It's not a good idea to provide DIY medical attention when there's professional veterinary help available, but there may be times during your life with your dog when you'll need to provide some emergency help. If your dog suffers a pulled muscle, sprain, fracture, or break, a splint can help immobilize the leg or tail, preventing further pain and damage to ligaments, tendons, muscle, and bone. Using items you have around the house, you can make a homemade splint for a dog leg that keeps the injury stable while you transport your pet to an animal hospital or veterinary clinic.
Calm the dog
To prevent the dog from thrashing around and feeling additional emotional and physical pain, let the dog know you are there in control and that you are going to help him. Look the dog in the eye, hold the injured limb or tail area where it's not painful, and speak in a calming manner until he starts to calm down. Try not talking to your dog for a short time, looking him in the eye so he knows everything is OK.
Video of the Day
At some point, you'll need to leave your dog alone while you gather what you'll need to create a splint. You will want the dog to lie still while you get your items, and calming him down will help achieve this.
Assess the injury
Once your dog has calmed down, look over the injury. It might not be cut or bleeding. It might be swelling or might be obviously out of shape. Touch the area, starting the farthest away from where you think the injury is, moving slowly toward it. When the dog winces, you have reached the area where the injury is painful.
Decide if you're doing to need to bandage as well as splint the injury. Determine if you need to wash it, such as if it's cut and the dog has been in mud, feces, or other matter that might cause an infection. Decide what items you're going to need to treat the pet.
Gather your items
To create a splint for a dog leg, you'll need a firm object, such as a ruler, stick, rolled-up newspaper or magazine, or other item you place against the injury to keep it from bending. For small dogs, a pen, dull pencil, or butter knife might be all you need.
Make sure whatever object you use doesn't have a sharp end that might dig into the leg or tail if the dog tries to bend it. Make sure your splinting items are longer than the injured area so your dog can't bend the limb. Avoid tape and sticky bandages, which can irritate a dog's fur and cause him to chew and pull on them.
Immobilize the dog’s head
Let your dog sniff the items you're going to use so she knows they are harmless and won't cause pain. It might be a good idea to muzzle your dog to prevent her from nipping at you or trying to bite any object that causes pain while you're applying it. If you have another person with you, he can hold the dog and cradle her head while you begin working on the injury. If he can talk to the dog and maintain eye contact while you're putting on the splint, this will help.
If you see that the area is swollen, put some ice in a towel and gently rest the injured area on the cold towel. See how the dog reacts. If she reacts positively, leave the limb or tail on the towel while you start gathering your materials for the splint.
Set the splint for the dog's leg
Place the dog on his side with the injured leg on top. Depending on the severity of the damage to the leg (a break, for example), you might need to avoid straightening the leg, which can cause further injury. In this case, just splint the lower or upper part of the leg. Before you put a splint on the dog's leg, look for any wounds and bandage them first.
Next, gently place some gauze or other soft material on the dog's leg or tail. Next, put the splint under the dog's leg or tail. Place the beginning of your wrapping material underneath the object. If you are using two items to splint the leg, place the second object on the opposite side of the leg or tail if you are going to use two items to immobilize the leg or tail.
Take the bandage, gauze, towel, sheet, or other material you're going to use and begin to gently wrap it around the splint and limb or tail. Show the dog the material and let him sniff it so he knows it's not a problem. Make sure you leave enough extra to tie it off; you don't want to wrap the leg and then find you don't have enough material to tie it off and have to unwrap the splint and do it again. You can also use tape to keep the splint in place.
Wrap the material firmly but not tightly, as this can interfere with blood circulation to the limb. You are not trying to set the leg or tail; you're just trying to keep it from bending until you can get the dog to the vet. Try to gently bend the leg or tail to make sure your splint is preventing it from moving. Adjust the splint and binding if necessary. Tie the splint at each end to keep the material and splint in place.
See how she reacts
Take your hands off the splint and see how your dog reacts. If she starts trying to shake off the splint or tries to stand, put your hands back on her and start speaking in a calming voice. Try to make her understand that you don't want her moving the leg or tail. Repeat this process until the dog no longer moves her leg or tail when you remove your hands. Take the dog to a vet or vet tech as soon as possible.