Emergency care of your injured dog needs to begin as soon as you realise there's a problem, particularly when the problem appears to be a fractured limb. Because any attempt to transport a pet to the veterinarian without stabilising the broken leg causes unnecessary pain and may further damage the tissues, learning how to improvise a splint from materials on hand will lessen the trauma to both you and your animal.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Splint material: sticks, rulers, rolled magazines or newspapers, stiff cardboard
- Strips of fabric and/or gauze
- Towel, sheet and/or several newspaper pages
- Towel (for cushion)
- Blanket or pallet
Place a muzzle over your dog's mouth to keep him from biting you; any dog in pain may bite. If a muzzle is not available, use a long strip of fabric or gauze to tie around his mouth.
Position the splint material on either side of your dog's injured leg without touching the skin. Cut or bend the splint material to fit the site. Make the splint long enough to cover the entire leg and wrap the joint above and below the fracture to provide adequate support.
Secure the splint material around the leg with separate strips of fabric or rolled gauze. Cut the pieces of fabric or gauze long enough that you can tie the ends together over the splint. This will fix the splint material firmly in place.
Wrap a towel, a sheet or pages of newspaper around the splint. Stabilise the wrap by rolling the entire bandage in tape.
Move your dog to a blanket or pallet. Lay a towel under the injured leg to prevent bumping it.
Transport your animal to the veterinarian immediately for medical treatment.
Tips and warnings
- You can use a straightened metal coat hanger, PVC material or metal pipes for a splint. Remember to cover any sharp edges with tape prior to applying the splint to avoid further injury to your dog, advises "Fundamental Techniques in Veterinary Surgery."
- Splints typically work best on front legs, states VetInfo.com. Do not splint your dog's humerus or femur (the large, upper bones of the front and back limbs).
- Do not splint an open wound fracture. This type of fracture presents with torn skin, bleeding and, frequently, exposure of the broken bone. The veterinarians at VetInfo.com recommend flushing the wound with a saline solution or clean water and covering the injury. You will need to immobilise the leg and transport the dog immediately to your vet.
- Do not tape the splint to your animal's fur. Keep the tape around the wrapping material so that removal of the splint doesn't cause further pain by pulling on your pet's hair.
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