May be used on your pet for any or all of the following reasons: to reduce pain, reduce swelling, mechanically protect from stresses which may compromise a surgery’s success or protect against licking and exposure to the environment. They have an important role and attention to their care will minimise the chance of problems.
Unless advised otherwise, pets which have had a limb cast, splint or bandaged should be strictly confined to prevent problems. They should not be allowed to run, jump, play etc. It is usually best to provide a clean, dry secure area in which they are securely confined during most of the day and night (e.g., bathroom or laundry). There should be nothing in the area that they may climb or jump onto. Many dogs and most cats will require a cage for safe confinement. The vast majority of pets are perfectly happy being confined for the period of their convalescence. Certainly, when no-one is home this is especially important. It is best not to let them have the run of the house, even when people are home, as most pets will still jump up onto furniture or run to see who is at the door etc. Cats love nothing better than to climb up to “vantage points” in the house. When being taken outside for any reason dogs should be on a leash the whole time.
Any time a dressing of any kind is placed on a pet’s leg or body, it requires we adjust the way we treat the pet to prevent problems arising. For example, access to water bowls may need to be supervised.
Never allow the dressing/cast to become wet. This is the biggest single cause of problems. Sources of moisture are wet grass, water bowls, saliva, urine etc. Wetness may cause serious problems within a few days, as bacteria begin to multiply in the dressing and on the skin. You can use a plastic bag over the dressing whenever pets go outside, but never leave it on for longer than 30 minutes. If a dressing/cast gets slightly wet, try carefully drying it with a hair dryer (depending on your pet’s temperament!) while being very careful not to overheat the skin beneath. If it has gotten too wet, it is best to return here to have a completely new clean dressing/cast applied.
Touch or squeeze the toes once or twice a day. Check for warmth, dryness and feeling. This is especially important for casts, which will not expand if the foot or leg should swell. Pick a time when the pet’s attention is distracted and touch or squeeze the toes in the dressing/cast. The normal response is for the pet to look at you or pull the leg back a little. If there is no response, try squeezing harder. If there is no feeling in the toes, the attention of a veterinarian should be sought immediately! Similarly, the toes should be looked at each day to see if there are any signs of swelling. Toes that are swollen indicate an underlying problem – seek advice – never cut off the bottom of a dressing/cast as any swelling is likely to worsen.
Keep an old clean sock over the dressing/cast. Socks keep a lot of dirt off while still allowing the dressing to “breathe”. Many dogs stop licking a dressing when a sock is placed over it. Don’t use waterproof / electrical / duct tape or plastic as a cover as they don’t allow the dressing to “breathe”.
Watch for irritations at the top of the dressing/cast. This may be caused by an allergic reaction to the sticky plaster, licking at the bandage, or a dressing which is rubbing. Call for advice if you notice this problem. With care, soft dressings will usually last for about 2 weeks, and casts should last for 6 to 8 weeks or more. Please note when your pet’s dressing needs to be changed or removed and arrange an appointment for this to be done. Sometimes, it’s best to drop your pet off early in the morning, then pick them up that evening.
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