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Bandage Care: How to Take Care of Your Pets Bandages and Incisions

At Metropolitan Veterinary Associates we want to serve as a source of information for your pet care and will show techniques for at-home treatments of common pet issues. Today, we will be teaching you how to care for bandages, incisions, and Elizabethan collars.

If at any point you do not feel comfortable performing these techniques, you should consider contacting your veterinarian. Remember, while it is possible to do these techniques with one person, it is always easier to do them with two people present.

Bandage Care for Your Pet

Basic bandage care at home is extremely important for the well-being of your pet. Whether it be a chest, belly, or leg bandage, potential complications could arise.  Check your pet’s bandage several times daily to make sure it hasn’t slipped, changed in position or shape, become wet or dirty, emits an unusual odor, or has discharge seeping through it. A leg bandage that is too tight or has slipped may cause swelling of the limb and toes as well as exposure of the incision site. A chest or abdominal bandage that is too tight or has slipped forward, may cause your pet to have difficulty breathing.

If you notice any of these complications or have any doubt as to the integrity of the bandage, please have your veterinarian assess your pet as soon as possible. When taking your pet outside, always place the Medipaw over the bandage so that it remains clean and dry. If you don’t have a Medipaw, you may use a thick plastic bag to cover the bandage. Be sure to use tape to hold it in place, not rubber bands. Once your pet comes back inside, please remember to remove the covering. Leaving this in place long term, may cause moisture and condensation buildup within the bandage, potentially resulting in serious complications.

Please do not try to fix or replace the bandage yourself. Always call your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Bandages can be quite irritating to your pet and may draw their attention to the site. They may want to bite, lick, or chew at that area. Please be sure to keep the collar on your pet at all times. If you choose to remove the collar, do not leave your pet unsupervised for any period of time.

Elizabethan Collar

An Elizabethan collar, also known as an E-collar, is used to prevent your pet from accessing a bandage or incision site. An e-collar should be slipped over your pet’s head and rest around the neck. It can be secured with some sort of material you can tie, such as tape folded in half so it’s not sticky, gauze, or the pet’s collar. To ensure the collar isn’t too tight you should be able to get your fingers between the tie and your pet’s neck.

Once in place, the nose should not extend past the end of the collar. An improper fit may give your pet the opportunity to lick and chew at the bandage or incision site and may lead to potentially serious complications. Some pets may be resistant to eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom with the collar on. In these instances, please remove the collar and closely supervise your pet. Once they have finished, immediately place the collar back on your pet.

Incision Care

You should inspect the incision daily to ensure that there is no excessive redness or heat to the touch, swelling, or discharge. These symptoms may be indicative of an infection or complication in your pet’s recovery.

Do not place any topical ointments or creams over the incision unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. If at any point you are unsure or uncomfortable with the care, please contact your veterinarian. Your pet may not especially enjoy having a bandage, collar, or sutures in place. It is important to assess them daily to ensure to your pet’s well-being. Finally, in caring for your recovering pet be sure to praise them and give them lots of love.

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