Waylon is our June patient of the month. She was riding in the back of a pick up truck when she fell/jumped out and shattered her femur. Although the vehicle was not traveling very fast, it was enough to cause some serious damage. Broken bones such as the femur or the humerus can actually be life threatening in some cases. Blood loss from lacerated blood vessels and bleeding from the medullary canal (the blood-rich bone marrow) can cause enough bleeding that an animal may die from that.
Luckily Waylon’s Mom is a former veterinary technician, so she recognized the signs of blood loss – altered mental state, pale gums, rapid breathing and heart rate – and got her into help right away. Waylon’s PCV or packed cell volume – a number that represents how many red blood cells are in the blood – dropped down to 26%. A normal PCV for a dog her breed and size would be about 50%. Waylon required a blood transfusion.
Once she was stable, the attention turned to her broken bone. The break was so severe that the leg needed to be amputated. Waylon had surgery to remove the injured limb. Following surgery she was able to walk great on three legs and continues to do very well. She is a hunting dog and will still be able to enjoy that job on three limbs.
Waylon’s story is an important reminder that any dog – no matter how many times they have ridden in the truck bed before – can fall or jump out of the back of a truck. We have even seen broken bones from vehicles traveling <10 mph. If at all possible, keep your dog in the cab. If that isn’t an option, keep your dog in a kennel that is strapped into the bed of the truck. Avoid having your dog loose in the back of the cab and attached by a leash – that could cause some very serious and obvious injuries as well. Each year we see several cases – some of them fatal- that involve accidents like this. We love that Bozeman is a town in which dogs are part of the family and go everywhere with the family – but it is so important to make sure they are safely secured while traveling!