First aid for broken bones

isolated cat dog and rabbit


  • Broken bones are extremely painful and require immediate veterinary attention.
  • If your pet has broken a bone, be very careful when moving them. They are likely to be in a lot of pain and may bite you if they are scared and hurting, use a muzzle to protect yourself.
  • Call your vet for advice immediately if you suspect your pet has a broken bone.

What to do if your pet has a broken bone

Step one: Check your pet

  • Check your pet for any other injuries.
  • Have they been hit by a car? If so, they could have internal injuries.
  • Do they have pale gums? Pale gums can mean they have lost blood, or that they are in shock
  • Do they have any wounds? If so, cover them with a clean bandage or cloth. Wounds around a broken bone can allow very serious infections to develop.
  • Are they bleeding? Control bleeding by applying light pressure.

Step two: Move them to a safe place

  • Avoid touching or moving their painful area.
  • Don’t allow them to walk if they have broken a leg.
  • Carry them using a flat surface such as a board if you suspect they have a spinal injury.

Step three: Call your vets

  • If your pet is unable to stand or walk, call your vet for an emergency appointment.
  • If your pet is able to walk, call your vet for further advice.
  • Do not give your pet anything to eat or drink until you have spoken to your vet.
Published March 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst