Hit By a Car, Dog Gets Back on Four Paws with Help from Shelter’s Vet Team

After being hit by a car, a little stray terrier was taken to the San Jose Animal Care Center. When she arrived, she was unable to use her left hind leg. The veterinary team suspected she may have broken her femur or hip, so the team proceeded to start the terrier on strong pain medications to help make her comfortable during her stay at the shelter.

After a few days passed without an owner coming in to claim her, the veterinary team took x-rays of the terrier’s pelvis and femur to assess her leg and determine what her options were for treatment.

Hit By a Car, Dog Gets Back on Four Paws with Help from Shelter's Vet Team

X-rays of the dog’s hips and femurs showed a fractured left femoral head. (Left side is on right in image.)

The x-rays showed that the terrier had a fracture on the left femoral head. It was likely that the fracture itself would heal, but given the location of the fracture, the terrier would be at higher risk for developing arthritis as a result, which would likely warrant a Femoral Head Osteotomy (a.k.a. FHO) in the future.

An FHO surgery involves completely removing the femoral head. By doing so, the pain and irritation that might be present from bone rubbing on bone is eliminated, and the area around the hip joint can scar over to protect it. The leg is saved from amputation and is still able to be used because the muscles and nerves that control the leg’s movement are still intact. In the end, animals with FHOs may return to normal function, and you may never be able to tell that they had the procedure. The key to a good prognosis is getting the animal to start using that leg as soon as possible.

Instead of waiting and having the little terrier endure the development of arthritis along with having an adopter incur the cost of an orthopedic surgery, Dr. Ostermann performed an FHO on the terrier at the San Jose animal shelter.

Hit By a Car, Dog Gets Back on Four Paws with Help from Shelter's Vet Team

The dog’s broken femoral head, removed with surgery (FHO).

The broken femoral head was removed, and the terrier woke up from surgery on a warm bed. She started to use her injured leg almost immediately!

Hit By a Car, Dog Gets Back on Four Paws with Help from Shelter's Vet Team

Waking up on a warm bed after FHO surgery.

Later that evening, the terrier was taken home by Dr. Tyson and was kept on IV pain medications overnight.

Hit By a Car, Dog Gets Back on Four Paws with Help from Shelter's Vet Team

After FHO surgery, she is back on four paws again!

When the little terrier returned to the shelter the next day, she was walking well and continued to heal from her surgery. The veterinary nurses had her do some physical therapy to help her regain function and increase her range of motion in her leg . After the terrier had healed, she was placed up for adoption and quickly found a forever home.

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