Bandages come in all shapes and sizes, and are used for many reasons, but they all have one thing in common: if they are not cared for properly, they can do more harm than good! A bandage may be placed over a wound simply to keep the area clean and dry. Some bandages are designed to minimize motion of a joint and others hold important topical medication in place. Any bandage that slips down or moves from its original location is no longer performing its intended function. Sometimes the slipping of a bandage can cut off circulation to a limb or put undue pressure on certain areas. A wet bandage can be particularly nasty, leading to damage of the skin and subsequent infection. If a pet chews at a bandage, it is more likely to slip and cause trouble.
Most well placed bandages are comfortable and most pets will leave them alone. If your pet wants to chew or lick at a bandage, see your veterinarian right away. It means that either the bandage is uncomfortable and needs adjustment, or your pet needs a good deterrent to chewing! You can keep a bandage dry by taping a plastic bag around the area when you take your dog outside to potty. Be sure to take the bag off once you are back indoors. If damage, slippage or moisture occurs, resist the temptation to fix the bandage yourself. Duct tape and other things wrapped around toes or the full circumference of the leg can be extremely dangerous. If your pet has a bandage that looks like this, seek veterinary help immediately!
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP