Does your dog refuse to wear a bandage?

If your dog refuses to wear a bandage, don’t despair. The right product and materials ensure a comfortable dressing that’ll stay in place through the healing process.

Chances are, your dog will need to wear a bandage at some point in his life, whether it’s for a laceration, bite, or surgical incision. Depending on the type of injury, and its location, a bandage may be necessary to protect it from dirt and bacteria, stop bleeding, and/or keep the dog from licking off medication or biting at the wound and making it worse. Problem is, many dogs don’t like wearing them and may try to chew or tear them off, creating a lot of frustration and anxiety for everyone.

It doesn’t have to be so difficult. The important thing is to choose a soft, properly-designed product that’s comfortable for the dog, doesn’t cause itching or irritation, and fits and fastens properly. “Give your dog a comfortable bandage and distract him for three to five minutes after applying it,” says Jennifer DiGrazia of PawFlex. “In most cases you will have a dog that forgets the bandage is even on, and he will leave it alone.”

What to look for

• Companies that offer quality bandages for dogs will have different designs and sizes for different types of wound and sizes of animal. According to WebMD, canine bandages are most frequently used for the lower legs and feet.

• You might think an adhesive bandage is best, since it’ll be harder for your dog to get off. But a non-adhesive design is actually the better option. “This is so the dog’s hair won’t get pulled and cause more irritation, injury and pain to already sensitive skin,” says Jennifer. In addition, an adhesive bandage will be more likely to stick to the dog’s hair rather than his skin, and consequently won’t sit over the wound properly.

• Opt for a product that has some give and stretch, so it won’t restrict the dog when he moves. If it interferes with his ability to move, he’ll be more likely to try and get it off.

• Another key characteristic of a good bandage is breathability. Proper airflow through the material helps with healing by preventing infection and inflammation as well as the itching and irritation that may arise from prolonged use.

• A bandage material that doesn’t contain any chemicals can also help prevent skin reactions and won’t be toxic for the dog if he tries to chew at the dressing.

• Consider water resistance. Like a small child, your dog won’t understand that he needs to keep his bandage dry and clean; if it gets dirty and wet, bacteria and other pathogens could migrate through the material and into the wound.

• Look at how the bandage fastens. “There are several ways to secure a bandage but the best way for animals would be Velcro or a Velcro-type losure,” says Jennifer. “It’s quick and easy, it can be adjusted and checked as often as necessary without compromising the integrity of the bandage, and it won’t cause your dog any additional discomfort.”

Care and maintenance

Check the dressing regularly and change it as soon as it becomes dirty, or if it starts to slip or gets too loose or tight. You can protect a foot bandage with a plastic bag or bootie when you take the dog outside in wet weather, but be sure to remove the bag as soon as you come back in. Don’t let your dog outside unsupervised while he is wearing a bandage – it could get snagged on something and he could re-injure himself trying to get free. If it starts to smell bad, or there is unusual redness or discharge coming from the wound, contact your vet right away.

If your dog still insists on trying to remove his bandage, you might have to resort to an Elizabethan collar. But you can greatly reduce the chances of this by opting for a comfortable, well-made product especially designed for his anatomy and needs.