Since dogs are naturally playful, getting into an injury is unavoidable. When this happens, conducting first aid is a must to prevent the injury from getting worse. If your dog breaks a bone, for instance, one of the most common dog leg injury solutions is a splint.
But what is a splint? A splint is a device that immobilizes and supports an injured limb. It is made of durable and rigid materials so it won’t come off despite constant or abrupt movements. A split prevents further complications and speeds up your dog’s recovery time.
In this blog, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about dog splints.
How to Splint Broken Dog Bones
Using a splint for dogs can help reduce swelling and immobilize an injury. Even though it doesn’t wrap entirely around your dog’s leg like a cast, it is still an effective method to treat leg injuries. For example, you can use a splint for carpal joint osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, or other soft tissue injuries.
Whether you’re splinting your dog’s front or hind legs, you’ll be following the same procedure.
- Observe the injured leg and take your pet to the vet.
- When you take your dog to the vet, they’ll use medical tape or elastic gauze to bind the leg with the plaster.
- The material your vet will use for the dog splint will depend on how big your pet is and how long their leg is.
- Your vet will wet the plaster and prepare the splint material on the dressing table.
- Your vet will run the wet strips of plaster down the cranial (anterior) and caudal (posterior) aspects of your dog’s leg while making sure that the distance between the two are the same.
- After that, the vet will wrap the gauze or bandage in a circular motion around the plaster.
- The splint will be flexed to align with your dog’s leg. This way, even when your dog is wearing the splint, they can still move naturally.
- For additional security, your vet will apply tape to the splint.
How Effective is a Splint in Treating Leg Injuries?
Dog splints can help your pet recover faster from a front or rear leg injury. But the length of recovery will depend on secondary complications, such as infections or swelling.
Most adult dogs require wearing a splint for a few weeks until they’re fully recovered. For good measure, consult your vet to know how long your dog needs the splint and how often you should replace it.
How Much Does a Splint Cost?
The cost of a broken bone can range between $200 to over $1,000. If the injury is just a minor fracture, your pet will simply need to wear a sling and get proper bedrest. But if it’s a compound fracture, your pooch may require surgery or steel plates inserted into their limbs.
If your vet decides that your dog requires a splint, there are two factors that indicate the cost of a dog splint: the severity of the injury and how much the procedure costs. The price could vary depending on the clinic, however. For example, splinting an extremity can cost as much as $2,000.
How to Prevent Dog Splint Injuries
The need for a dog splint can easily be avoided by making sure your dog is safe when playing or running. Make sure you dog-proof your space to prevent serious injuries. If you plan to take your dog outside, use a leash or have your pooch play in a fenced-in yard.
There are various ways your pet can sustain an injury. For example, they could fall from a height or get into an injury after getting carried away while playing with other dogs.
At-Home Splint Care Tips
Caring for your dog’s injury doesn’t stop after getting them a splint — aftercare is just as essential. After all, complications are more likely to arise if a dog fails to receive proper care at home.
Here are a few of our dog splint care tips:
Make sure the splint fits properly
Damaged splints can cause more harm than good. So make sure that the device is in good condition and let your vet know if the splint doesn’t fit properly or comes loose easily. But make sure you don’t attempt to repair the damaged dog splint since it could cause more complications.
Keep the device clean and dry
Keep the bandage or splint dry at all times because water could seep through the layers and cause an infection. Apart from preventing water from seeping in, check if the splint has been soiled by mud, blood, or feces. An unclean splint should be removed and reapplied.
Apply waterproof coverings when needed
If you plan to take your dog outside, make sure to place a waterproof covering, like a plastic bag, over the splint to prevent it from getting wet.
But keep in mind that the plastic bag should only be used for short periods (no more than 60 minutes at a time) because the moisture could easily build up inside. So don’t forget to remove the plastic bag immediately once you arrive in a safe, dry environment. Wearing a wet dog splint for more than 24 hours could cause a skin infection, after all.
Prevent chewing and licking
Your dog’s natural response is to lick or chew on the splint. Consider getting a device for additional splint protection, like a restraint collar or protective sleeve. The ideal leg protection device should have a sure-fit design and offer full leg coverage. Regardless of the device you choose, make sure it allows natural movement.
Regularly check the bandage and splint
A bandage recheck must be done every 48 hours in case it’s loose or damaged. On a similar vein, make sure to check the splint every 2-7 days to make sure it’s aligned and fits properly.
Inspect for loose or tight splints
Always check the condition of your dog’s splint. Loose bandages may easily untangle and tight wraps can cause swelling. Check your dog’s toes or the skin underneath the splint at least once a day for any signs that the splint could be too tight or loose.
Consult your veterinarian
Contact your clinic and bring your dog in for a recheck appointment and reapplication of the splint. Your vet will also track the healing process of your dog’s injury.
Tips for DIY Casting
If your pet gets into an accident and you can’t bring them to the vet right away, you’ll need to know how to perform the first aid yourself. Tending to their injuries can help ensure that no further injury happens to your dog’s ligaments and muscles. After all, transporting a dog with an untreated wound can be dangerous.
Here’s a quick guide on how to splint a dog’s leg at home.
- Inform your local veterinarian. Describe the injury in detail. Your vet may also provide minor first aid directions.
- Keep your dog calm. Keep your dog calm so they don’t injure themselves further. You can place a muzzle on your dog’s snout to prevent growling or biting. If no device is available, use a towel or ask help from someone to keep your dog under control.
- Use a sturdy item for a make-shift splint. When making a temporary cast, make sure the item you’ll use is durable enough to keep your dog’s leg in place. Thick cardboard or a rolled-up newspaper typically works for larger dogs. Meanwhile, you may use a pencil or small ruler for smaller dogs. The item should also be long enough to extend past the injured limb for stability.
- Wrap the item with gauze. You may use medical tape to secure the gauze for your DIY splint. Just make sure it’s not too tight or loose.
- Bring your dog to the vet immediately. DIY casts are only a temporary solution. Bring your pet to the vet for a long-term splint that’ll help your dog recover from injury.
Address Urgent Injuries with Dog Splints
Dogs get injured, and sometimes it could result in a broken bone. The good news is that fractures and wounds heal as long as they get the proper treatment. The affected limb will return to its near-normal condition and regain its strength. So provide the necessary support and ease your dog slowly back into an active lifestyle.
Want to learn more about how you can keep your pet happy and healthy? Visit our blog for dog care tips.