The most common and practical form of first aid care your dog is likely to need from you is simple bandaging. (Cat’s on the other hand, are almost impossible to bandage. Don’t try. Leave it to us.) Bandages keep wounds dry and protect them from further injuries including self inflicted damage caused by biting, chewing and excessive licking. They keep injuries from becoming more contaminated and absorb seeping fluids. Bandaging provides constant mild pressure to control pain or bleeding and prevents pockets of serum building up under the skin. A bandage consists of three layers, an absorbent pad, gauze and adhesive tape. The absorbent pad is in contact with the wound. Gauze and adhesive tape protect and support the area.
- Sterile non stick pads are best but in emergencies use any clean dirt- free absorbent material as a pad. Face clothes and cotton towels are good absorbers. Paper products are not as good. They are difficult to remove later from the wound. If only paper products such as facial or toilet tissue or kitchen roll are available, apply water soluble (KY) jelly to the wound before applying the pad. Use antiseptic cream, lotion or spray when available.
- Gauze, wrapped not too tightly around the absorbent pad, secures the pad to the injury. Most types of good gauze gently stretch. Do not stretch gauze tightly when wrapping an injury. This cuts blood circulation to the area.
- Adhesive tape secures the gauze wrapping and absorbent pad to the injured part of the dog’s body. It should be secure enough that the dog cannot chew it off but not so tight that it cuts the circulation of blood to the region. Many adhesive tapes are elastic. Take extra care when using elastic adhesive bandage. Wounds often swell. An apparently well applied bandage might cut circulation a few hours later.
General Bandage Technique
- After cleaning and disinfecting a wound place the absorbent pad over the affected area.
- Starting over one edge of the pad, wrap gauze around so that the pad does not slip from its desired area. The first wrap secures the pad. Each wrap covers about one third of the previous wrap. Continue until the entire pad is covered, together with undamaged tissue on either side.
- Holding the end of the gauze with one hand to prevent unraveling, apply the first wrap of stretchy adhesive tape at that point. Continue wrapping, extending the stretchy tape beyond both ends of the gauze. Catching hair in the stretchy bandage prevents the bandage from slipping. Place two fingers under the bandage as you wrap, then remove them and continue wrapping, using the same pressure. This prevents you applying the adhesive tape too tightly.
- Keep the bandage dry. Cover it temporarily in a plastic bag when your dog goes outdoors.
- Unless we tell you otherwise, change bandages daily.
- Keep your dog quiet and restrict exercise until healing has been completed and the bandage removed.
BANDAGES CAN BE DANGEROUS
- DO NOT LET BANDAGES GET WET.
- DO NOT LEAVE A BANDAGE ON FOR ANY EXCESSIVE PERIOD OF TIME. TO DO SO INCREASES THE RISK OF INFECTION OR TISSUE DEATH FROM POOR CIRCULATION.
- BANDAGED WOUNDS ARE HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO INFECTION. IF A WOUND BECOMES SWOLLEN OR DISCHARGES PUS, SEE YOUR VET THE SAME DAY.
- GET IMMEDIATE ATTENTION FROM US IF THERE IS AN UNPLEASANT SMELL COMING FROM THE BANDAGED WOUND.
- DO NOT LET YOUR DOG EXERCISE FREELY WHILE A WOUND IS BANDAGED.
- DO NOT LET YOUR DOG CHEW AT A BANDAGE. IF YOUR DOG CHEWS ITS BANDAGE WE CAN PROVIDE A PLASTIC “ELIZABETHAN” COLLAR OR NECK BRACE FOR IT TO WEAR UNTIL THE BANDAGE IS REMOVED.