Brutus & the perils of the driveway

Brutus the scar

Brutus is a nearly 2-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who loves to run up and down his driveway and chase cars. Unfortunately for him, it resulted in being run over at home.

Brutus was hit and got stuck under a family member’s car in November last year. He was stuck for around 15 minutes with his back pushed up against the exhaust. It appeared at the time his right front leg had been run over completely too. A trolley jack was needed to lift the car off Brutus to get him out.

He was rushed straight into our Waihi clinic after hours as soon as he was free. He was immediately given pain relief, and cold running water was used to cool the large burn on his back. Once he was more comfortable, x-rays were taken to assess the extent of his injuries. We took x-rays of his neck, his front legs, and his pelvis. The x-rays showed he had multiple fractures in his front right leg (through his Radius and Ulna).

He was stabilized over the weekend and transferred to our Franklin Vets Pukekohe Clinic early on Monday. He had orthopaedic surgery to repair the fractures and two plates were used to stabilize the broken bones. The challenges with Brutus’s injuries were related to his large size (meaning implants need to be strong enough to hold), the location of the fractures, and the presence of a very large burn area. Burns almost inevitably become infected, and this presents a significant risk of infection being transferred to the fracture site. For this reason, it was decided to attempt to remove the entire burned area of skin in one piece. This was a significant challenge given the large area of skin involved and required some creativity in closure. Two orthopaedic plates were placed to stabilize the fractured radius, the ulna being left to heal on its own. Fractures of the radius almost always require surgery to stabilize, casting is rarely a good option and in Brutus’s case would have failed.

After surgery, Brutus was put on strict cage rest and exercise restrictions to ensure his leg had the best chance to heal properly. This meant he had to be on a lead every time he went outside and spent most of his time inside his crate. One of the advantages of plating broken bones is that the patient is normally comfortable and able to walk on the limb very quickly after surgery. Weight-bearing is essential for bone healing, and early, controlled walking is critical to recovery. Over this period Brutus required a few extra smaller surgeries to treat some other areas of skin that had also been damaged during the accident.

6 weeks later x-rays were taken again to see how his leg was healing. We could see on the x-rays that the fracture was healing nicely, and new bone was being laid down across the fractures. Brutus was then allowed slowly to increase the amount of daily exercise and is happy now to be taken out for short walks. His skin wounds are all now healed, and aside from some impressive scars, he is back to his normal, happy, bouncy self.

Supervising dogs on your driveways or ensuring they cannot access them using fencing is the best way to prevent accidents like Brutus’s.

Dr Stephanie Fulton BVSc

Brutus versus car


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