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Identifying fractures in dogs resulting from animal abuse

L. J. Tong

NON-accidental injury refers to traumatic injury caused by physical abuse, and the diagnosis of non-accidental injuries in companion animals can pose a challenge to veterinarians. Fractures are known to be common among non-accidental injuries in dogs. This pilot study aimed to compare the characteristics of both accidental and non-accidental fractures in dogs to try and identify common features that might be indicative of injuries caused by animal abuse.

A retrospective analysis of radiographs was carried out in a large veterinary hospital in the UK. The assessor was blinded to the cause of the fractures when the radiographs were first examined and described. Subsequently, using information from medical records, the injuries were classified into the following groups: non-accidental injury (n=19), road traffic accidents (n=66), falls from a height of over 2 m (n=7), falls from a height of under 2 m (n=17), being crushed (n=21), play (n=17) and dog attacks (n=7).

The mean number of fractures following non-accidental injury was significantly higher compared with the other categories. Fractures seen more often in the …

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