Bandage Care Guidelines
By Dr. Karen Burgess
- Protect the bandage from self-mutilation, other pets, and the environment. It is not uncommon for pets to chew at bandages, whether it is their own or a housemate’s. Keeping an Elizabethean Collar (E-Collar) on at all times may be necessary to prevent self-destructive behavior. Limiting activity including play is also recommended. A pet with a bandage should never be allowed unsupervised around other pets or in the yard. Confinement in a crate or small room in an owner’s absence is recommended. When going outside the bandage should be protected from the elements by either wrapping with a plastic bag or using a protective cover specifically designed for bandages.
- Ensure the bandage stays dry. Wet bandages can harbor bacteria and lead to tissue damage. The padding used in bandages and casts is soft allowing a cushion effect but at the same time is very absorbent and any moisture will not dry due to diminished airflow. A wet bandage should be replaced immediately. Pets are often more clumsy with elimination while wearing a bandage or cast and may unintentionally soil themselves. When going outside the bandage should be protected from the elements by either wrapping with a plastic bag or using a protective cover specifically designed for bandages.
- Monitor tightness of bandage. Bandage material can be constrictive affecting blood flow to an area. In addition the loss of blood flow is often hidden by the bandage itself. Watch for any swelling, increase in pain, or sudden increase in chewing as signs of a possibly too tight bandage which should be evaluated immediately.
- Watch for bandage slippage. Take note of where a bandage or cast is positioned initially and watch for any signs of slippage.
- Do not attempt to modify a bandage at home. Safely applying a bandage or cast should only be done by trained professionals. It is very easy to cause damage with an improperly applied bandage often leading to more problems than a pet started with. Do not be tempted to cut, add tape to, or reapply a bandage at home.
Seek veterinary assistance immediately if a bandage is wet, slipping, has an odor, is causing swelling or increased pain, or in general appears to be malfunctioning.