I was out walking my dog Finzi this morning, and it was the usual mad chase through fields and ditches. She loves jumping into pools of water, and that’s probably where something went wrong.
She was walking normally but when I got back to the car, I noticed that she was leaving smudges of blood on the ground behind her. When I checked her feet, she had an obvious cut on the front of her back right foot – 1cm wide, around 5mm deep. She must have stood on a hidden piece of broken glass in the water somewhere. I thought I’d use this opportunity to show folk what to do if this happens at home.
It’s important to clean a cut to avoid infection and to promote healing. I used salty water (a teaspoonful of salt in a pint of warm water – see the tub on the bottom right of the picture) and then I sprayed it with Forever Living Aloe Vera Veterinary Spray.
I then applied a sterile non-adhesive dressing known as Melolin followed by a simple conforming bandage (I used Mollelast) to hold it in place. The big challenge with dogs is that they tend to remove dressings, and so they have to be attached as securely as possible. I used Tensoplast, which is an adhesive elastic bandage, to create “stirrups” that attach to her fur, then protrude out of the end of the dressing, then fold back onto the top of the dressing. It’s hard to describe in words, but basically it stops the dressing from slipping off easily.
I then used Tensoplast to wrap around the whole dressing. I have to add here that veterinary nurses do a far better job at bandaging than myself: I tend to be too impatient and in a hurry. So any vet nurses reading this: yes, I do know this is not perfect :-)
Once it’s done, the Tensoplast is cut off leaving the right length so that it can be finished off at the back of Finzi’s leg. When dogs start to chew dressings, if they can get their teeth onto that end piece, then can pull and pull, unravelling it. So if the end piece can be kept out of reach (i.e. at the back of the leg), they’re less likely to be able to get started and the dressing is more likely to stay on.
So the job is now done: it looks comfortable and secure. We need to keep it dry now, and will probably change it every 3 – 4 days if it stays on. The cut pad will probably take about 10 days to heal fully.
So far, Finzi has left her dressing alone. How long will that continue to be the case? If she does start to chew it, she may need an Elizabethan collar. Only time will tell.
This type of simple wound cleaning and dressing application is the type of home first aid that anyone should be able to do. The most difficult aspect is simply keeping the patient still, so it’s definitely a two-person job.