Bella’s First Vet Visit for a Broken Leg

Posted on August 11, 2014

Yes, it is true.  Bella’s first week here at home was fun.  She fit right into the family. Luke and Rusty were a bit overwhelmed by how “Miss No-Fear Bella” quickly made herself comfortable.  Rusty, true to his nature, opened his heart and by the second day, it was common to see the two of them sleeping together.  Luke was, for want of a better word, flabbergasted.  Bella moves like greased lightning and with her cute little “rufff”, one second she seemed to be in front of Luke and the next, she was chasing his tail.  Luke’s good nature was evident in that his means of escape was to jump upon the couch and then look down at her in wonder.  By Bella’s fourth day here, it was not unusual to find all three of them sacked out within touching distance of each other.

I had been using a puppy chow dog food for Bella and she had also been sneaking out nuggets of another brand from Luke’s food bowl.  On the evening of the fourth day, I noticed that she had some loose stools with a bit of fresh bloody mucus.  In this home that is all it takes to get a quick trip to the after hours Vet.  I was really happy to meet a wonderful doctor there who diagnosed Bella with having an irritated colon.  Bella’s system didn’t like the current brand of puppy food and the brand of dog food she had been nibbling from Luke’s bowl.  The doctor suggested changing foods, gave Bella some tummy meds and we were good to go.  As I was thanking the Veterinarian, it dawned upon both of us that we had met before.  He had treated our Australian Shepherd, Buddy, when Buddy had experienced a seizure.  That had been a few years back.  Buddy had only had the one seizure and lived out the rest of his life as a happy member of our family.  Buddy, at age 12, passed away in 2011 from cancer.  It was great to know that Bella’s doctor had taken care of Buddy.  Having a doctor who has great experience and longevity at our animal hospital’s after hours clinic really made me feel comfortable.  Little did I know how comfortable I was getting ready to be with that fact.

On the way home that night, I stopped by Pet Smart and made a trip down through the dog food section, picking up a big bag of Science Diet Dry Food for Puppies [ large bites],  a big bag of Science Diet Dry Adult [1-6 years] Dog Food and a big bag of Science Diet Dry Adult [7+ years] Dog Food.  Since starting the new dog food and taking her probiotics and other meds, Bella is back on track and her stools look great.  As for house-breaking, we are 75% there.  I have been setting my IPad clock and getting up every 2 1/2 hours to take her out.  Bella has her “Kid Rock” bed on top of my bed and it is going well.  We are now into the start of our third week and if Bella makes a mistake now, it is our fault for not taking her out.  Having the two older dogs to follow in going to the bathroom has been some help.  I have trained each dog to understand “pee” and “poop”.  When we travel with Luke and Rusty, the last thing I want to try and do is to get them to know that when we stop, they need to go potty.  They are not children who can tell you 10 miles from the last rest stop, “Mommy, I gotta go potty NOW!”  Bella has caught onto the language very well and had the “pee” command down-pat by the time that she broke her right back leg Tibia bone.

Before I tell you about how Bella broke her leg, let me say that we are experienced in handling both puppies and grandchildren.  Up until Bella broke her leg, we had never had a young puppy injured in any way.  I contribute that fact to our being careful and watching out for our pups and a touch of plain luck.   Then along came my new leather Lazy Boy recliner.  On Friday, August 1st, Bella and I were sitting together and in the time it takes to draw a breath, she had slipped off of the recliner and caught her right back leg in the lever of the recliner.  She yelped in pain and I screamed and grabbed her.  Mark was stunned.  I was comforting Bella and she was letting me touch her little leg.  I could not feel a break, but couldn’t be sure.  Bella had calmed down to an occasional whimper.  It was tempting to just wait and see if her leg would be okay.  That thought only lasted long enough for me to get my purse, Bella and my car keys.  Off to the After Hours Clinic we went.

I arrived to find a Dr. Lanza working that evening and thankfully, the clinic was not busy.  We were quickly taken back and the doctor examined Bella and then took her into the back hospital area to give her a more thorough palpation.  I sat in the exam room and prayed that Bella’s leg would be okay.  She was so sweet and it had been such a quick, freak accident.  It happened so quickly that there wasn’t anything to second guess.  Her fur, leather chair, zip and done.  In a few minutes the doctor returned.  She didn’t think that Bella had broken her leg.  Bella was letting her leg down and didn’t whimper when the leg was being palpated by her.  I was offered two options.  Take some pain meds home and watch Bella to see how she did or, take two x-rays at a cost of $170 to make sure there was no break.  For me, there was only one choice to be made and that was for the x-ray confirmation as to break or strain.

