Basic Bandage Care for Dogs
Bandages are routinely applied to dogs for a multitude of reasons. The primary uses are to protect, treat or support an injured area on the body. This article will outline the issues involved in general bandage care as well as problems that can occur.
General Bandage Care for Dogs
General care should include the following:
1. Keep it dry. It is very important to keep this bandage clean and dry during the time that it is in place. For this reason the patient should remain indoors and confined. If a pet is able to go outside to go to the bathroom, a plastic bag or trash can liner must be placed over the foot, covering the length of the bandage. Empty bread bags often work well for covering leg bandages. This should be done even if the ground appears to be dry because many pets may accidentally urinate on their large, bulky bandage (which would require changing the bandage). You should check the bandage twice daily to ensure that it is clean and dry. Also check for discharge or any foul odor. Report either to your veterinarian immediately.
2. Check the position. Is the bandage still in the right spot? When you pick your pet up from the veterinary hospital with the bandage, look closely at the position and location of the bandage. Notice how many toes are sticking out and their general size. Bandages can slip down or move. This is especially true on a leg or abdomen, which are usually bigger on one end and narrower at the other. The top of the bandage, particularly in straight-legged dogs, may have a tendency to “telescope” down the leg. This can cause the material to bunch up and abrade the limb. If this occurs, or chaffing or rubbing occurs for other reasons, the bandage should be changed.
3. Is it too tight or too loose? If it is a leg bandage, notice how the toes appear at the bottom of the bandage. These should be assessed twice daily for swelling, sweating or pain. Check the toes or area before and after the bandage for any indication of redness, skin chaffing, discharge or swelling.
4. Prevent chewing. Sometimes a pet may be bothered by the presence of a bandage. This could be due to problems at the site of the underlying injury. Elizabethan collars can help if your pet simply resents having his limb or toes confined. However, excessive chewing or licking should not be overlooked and veterinary advice should be sought if you are worried.
When You Should Call or See Your Vet
- If you notice swelling above or below the bandage
- Your dog is chewing on the bandage
- The bandage is wet
- You notice bleeding or discharge above, below or through the bandage
- For scheduled bandage changes