on the bandage that was protecting the surgery site. In all cases this can be challenging, but when it is a youngster it is even more problematic, as they have puppy energy and need to play! The owners did a good job of restricting activity in the beginning, and as soon as we felt it safe, LuLu was allowed to run and play again with her plated leg being used normally. In fact, in cases like this, where the plate is almost bigger than the bones being plated, it is important to have the animal do some weight bearing on the limb. When there is not sufficient weight bearing on the bone itself, healing can be delayed. For LuLu, everything went well, and in a few weeks she was running and playing with the two other dogs at home: Sadie a large, beautiful white German Shepherd and Ruby, an adorable Pug.
I wish I could say that this was the last time I saw LuLu for anything but routine check ups, but that is not the case. You won’t believe what happened to her next.