It’s stressful for the entire family if your dog has a broken bone or a torn ligament/tendon. This typically means your dog is going to be in a splint for a month or even more. On top of having to keep your dog quiet until they’re healed, there also comes preventing additional problems caused by splints, like sores. If you’re in the unfortunate predicament of needing to care for your dog’s splint, what is the best way to go about it?
What is a dog splint used for?
Splints are applied to your dog when an injured area needs protection and support. This can include broken bones, post-orthopedic surgery, or torn ligaments and tendons. If your dog has a broken bone, the splint will be big enough that it prevents movement of the injured site but also immobilizing the joint above and below the injury, meaning your dog could end up with a very large splint and bandage.
Splints are most often applied to legs, typically below the knee of the hind legs and the humerus on the front leg. Because these areas of the body are always moving, your dog may also require a sling to completely immobilize the area.
What kinds of splints are there?
Splints are made of a hard, durable material like plastic, casting material, metal or wood.
How do I care for my dog’s splint?
If your dog is splinted, then they are also going to have a bandage over the top. This bandage keeps the splint in place, but it also keeps the injury dry, clean, and protected. That means that the bandage itself must always be clean and dry. If it gets wet or soiled for any reason, especially with bodily fluids, then it’s critical you have the bandage and splint changed immediately to prevent irritation on the skin and subsequent infections.
Your vet will also instruct you to monitor the splinted limb. You’ll want to check the visible areas daily to insure there isn’t any redness, swelling, discoloration of the skin, or moisture. These all warrant a call to your veterinarian. If for some reason your dog’s toes are exposed, check them frequently for swelling, heat, discoloration, or coldness.
Any slipping also requires a doctor visit. Slipping of the bandage or splint means the injured area is no longer properly immobilized and your dog is at risk for reinjury. Slipping will also cause the splint to rub inappropriately, too, causing painful sores that are difficult to resolve.
Tips for keeping your dog’s splint clean and in place:
Follow your veterinarian’s directions in terms of exercise restrictions and cage rest. Any excessive movement or activity will inevitably cause the splint to slip, causing sores, chafing, and reinjury to the site. Your dog should only be outside on a leash and they should be crated any time you aren’t able to monitor them at home.
Protect the bandage every time your dog goes outside, especially in the morning and evening as the grass is dewy. Your vet can give you a protective plastic booty to put over the bandage, or you can purchase boots specifically made to keep bandages and casts dry.
Keep your appointments with your vet to have the bandage and splint changed. Keeping bandages fresh and clean is the first step in helping your dog heal as quickly as possible.
Continually inspect the top of the bandage to watch for friction sores on your dog’s legs. Let their doctor know ASAP if your notice this change so they can help keep it from getting bigger and more painful.
As long as you follow your veterinarian’s directions in how to care for your dog’s splint, you shouldn’t have any issues with the splint creating sores or further injury to your dog.