Bandages, Casts and Drains
Some animals will go home with bandages over wounds or on limbs. You must try to keep the bandages dry. If they do get wet it's best to ring and check if the vet wants to replace them. Most bandages are changed every 2 to 3 days (but sooner if they get wet). If animals tend to chew or tear at bandages a special collar or "bucket" may have to be fitted over his/her head. When going outside to the toilet, a plastic bag wrapped around the bandage is helpful to keep bandages clean and dry. A “wetsuiting style” stubbie cooler can also work well.
Maintenance and care of casts
Casts are often used for leg fractures and applied for up to 6-8 weeks. The length of time depends on the type of fracture and age of the animal. Each day casts should be checked for signs of irritation (e.g. unpleasant smells, animals chewing at cast due to pain underneath). Smelling allows early detection of pressure sores, wound problems etc. Placing a finger up between the toes allows you to check the toes are warm with normal circulation.
Casts nowadays are made of fibreglass and are much lighter and more water resistant than plaster casts. However they must still be kept dry and to save wearing out at extremities, owners are often advised to tape a piece of inner type tube or rubber onto the ends that are continually being abraded (it also provides water proofing for going outside). A “wetsuiting style” stubbie cooler also often works well.
Younger animals, because of faster growth rate may end up having two or three cast changes (they literally grow out of their cast). They also tend to develop pressure sores more so than adult animals so that daily checking of the cast is even more important.
Casts are not indestructible ‑ and the animal should be kept relatively quiet to preserve the cast and allow wounds and fractures to heal. Too much movement can lead to rubbing of the skin at the top of casts causing redness and inflammation. Should this happen, line the top of the cast with elastoplast or tuck cotton wool in around the top of the cast and see your veterinarian if the problem persists. Animals with a cast on must normally be in a small pen (toilet or ensuite sized) or on a 2-3metre chain. They may be walked a short distance ON A LEAD for toileting.
Drains are sometimes stitched into wounds to help rid the wounds of excessive fluids and discharge. Pets may tend to pull, lick and chew them out so that an elizabethan collar or bucket may have to be worn when you are unable to watch them (usually of a night or through the day if you leave them to go to work).
Twice daily cleaning around the drain with warm salt water until the drain is removed is advisable.
They are usually removed at a short visit to the clinic after 3-5 days depending on the amount of fluid still draining from the wound.