How to Make a Splint for a Dog's Shoulder

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How to Make a Splint for a Dog's Shoulder
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Things You'll Need

  • Cotton padding

  • Combine roll

  • Elastic water-resistant veterinary bandaging


A dog's injured shoulder should be checked as soon as possible by a qualified veterinary medical professional. X-rays, bone scans, and blood tests may need to be performed to ensure that the injury will not worsen. If the shoulder is fractured or dislocated, it may need to be set back into place, and a cast may need to be applied. Seeking immediate veterinary medical attention can prevent costly and dangerous corrective procedures or painful months of rehabilitative therapy for your dog. Even what may appear to be a simple sprain could be worse than it appears, as dogs cannot say exactly what is wrong.

A Velpeau sling is rarely left in place for more than two weeks. The sling immobilizes the entire limb in a state of extreme flexion, which can cause muscle weakness, unwillingness or inability to bear weight on the limb and fear for the dog. These conditions often reverse within a week of the removal of a Velpeau sling.


It is important that the entire limb be immobilized when dealing with a shoulder injury. A dog may seem impervious to pain. Immobilizing the entire limb ensures that no further damage is caused to the injured shoulder and keeps the shoulder in one spot as it heals.

Elastic waterproof veterinary bandaging as well as combine roll are two specialty items that can be found at veterinary-supply warehouses, nursing-supply stores and occasionally pet stores.

If applied properly, a Velpeau sling can be left in place for up to 10 days.

Check the paw and toes daily to ensure that they appear normal and healthy. Discoloration of the nails, swelling or discoloration of the skin or a foul odor may all indicate that the bandaged limb is not receiving proper circulation. In the event of improper circulation, the sling may need to be re-applied.

In veterinary medicine there is rarely a reason or way to effectively splint a dog's shoulder. Instead, a method of wrapping the shoulder, so it is constantly in a flexed position is used. This method, called a Velpeau sling, prevents the dog from bearing weight upon his leg and causing further damage to an already injured shoulder. Fractures as well as dislocations can be tended by using a Velpeau sling immediately after the fracture or dislocation has been properly treated by a licensed veterinarian.


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Step 1

Position the dog in a standing position with the injured shoulder easily accessible to you. If the dog is excitable or in too much pain, you may need another person to help you hold the dog.

Step 2

Place a roll of cotton padding between injured shoulder and body of the dog. The amount of cotton padding is dependent upon the size of the dog. A smaller dog will require less padding. You should place an amount of cotton padding sufficient enough that the elbow and body of the dog cannot possibly touch.


Step 3

Flex the leg of the dog that is connected to the injured shoulder, so it is bent. The dog's leg should look like the letter "Z" turned on its side.

Step 4

Wrap a layer of combine wrap around the flexed leg, starting at the dog's chest. You should have enough combine wrap to comfortably circle the dog's thorax three and a half times. Continue wrapping the combine roll beneath the flexed leg, just behind the paw. Encircle the "wrist" of the dog's leg, and continue to roll the bandage up and over the dog's shoulder region.


Step 5

Pass the combine roll behind the armpit region of the other forelimb, beneath the chest of the dog and across the flexed wrist muscle.

Step 6

Unwrap more of the combine roll, making another pass over the dog's shoulders and behind the opposite front leg.


Step 7

Wrap the combine roll behind the elbow joint of the injured limb. Continue over the shoulders and wrap in front of the uninjured forelimb and around the front of the dog's chest.

Step 8

Apply elastic, water-resistant veterinary bandaging around the dog's leg, thorax, chest and wrist in such a manner that it would be impossible for her to slide out of the finished sling. This varies by the size of the dog and how much stabilization is needed.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.