Bandaging for Wound Management in Our Pets

What is a wound?

A wound is any break in the cohesion between in the skin secondary to trauma or injury (cuts, punctures, scrapes, ulcers, burns). It may require a bandage to heal. A wound can be superficial or deep and clean or contaminated (dirty, infected). The size and type of wound dictates the type of treatment required. Some wounds can take months to heal and may look worse before they start to get better. Veterinary attention is required as soon as possible. However, there are some steps that you, as pet owners, can take both prior to the first consultation and during the treatment period of the wound. This will ensure that the wound heals as efficiently as possible, in order to reduce treatment time and increase comfort for your pet!

How you can help when you notice a wound - before arriving at the vet clinic

Remember that if your pet has injured themselves, they will be in pain and may be reactive to touch. So, be sure to take extra care and be gentle when handling your pet, in order to reduce the chance of being bitten or scratched. Rest assured that your pet will receive pain relief as soon as the vet has examined them.

However, if your pet will tolerate it, flush away large amounts of dirt or debris within the wound. Use tap water or saline water. Dry and clean bandaging material can then be used to cover the wound but only if the pet cannot pull it off and swallow it; and it is very important not to wrap a limb or tail. This is because tight wrapping can cause loss of blood flow to the area, and potentially lead to gangrene/necrosis. Do not apply any creams, ointments, or other human antiseptic solutions as these may be detrimental to your pet's wound healing and cause more damage to the skin cells.

It is important to make an appointment with one of our vets as soon as possible, so they can provide your pet with professional wound care. A bandage may be applied to the wound.

Functions of Bandages

- Wound protection
- Provide a clean wound healing environment
- Retain moisture within the wound, for better blood flow and more effective healing
- Make it more difficult for a pet to lick the wound and disrupt the healing process
- Pressure to reduce bleeding and excessive swelling (oedema)
- Help remove damaged tissue
- Help absorb fluid/discharge that seeps from the wound (for example, pus)

A bandage will only be placed by the vet if they believe that it will facilitate faster healing.

How you can help - after leaving the vet clinic

1. Ensure your pet is not licking or chewing at the bandage. An Elizabethan collar will be provided and must be warn at all times, as it acts as a barrier between the mouth and the bandage.

2. Inspect the bandage 3 times daily for any signs of:
- movement - is the bandage in its original position?
- damage - is there any inner bandaging material exposed or is the bandage coming unstuck?
- staining - is there any material soaking through the bandage from the inside?
- wetness or foul smelling-odour
- increased soreness - is your pet experiencing any lameness, crying, or increases in biting/chewing at the wound?

Bandaging complications can be serious (such as loss of blood flow to a limb or tail), but are often preventable, provided prompt action is taken when you notice any problems.