Monday, June 8, 2009

Bandaging for Greyhounds

I have noticed that my blog gets quite a few hits when "bandaging" is searched on Google. My prior bandaging posts consisted mostly of rants and complaints about my experience when vets or vet techs bandage.... those I have encountered are surprisingly bad at it, charge too much, and have even caused additional injury. Maybe I am just really anal about it.

Since I am changing Reagan's bandage every few days, I thought it would provide an excellent opportunity to do a leg bandaging tutorial for greyhounds. This is probably suitable for other breeds of dogs, but I emphasize the issues in dealing with bony legs, large nails, thin skin, and short hair. I'm sure there are other great ways to bandage, here is one way:

First start with a clean, dry leg. If I am washing a wound between bandage changes, I feel it is important for the leg to be dry especially between the toes. I have used a hair dryer on a cool, low setting to speed the process.

Place a non-stick, sterile pad against wounds. Here, I have placed the pad against the surgical site because it may still bleed slightly.
Place cotton between the toes. This is often neglected. However, if you squeeze together the toes in a bandage, the outside nails will rub against the middle toes and create a painful wound. Next, I take cotton from a cotton roll found in any first aid section and wrap the leg, but not too thick. I like just enough to provide some padding.I secure the cotton with a trip of 4 inch Vet Wrap around the leg just one time. I suggest pulling the section you need from the roll (like you see below) and then wrapping. It is one way to reduce the risk of pulling the Vet Wrap too tightly.
Next, I take 2 inch Vet Wrap (or I cut 4 inch Vet Wrap down the middle).
I wrap the 2 inch Vet Wrap diagonal across the side of the foot, underneath, and then diagonally back up the other side of the foot.I take another piece of 2 inch Vet Wrap and attach a strip to the front of the leg, bring it across the middle toes and nails, and back up the back of the leg. To finish up with Vet Wrap, I then wrap the leg with the 4 inch version to secure my 2 inch sections that cover the toes. The reason I do not wrap the leg in one long continous strip of Vet Wrap is that I do not like wrinkles. Back when I rode horses, I was taught to be very partcular about bandages and to wrap without wrinkles. It is just my way now.
I have a love/hate relationship with Elastikon. Elastikon is similar to a sticky Ace bandage. Its flexible, stretchy, and has adhesive. It is great for keeping a bandage from slipping, but it also can pull off hair when removed and damage the skin. It can be especially painful if you are having to do multiple bandage changes.
To reduce the strength of the adhesive, I cut the amount of Elastikon I need off of the roll and then I stick the strip to my shirt, a dog bed, or the carpet. I want the strip to pick up some lint, dog hair, or other fibers to make the Elastikon less sticky and easier to remove later.
I wrap the Elastikon around the top of the Vet Wrap bandage and I end the strip of Elastikon on a little bit of fur so the bandage does not slip down. In the picture below, the Elastikon strip ends on the outside of her leg. Next time, I might end it on the inside or the front or the back or higher or lower on the leg. This prevents the same section of skin and hair from being abused by Elastikon adhesive.
I also use a strip of Elastikon around the foot at the bottom of the wrap. It is not necessary to reduce the strength of the adhesive if you are just sticking it to Vet Wrap (and not fur).
Again, do not pull the bandage tightly.
Lastly, I like to spray my bandages with a product called Bitter Apple to make it taste bad. It does not work for all dogs, but it does help to reduce chewing the bandage. Other products for this purpose include Anti-Lick Strips and Lick Guard. I also saw a bandage called Pet Flex No Chew which is a bitter tasting bandage. Unfortunately, it does not come in all the cool colors that Vet Wrap does..... but if it stops a chewer, it is worth it.
All of these products and materials listed above can be purchased at KV Vet Supply.