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Bandaging – Part 3

The tricky bits

In the last of her series on bandaging vet REBECCA BAILEY looks at those difficult parts which are always on the move – legs and tails.

This is my final article on bandaging and will cover the tail and hock (ankle joint). The tail, although frequently traumatised, rarely needs a bandage, this is generally a good thing as they are not the easiest dressings to keep on and will often be tested to their limit on a fast wagging tail. The hock can also make challenging bandaging as it includes a tendon which runs from the point (equivalent to our heel) upwards to join the muscles at the back of the knee. In us, this is the same as our Achilles tendon.

Golden Rules
  • Have all materials ready to hand before starting
  • When 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.

Tail bandaging

The tail bandage is useful in a couple of situations. Firstly for example, in dogs with tails which have been subject to sudden trauma such as being caught in car door, and have resulted in a split, profusely bleeding skin wound. Secondly, it is useful in those dogs which have endured ongoing trauma and just require some intermittent protection to allow healing and recovery.

It is common for some breeds to continue damaging a tail by persistent wagging against a hard surface long after the initial injury has passed. As I have mentioned before, I try to treat most tail injuries in a conservative manner. By this, I mean cleaning, close inspection and then application of an antiseptic or moisturising agent to nip things in the bud.

Step 1

tailstep1

Apply a dressing to cover the wound – you may find it helpful to tape this in place (pic 1, 2)

Step 2

tailstep2

As with the foot bandage apply the dressing to cover the tip first then wrap from the end, up towards the body. Overlap each turn by 1/3 to ½ to keep pressure as even as possible(pic 3, 4)

Step 3

tailstep3

Hold the padding in place with the conforming or adhesive layer, repeat the same pattern as before. Try not to have a huge bulge at the tip as this will mean the tail behaves like a pendulum and everything will gradually slip off backwards!(pic 5, 6)

Step 4

tailstep4

You will probably need to secure the bandage in place with some adhesive tape to stop slipping. Use a couple of turns of tape and each time try and catch a few hairs to keep everything in place. Not a lot of tapes stick well to large amounts of dog fur so catch enough hairs to secure but not too few so that they are pulled out. (pic 7,8)

Some authors will recommend covering the tail tip with a plastic tube or fastening the tail to the back leg – unfortunately I have not found either of these methods to work for me but it often depends on the dog. If you are without bandages but have a friendly plumber you can use the tubular pipe insulation as a tail protector. I have seen some success with taping this onto the tail so it is just long enough to protect the tip!

Hock bandage

hockstep1

hockstep2

hockstep3

Step 1

Clean if possible, and cover the wound with a dressing, again you may find it useful to tape this in place.

Step 2

Try to keep the hock in a position similar to that when the dog is standing. Apply the padded layer working from bottom to top to avoid squeezing the blood towards the toes. The bandage will sit more comfortably if you use a figure-of-eight pattern around the point at the back of the hock. Sometimes in lurchers and dogs with a very prominent Achilles tendon it is good to pad the grooves on either side, this will help support the tendon when the next layer goes on.

Step 3

Use the conforming or next layer of bandage in the same pattern as the previous layer. Make sure you do not pull the bandage too tightly over the tendon or it will rub and cause pressure sores.

Step 4

The finished bandage should be loose enough to allow a small amount of joint flexion but tight enough to stay on.

Final reminder:

Remember all bandages must be kept dry and checked at least once a day. As soon as a bandage starts to slip or rub it is no use to the dog and is more often a hindrance than a help.  If at any stage you find the dog is uncomfortable with the bandage or the wound appears to be getting worse or smelly, then you must consult a vet. It is sometimes useful to get face-to-face advice initially if you are unsure, this way you will know better for next time.

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 www.millpledge.com/bandagebook

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