Bandages, Casts and Splints 

The purposes of a bandage are to keep an injured area clean, protect it from abrasion and injury or licking by the animal, and keep antiseptic ointment in contact with the wound. Bandages also can be used to prevent excess movement, which can slow healing. 

Bandages can cause problems if not handled properly. Many dogs and cats have had to have their legs amputated from improper care of a splint, cast or bandage but with diligent care they are very safe. If they are allowed to get wet they can cause problems with infection and even healthy skin can become injured by constant contact with a wet bandage. If the bandage, cast or splint gets wet from water or urine, use a blow dryer immediately to dry it out and have your veterinarian evaluate the bandage immediately. If the dampness wicks through to the skin severe skin infections can occur it can spread rapidly under the bandage. Most of the time, if a bandage gets wet, it will need to be removed and replaced. 

If the injured area swells after application of a snug bandage circulation may be cut off and swelling may become more severe. If this happens the bandage should be loosened and your pet should be returned to the veterinarian immediately. 

If the bandage is on the head and neck area, the animal must be observed for ability to breathe and swallow. 

If your pet won’t leave a bandage alone and is chewing on it or removing it there are some sprays that can be used on the bandage that tastes bad. If this doesn’t work a special plastic “Elizabethan collar” may be necessary. 

If the top of the bandage “slips” down (not uncommon in rear full leg bandages) please see your veterinarian immediately as it can cut into the skin or cut off circulation and cause serious damage. If you cannot get in to see your veterinarian within a few hours, please remove the bandage yourself and keep your pet confined until a doctor can evaluate whether or not the bandage needs to be replaced. 

Splints and Casts 

Care of a splint or cast is very similar to that of a bandage except that they can cause even more serious complications. Obviously the purpose of a splint or cast is to hold a limb immobile so a fracture or serious injury can heal. We like to avoid changing them too often to prevent unnecessary movement. Because of this you must be very observant of the condition of the splint or cast. It should be changed or examined if it gets wet, seems loose or gets chewed up. If your pet seems to be becoming progressively painful (i.e., limping or acting like it is bothering him/ her excessively) the splint or cast should be checked by a veterinarian. 

Because of the rigid nature of the splint or cast, it is possible for pressure areas to become very ulcerated in spite of padding. This can happen quickly and the leg must be examined daily for 

drainage leaking through and the skin around the top getting raw, and foul odors which may be signs of infection and swelling. Deep ulcerations can form very quickly over the boney prominences of the hock or carpus despite our best efforts at padding these areas properly as pets cannot tell us when something is rubbing or painful 

If you suspect there may be a problem please bring the animal in and have it checked! Improper care can result in a permanently damaged limb or even amputation in especially severe cases!