Paws for thought
Cut pads are a common injury in gundogs and here vet REBECCA BAILEY explains how to bandage a dog’s feet.
Having looked at head bandages in the last Shooting & Conservation it’s now time to go to the other extreme – feet. Working in rough ground it’s inevitable that a dog will occasionally cut a pad. Often this is very minor and you can treat it yourself, but broken glass or sharp metal can cause a deep wound which needs effective treatment and stitching and that calls for professional attention.
However in many cases a pad will have been sliced across the surface rather than cut deeply. Dogs tend to lick at this type of injury and will often contaminate and traumatise the wound by doing this. To prevent a minor injury becoming more serious you can bandage the paw yourself. This is the basic technique
Bandaging a dog’s feet – a step by step guide
Clean and dry the wound as thoroughly as possible
Place padding between the toes and pads and under the dew claw. This is important as often the dew claw will dig into the side of the foot once the bandage is applied and the toes will rub when pressed together without protection.
This is slightly tricky but can be done single-handed; you need to protect the wound with a dressing whilst keeping the padding in place and applying the first layer of bandage. Sometimes I do opt for taping the dressing material on when I have a wriggly dog or awkwardly placed wound. Padded bandage is definitely preferable for this first layer and should be applied so that the bandage unrolls onto the leg (see diagram and picture). You need to start from the top of the area to be covered, roll down over and round the bottom of the foot then back again in the reverse direction (Figure 3).
While still holding everything in place, the bandage is then wrapped around the foot; it is preferable to start from the bottom and work up.
The first layer should then be secured by a second and, if necessary, a third layer, following the same motions.
Be careful not to leave padding sticking out at the top as sometimes this is too tempting for the dog and will be picked out piece by piece.
Also remember that the bandage must be protected from damp, at the surgery we offer clients old drip bags as they are quite robust, however a thick plastic bag will do. This must be put on every time the dog goes outside when the ground is wet or onto grass. The bandage unfortunately acts like a sponge and although the outside will dry the inside will remain wet.
For a wound such as the sliced pad you will need to change the dressing daily to start with. This is to make sure that healing is progressing without evidence of infection. Signs of this are very obvious and include swelling, pain, redness or discharge. If this is evident then consult a vet.
With 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 www.millpledge.com/bandagebook