Dr. Lanza gave Bella a small shot of pain med so that she could put Bella’s leg in a good position for the x-rays.  In about 15 minutes, she came back with some startling news.  Bella, indeed, had broken her right tibia and it was a twist/snap fracture.  Thankfully, as we both looked at the x-rays, no growth bone areas had been affected.  Dr. Lanza said that I had one tough little lady there in Bella.  She said that she had seen quite a few of these types of fractures in other pups and even adult dogs.  It was almost impossible to even examine them without sedating them.   I was happy that we had discovered the break and Dr. Lanza had taken Bella back to the hospital area and had given her a bit more pain medicine sot that she could properly place a cast on Bella’s right back leg.  Left alone with my own thoughts, I was in tears. How could this happen to Bella?  I was so careful but still, it happened while I was holding her.   Little Bella,  patiently sitting there and letting us adults handle her leg trying to figure out if she had broken it.   In the midst of my mental self beat-down, Dr. Lanza returned and there was Bella cradled in her arms.  She brought my little sweetheart back to me wearing a yellow and orange taped cast, a bottle of NSAIDs and some liquid pain medicine.  I thanked this wonderful doctor and together, Bella and I headed home.  As I am writing this nine days later, I can still remember how it all seemed to be unreal, but the pain of the recall of that night still makes me know it was as real as it can get.

Bella came home and for us, it has been a time of learning just how special this little girl is in adapting to change.  I make sure that she gets both of her NSAIDs each day and I added some soft canned food to her diet.  I also added a little extra water in the form of unsalted beef broth.  Pain medicine can cause constipation in both humans and animals so preventive care is better than trying to break up a solid stool by using laxatives.  She gets routine time outs in her little crate which is in our living room.  She still is sleeping with me and now, she wakes me up to go out to potty.  We average about 3-4  hours of sleep now between trips.  I try to go to bed around midnight and that makes it easier for the both of us.  Bella’s stools are just right for her now, a little soft but with form.  She drinks water and along with the extra fluids given in her food, I see no chance in her having a bout with constipation.

So far we have had one scheduled cast change and one requested cast change by me.  The aide who had placed Bella’s cast on this past Monday had managed to catch a few of her private part hairs in the cast tape.  As a result, I happened to catch her trying to pee and the flashlight shown on the water as it was running part onto the grass and the rest into and on her cast.   After seeing that, I called that morning and they set a time for me to come in for a new cast to be placed on Bella’s leg.  Before I left to get that cast change I clipped all of her little hair along her back legs and private parts so that it would not be grabbed by the tape.  There was also a place on her leg where skin had been pinched in the adhesive tape.  I clipped that loose before we left as well.  Since this was a regular day appointment, one of the doctors that was there came back to talk about Bella and her cast.  My comments about Bella and her problem cast were dismissed by a smart, “how many puppies have you treated that have had broken legs?”  I got a “more your fault than ours” lecture from him and he left to put a replacement cast on Bella.  I listened and did not hear Bella make any crying noises.   Mr. Doctor returned and had a bare bones cast on Bella’s leg.  No colored tape or designs, no little frills from him for our Bella.  For those of you who are wondering about this, the answer is “Yes”, this doctor is now listed as one NOT to see or treat Bella for routine office visits.

As of this posting tonight, Bella is doing fine.  Her little leg is looking good and I am making sure that she gets some exercise and plenty of rest.  Both Luke and Rusty have bonded to Bella like crazy glue does to your finger.  Luke lies stretched out on the floor with Bella and they play “touch paws”.  It is fun to watch how Luke plays and looks after Bella.  Rusty is her cuddle buddy when she wants to nap with the big dogs.  She does get about 6 hours total crate time per day. Usually it is in 2 hour time periods.  She has not let this slow down her natural puppy energy so I have had to be her braking system back-up.  I don’t have to set a clock anymore at night for potty breaks for she now wakes me up.  That makes it easier.  She pees on command, knows her name and will come when called.  When we are outside, she is either within 3 feet of where I am or she is on her lead.  Mark put a sterling silver Harley-Davidson bell on her little pink harness.  It tinkles with each little movement.  It looks really good with her souped-up royal purple cast gauze and waterproof foot boot.  You know I just couldn’t let la mia Bella have that “no frills” cast. She’s not too impressed with the boot but she only wears the waterproof boot when she goes outside to potty.

I’ll be posting another “Bella Update” soon.  If you have any questions, using the email form on my home page, email me here and I will do my best to answer your email.





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