Seeing your sweet pup or kitty sporting a tiny cast or splint can have you fluctuating between exclaiming, "My poor baby!" and "Geez, she's so cute!" The good news is that pets bounce back from broken or fractured bones. If they're in a cast, the traumatic part is over, you've addressed the issue, and your pet is on their way toward a smooth recovery.
At-home care is provided by you, the pet parent, and it accounts for roughly half the rehabilitation. It's your job to keep your pet's injury and cast clean and dry, and to prevent any mishaps while nursing your cat or dog back to health.
How to keep a pet cast or splint clean.
Follow your vet's advice on how to properly take care of the cast or splint. Each animal, wound and cast is different, so a personalized approach is key to a successful recovery. That said, there are some steadfast rules that apply to any situation.
- Keep the area dry: Avoid puddles, baths, and even letting your pet lick the area. Though casts are usually water resistant, they're hardly ever waterproof, so large amounts of water can cause damage. The cast and surrounding area should be dry at all times, as wet casts are a breeding ground for bacteria and infections.
- Gently clean if necessary: If absolutely necessary, you can use a slightly damp, sudsy washcloth to clean the exterior of the cast.
- Don't trim: It may be tempting to alleviate your pet's discomfort by trimming the cast, but your vet made it that size for a reason! If you see a rough or sharp edge, you can use a nail file to soften. If it seems really bad, ask the vet to adjust it.
- Don't stuff or poke: Don't put anything into the cast, including cotton balls, your fingers, a scratching stick, or otherwise. Sharp objects could damage the wound, and stuffing it could make it too tight and cut off circulation. Check circulation: Periodically check your pet's toes to make sure they've got good circulation. If their toes are cold, consult your vet ASAP.
- Do a sniff test: Yep, it has come to this. A foul scent is one of the biggest indicators that there's an infection brewing. Call the vet immediately if the cast begins to smell.
- Call your vet: We've said it before, but we'll say it again - throughout the recovery, call your vet and update him/her on progress as well as ask any questions you may have.
How to prevent your pet from destroying the cast
Though you've done your part in keeping the cast clean and dry, your pet may have other plans! You know how it is when you have an awful itch and all you want to do is scratch away? Your pet may feel the same way about their cast, only they don't realize just how much damage their scratching can do.
You'll need to employ a few tricks to keep your pet from biting, scratching and licking the area, especially in the first few days when they're especially bothered and confused by its presence.
- Whip out the cone: It's all fun and games until they have to wear the cone of shame! But seriously, a cone prevents your pet from licking, chewing or biting the wound or the cast, thereby keeping the cast intact and the wound protected.
- Wrap a plastic bag over the cast when outside: This will keep the area clean, dry and protected from the elements. Use tape or thin rubber bands, then remove the plastic bag when you're back inside.
- Cover other feet: If your pet has a habit of scratching, place a thick sock over the other feet and secure gently. Your pet will not be amused by this at all, but it's for the best!
- Book a sitter: If you have the means, booking a pet sitter while you're away can alleviate some worry that your pet will gnaw off the cast as soon as you're gone. We love Rover for keeping it local, and because it's so easy to use.
Again, don't hesitate to call your vet if you have any questions or concerns. They will be able to assist you while your sweet ball of fluff is on the road to recovery.