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Bandaging – Part 1

Bandaging for beginners

In the first of a series of articles on how to bandage your dog, vet REBECCA BAILEY starts at the top.

In this and succeeding articles I am going to talk about some of the most commonly used bandages for working dogs. It is more than acceptable for people to carry out their own bandaging at home and I encourage it in many cases. There are however some important things to remember.

So far we have discussed the various types of wounds and injuries and hopefully it is fairly evident which of those can be dealt with at home and which require veterinary help. There are three main reasons for using bandages, these are:

  • stemming of bleeding
  • protection of the wound from further trauma
  • keeping the wound clean.

It is important to remember that if a bandage is put on too tightly it will restrict blood supply to tissues and conversely, if too loose, it will fall off. Furthermore it is important to check the bandage a couple of times a day to make sure that it is not rubbing of cutting in, working itself loose or has got wet, as these things will all inhibit healing.

Golden Rules
  • Have all materials ready to hand before startingWhen bandaging a lower limb include the foot to prevent it swelling, start from the toes and work upwards to stop blood from pocketing at the tips.
  • Only unroll a small amount of bandage at a time, this will ensure a more even tension throughout and will be easier to handle.
  • Apply firmly overlapping each turn by a 1/3 to a 1/2, an over-tight bandage will impede circulation.
  • Where necessary secure the end of the bandage either by splitting and tying in a knot or using tape.

The head bandage

This is very useful for torn ear flaps. Any of you who have had a dog who has either been bitten on the ear or had a tear will know how well supplied it is with blood.  The aim of the bandage is to provide compression and stability and by doing this will give time for the body’s own clotting mechanism to take over. The problem with the ears is that they are often painful when damaged and a dog’s response is to shake and therefore dislodge any clot that may have formed, so starting the bleeding all over again. Two pairs of hands are often needed for this bandage unless you have a very compliant dog.

Step 1


Identify the site of trauma, this is often difficult to locate and generally fairly small compared to the volume of blood. It is pointless to try cleaning things too much at this stage as blood will soon appear again.

Step 2


Apply a light dressing to the area to stop the bandage sticking and fold the ear flap back over the top of the dog’s head. This is the position in which you need to try and keep the ear whilst bandaging hence the need for extra hands.

Step 3


Start the first layer of bandage at the top of the head over the problem ear, and wrap it securely under the throat and back up the other side of the head. Do this once more so that the elevated ear flap remains in place. From here you can then do a ‘figure of eight’ pattern using the other ear as an anchor to stop the bandage slipping back and forth. Some diagrams such as the one illustrated will demonstrate both ears bandaged up but it depends on the individual case.

Step 4


Add another layer following the same pattern if required.


Things to remember…

Don’t do the bandage too tightly otherwise the dog may not be able to swallow, also don’t come too far down over the forehead or the bandage will slip and the dog can’t see. Usually a few hours with the bandage in place will stop most bleeding however if the dog will tolerate it for longer then that is fine. When used to stem bleeding and apply pressure this bandage is only designed for short term use, if the wound is such that it does not need suturing then it will be fine to remove the bandage the next day.

millpledgeWith grateful thanks to Millpledge Ltd who supplied the dressings and diagrams in this article. For more detailed information on bandaging you can visit their website

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