Do dogs ever get fitted with casts?

April 13, 2012

Propped up by crutches, the dog with a woebegone expression has a heavily bandaged head. Adhesive plasters make crisscrossing marks on the dog’s body. One hind leg is in a cast. Disaster! Actually, the dog that seemed to have a clash with a steamroller is a cartoon character that yet again had been the recipient of the mean antics of its archenemy, the cat. Dogs in real life would not be capable of using crutches but for sure these animals can be fitted with casts.

A cast is a most effective method used in treating fractures and in repositioning bones. In order to heal properly, a broken bone needs rest and support. A cast is an orthopedic remedy that has been used in humans since the 1800s. Orthopedic casts are now widely used in canines and in other animals. Veterinary medicine has improved tremendously over the years. Animal lovers would be very glad to know that human medical and surgical procedures have a corresponding procedure in animals. Dogs are high energy animals. Dogs love to roam thus accidents that can cause fractures and traumas are most common. Injuries will result from falls, human abuse and from skirmishes with dogs and other animals. Broken bones are common injuries sustained by a dog kicked by a horse. Being hit by a car is a most common cause for broken bones. Repeated stress on an already weak bone is a common cause for bone injuries in athletic breeds. A dog owner can never be more careful as accidents can happen even inside the home or in a car. A dog can fall off from a table and sustain broken bones.

An orthopedic cast is a shell made from cotton or bandages soaked with plaster of Paris. The bandage will be wrapped around the injured area and in minutes, the bandage will harden to form a protective layer around the injured limb. Different bone fractures would need different treatments but the main goal is to restore the function of the bone. This can be done by repairing, realigning or reuniting the bones. A cast is one good way of stabilizing a fracture as this procedure would not need invasive surgical procedures. The cast will hold the broken bone in place and because mobility is restricted pain will be reduced and healing will be facilitated.

Casts can only be used in limited cases. Some broken bones are too complicated and a cast would be ineffective in stabilizing the fractures. A cast applied the wrong way can create more harm than good. A too tight cast would cut the circulation of the blood. Bones take a while to heal properly. A cast is used to keep the injured body part motionless while healing. Unlike humans, dogs would not know how to care for the cast. The cast must be kept from getting wet, soiled and damaged. However, dogs are very energetic animals an injury fitted with a cast would not prevent the dog from playing on wet grass or splashing in puddles. Some dog owners would let the pet use a cast protector. A cast protector would be an additional expense thus some owners would use plastic trash bags that would provide the same protection. Because of the inclination to chew, the cast would not be saved from the destructive teeth of the dog. An Elizabethan collar would prevent the dog from chewing the cast. A cast would be cumbersome. A dog owner has to make the home safe for the dog. And more importantly, the dog must be brought to the vet if discoloration of the injured limb or a foul odor from the cast is noticed.

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