Dogs Splint Keeps Coming Off: 6 Reasons and Tips to Keep Them On

A doctor helping an inquired dog in applying splint on its leg

Leg injuries, such as fractured bones, are fairly common among puppies and adult dogs. Although the healing process can be a bit long, broken bones can heal with proper care of the splinted leg for a specific period of time.

However, one common complaint that many pet parents are concerned about is that the dog splints keep coming off. This can happen for several common reasons, and there are various methods to keep it on and promote a healthy fracture healing process.

In today’s guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of those factors and what you can do to help your dog keep them on and recover properly. Let’s dive right in!

Are Dogs Splints and Bandages the Same Thing?

Although both of them are used to help dogs with leg injuries, splints and bandages are not exactly the same thing. 

Bandages are soft covers that are used to protect an injured area of the dog’s body. They’re made to be slightly flexible to allow your pooch to move around freely when they’re on.

On the other hand, dog splints are rigid, durable devices designed to provide support to an injured leg while immobilizing it for proper healing.

While both of them should stay on during the treatment period, splints must stay exactly where they are, which is why it’s critical to not let them slide off like bandages.

Keep in mind that you may also use both bandages and splints together in the case of a fracture wound. In that case, they both must stay in place.

6 Reasons Why Dog Splints and Casts Keep Coming Off

After splinting your dog’s limb, you may notice that it keeps sliding off from its original position even if you move it back to where it should be. In this section, we’ll discuss the main reasons behind this issue.

1. The Dog’s Legs Are Getting Thinner

This is one of the main reasons why dog splints end up sliding after some time. As previously established, dog splints and casts don’t only support the leg, but they also immobilize it to help the bones heal properly.

Since the muscles in that leg are not being used for some time, they’ll start to shrink, which is known as “muscle atrophy”. This is a normal phenomenon that happens when muscles stay inactive for a long time.

The rate of muscle thinning varies from one dog to another. If your dog’s legs start to shrink at a high rate, the splint will eventually become loose and keep sliding off its original position.

2. Overactivity

If your dog is extra energetic and likes to play and run around, keeping their dog splints on can be quite difficult.

Although splints are designed to restrict your dog’s movement, vets won’t wrap them too tight around your dog’s legs. 

Labrador dog play with its toy in a garden

This is because excessively tight splints can constrict blood vessels in the injured area, and therefore, slow down the healing rate and defeat the purpose of the splints. 

As a result, a consistently overactive dog that runs around with a splint can end up sliding off its original position. 

This can also happen when dogs move through uneven surfaces or use the stairs, so it’s better to keep your dog restricted to the bottom floor during the splinting period.

3. Chewing on the Splints

Since splints are designed to restrict the leg’s movement, many find it uncomfortable to move around with. As a result, dogs start to chew on those splints to try to get them off.

Even if they don’t get the splint completely off, chewing on the splint can damage its materials, which makes it loosely bound and slide off its original place.

While we want to keep our dogs as comfortable and happy as possible, keeping the dog splints on is quite essential for their healing process, so we should try to redirect their attention away from the splint. More about that in the following sections.

4. Moisture

You should keep your dog’s splint as dry as possible throughout the healing period. This doesn’t only include keeping your dog away from puddles and rain, but also preventing them from licking the splint.

In fact, moisture can cause a lot of problems with dog splints. For instance, since splints are usually made of plastic, fibreglass, and metal, moisture can weaken some of these materials and make the splint more likely to come off.

Additionally, when the internal parts of the splints get wet, they can cause irritation and inflammation. Not only that, but they can also promote fungal and bacterial infections that produce a foul smell.

As a result, your irritated dog will try harder to get the splint off, which negatively impacts the healing process.

5. The Splints Are Not the Right Size or Type

Dog breeds come in different size ranges, and therefore, what might work for one breed, may not work for the other one.

Since sizing is essential for keeping the dog splint stable, they’re available in a variety of sizes ranging from X-Small to X-Large.

Additionally, leg splints also come in various types. For example, braces can be designed to fit the front legs while others are designed to find the hind legs.

As such, if you don’t choose the right splint or reuse a splint from a different-sized dog, the splint may not fit properly, which causes them to come off with time.

6. The Splint Is Wrapped Too Loose

Lastly, if your dog doesn’t move around frequently, chew on the splints, or get them wet, there is a chance that the dog splint was not wrapped properly on your dog.

Of course, this is less likely to happen if the splint was put on by a qualified vet. However, some vets might wrap the splints a bit loose to keep the dog comfortable, especially if the dog doesn’t seem to move around a lot while injured.

In that case, you should contact your vet to realign the splint and wrap it a bit tighter.

How Long Should I Leave My Dog’s Splint on?

A standard dog splint should be typically left for around 2 to 4 weeks. However, this period can increase or decrease depending on various factors that the vet determines, such as the severity of the injury as well as the dog’s breed and ability to heal.

Unexpected factors like dog splints coming off prematurely can also extend how long the splint should stay on. 

That’s why you should contact the vet if the splint keeps coming off and you can’t identify the reason on your own.

Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Splint in Place and Heal Properly

Now that you know more about dog splints and the reasons why they may keep coming off, here are some helpful tips to speed up your dog’s recovery and keep the splint in place.

Check the Splint Daily 

Give your dog’s splint a round check once or twice a day to make sure it’s clean and dry. This can also help you detect sliding splints and the reasons behind them.

Close-up of splint being applied to dog's leg

Use a Restrictive Cone If Your Dog Keeps Bothering the Area

If your dog is stubborn and keeps licking or chewing on the splints, you’ll need an e-collar or a cone to restrict your dog’s access to the injured area. 

This doesn’t only protect the splint from chewing but also protects your dog from infections due to saliva.

Cover the Splint with a Plastic Bag During Bathroom Breaks

Depending on how your dogs do their business, they might end up getting the splint wet. The moisture can cause splints to slide off and develop skin infections, especially with urine.

Covering your dog’s splint during bathroom breaks will help you overcome this issue.

Buy Your Dog Some Toys to Keep Them Occupied

If your dog has a chewing habit, it might take out its discomfort and frustration on the splint. To avoid that, make sure that you buy your dog some new chewing toys to keep them occupied during the critical treatment period.

Restrict Your Dog’s Activity If Recommended By a Vet

Unless recommended otherwise by the vet, you should try to restrict your dog’s activity as much as possible during the healing period. 

For wandering puppies, you may want to use a crate or a box to keep them safe and prevent them from putting more pressure on their legs.

Use Healthy Dog Supplements to Speed Up Recovery

Lastly, you should try to make the healing period as quick and painless for your dog as possible.

The vet will typically prescribe treatments to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with the injury, but you should also inquire about food and supplements that can speed up bone recovery.

Proper Dog Splint Care to Keep it On

This marks the end of today’s guide about the different reasons why dog splints keep coming off. 

As you can see, this can happen for multiple reasons, including muscle atrophy, overactivity, moisture, or chewing on the splint. 

After keeping the splint on for weeks, your dog will be super excited to get back to walking properly. If you’re looking for reliable and trustworthy dog walkers, our team can help, so don’t forget to give us a call when your pooch is back on its feet!

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