Bandage and Splint Care for Your Pet
At some point in time, your four-legged family member may need to have a bandage or splint placed by your vet. Although a bandage or splint may seem like a simple form of therapy, proper at-home care is extremely important for a positive outcome. Keep reading for more information and expert tips on caring for your dog or cat’s bandage at home.
Why does my pet need a bandage or splint?
There are several medical issues that may require the use of a splint or bandage:
- Keeps wounds clean and allows them to heal
- Absorption of fluids
- Aids in preventing blood loss
- Elimination of infection
- Protection of a surgical site
- Stabilization of a fracture (broken bone)
How are splints and bandages different?
There are many types of bandages. Most have multiple layers of soft materials such as gauze, cast padding, tape, and vet wrap. Splints and bandages both provide protection to body parts (usually a limb). The main difference between a bandage and a splint is that, in addition to soft material, a splint typically includes a firm support customized to the size and shape of the patient. Splints may be used for immobilization or to provide support. They are made from metal, plastic, or fiberglass.
Although placing a bandage on your pet at home may seem like a good idea, it’s best to leave this job to your vet. Placing a bandage requires both technical skill and the correct materials. In an emergency situation, if your pet is bleeding, put pressure on the wound using some type of covering (washcloth, towel, clothing, even newspaper) while transporting him to the vet. If you feel that your pet may have a broken bone, place him in a quiet area or into a box or carrier and seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Guidelines for Caring for Bandages and Splints at Home
Most importantly, always follow the instructions of your vet, including follow-up care/recheck appointments.
Examine the bandage at least twice a day:
- Monitor that it has not slipped from the original position.
- Prevent your pet from chewing the bandage. An e-collar is the best way to do this.
- Look for excessive wearing. Don’t allow your pet to be too active, especially on rough surfaces, such as the sidewalk.
- Note any increase in discomfort.
- Make sure the bandage is not soiled with urine, feces, or dirt.
- Place a cover over the bandage when taking your pet outside.
- Feel the bandage to ensure it’s not wet. A bath is not a good idea when a bandage or splint is in place.
- Notice if there is an odor, discharge, or blood present.
- Monitor tissues above and below the bandage for swelling or discoloration.
If any of these signs are present, see your vet as soon as possible. A splint/bandage change may be necessary. Delaying examination may lead to infection, wounds, fracture instability, or even loss of a limb.
Pet First Aid: How to Treat Minor Wounds
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet’s bandage, wound, or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.