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Foot care: How to bandage a paw

8/25/2004

Injuries to the sporting dog can result from the rough terrain we ask them to navigate. While injuries to the skin usually heal easily, the pads often require significantly longer recovery times.

Bandages serve two important functions: they help protect the wound from weight-bearing forces, and they serve to protect and keep the wound area clean.

Being able to apply a bandage properly can facilitate healing, provide convenience, and keep the cost of care down when a pad is injured. Since it is better to show you how rather then tell how and I can't hop out of your computer, check out the how-to chart below.

Besides putting a bandage on too tight, letting a bandage get wet is probably the worst thing you can do. You must keep bandages dry at all costs. This means if your dog stays in a kennel you'll either need to make other arrangements or check the bandage several times a day. If its raining, you can slip a plastic bag over the foot for short periods, but don't leave it on all the time. If you do, you'll create a "sweat" wrap and suffocate the foot.

If the terrain you hunt on is especially rough or you are having a constant problem with paw cuts or sore feet, you may want to consider investing in some footwear for your pup. Specialty boots are available from many sources that you can try. Some are leather and some are neoprene with rubber soles similar to swimmer boots some divers wear.

The leather boots are more durable and may serve the upland dog well, where the neoprene is more suited for wet areas. To determine which work best in your hunting environment you'll have to try them for yourself. In addition to protecting the foot, sometimes an oversized pair will work well for keeping a paw bandage dry — and sometimes on at all.

Remember pad injuries usually take longer to heal than simple cuts do, because of this, keeping the canine athlete on its feet, all four of them, can sometimes be a challenge.

Step-by-step: How to bandage a paw

Step one: Be sure that paw and hair coat is dry. Moisture under a bandage will stink and damage their skin.

Step two: Apply any medicated ointments or salve to the wound area. I usually just put these on the gauze instead of trying to smear them on the dog — especially if the wound is tender.

Step three: Place a layer of gauze/sponge directly over the wound site.

Step four: Apply a layer of cushion — cast padding, roll cotton. This layer is very important to keep the bandage from getting too tight.

Step five: Apply a layer of stretch gauze. This holds your cotton in place.

Step six: Apply an outer covering — medical tape or stretchable wrap. This layer protects the under layers from wear and moisture.

Step seven: Apply tape to top ½ on bandage and ½ on hair coat to prevent slipping. Apply moderate pressure to ensure that tape sticks well.