Broken Bones and Fractures in Prairie Dogs


PetMD Editorial

Published Sep. 14, 2010

Fractures or broken bones are commonly encountered in prairie dogs, often due to an accidental fall. Fighting is another cause for fractures, especially among male prairie dogs during mating season. Improper diet with vitamin and mineral imbalances like calcium deficiency may also cause fractures in prairie dogs.

There is a good chance a prairie dog’s fracture heals, requiring at least three to six weeks, but it is imperative that the prairie dog be properly restrained and given adequate to rest during this period. Left unrestrained, the animal may chew off its bandages, cats or splints, which may make the condition worse and leave the veterinarian no other recourse but amputation.


The prairie dog suffering from a fracture will exhibit severe pain. It will refuse to move the affected part and resist manipulation of the area. There may be swelling and a crepitating sound may be heard when the fractured area is manipulated due to rubbing between the broken ends of the bone. Very rarely, an open wound may be present on the skin through which the broken end of the bone may pierce out.


  • An accidental fall or drop from a great height
  • Fighting between prairie dogs
  • Improper diet or vitamin and mineral imbalances, such as calcium deficiency
  • Old age, which may make the bones brittle and increases the chances of fracturing, especially pelvic bones


After observing the prairie dog's clinical symptoms, your veterinarian will want to confirm the diagnosis by taking an X-ray of the affected area.


Seek immediate veterinary aid if you find that your prairie dog is in pain and is unable to move a body part. In some cases, your veterinarian may try to reduce the fracture and apply some restraining bandage to the affected area in order restrain movement and encourage healing. A wound, if present, will be suitably dressed; topical antiseptics or antibiotics will then be applied. If your prairie dog is in pain, your veterinarian may administer painkillers. He or she may also recommend prescribing vitamin and mineral supplements to encourage a quick recovery.

Living and Management

Fractures require at least three to six weeks for healing. Restrict the movement of the prairie dog by placing it in a cage or a small enclosure. Give the prairie dog good rest and feed it a well-balanced, nutritious diet and any oral supplements recommended by your veterinarian.


Ensuring that the diet of your pet prairie dog is nutritionally well balanced is best way to prevent fractures occurring due to weak bones as a result of nutritional disorders.

Featured Image: Vasilkovs

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