First broadcast on  

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Casts or splints are often applied to animal patients , but the support needs to be looked after.

Casts ( made from Plaster of Paris, or a more modern material) and splints are often applied to veterinary patients for the treatment of bone fractures, dislocations or other injuries, or following surgical repair of an orthopaedic problem. It is important that the external support is looked after properly otherwise :

  • Healing may be delayed
  • Healing may not occur
  • Blood supply to the leg can be cut off

Owners should ensure the following :

  • The support is kept dry - a plastic bag can be tied over the support to protect it when the animal goes outside
  • The support is kept clean - again a plastic bag is useful to protect it when the animal goes outside
  • Exercise should be restricted to a cage, run or lead walks until the injury has healed properly - otherwise excess movement may delay healing.
  • The support should be protected from damage (eg chewing) by the animal - an elizabethan collar may be needed for this
  • The support should be checked 6 times a day (every 4 hours) to make sure that it has not loosened and slipped.
  • If the top of the support rubs on the skin talcum powder can be used to help prevent friction sores

The following abnormal signs should be looked for and reported to your veterinarian immediately :

  • Swelling of the leg above the support
  • Swelling of the toes
  • Pinch the toes - the animal should pull back it's foot in response 
  • Excessive discomfort from the support
  • A foul smell from the cast or splint
  • Discolouration of the cast or splint
  • Severe friction sores in the skin 
  • If the animal goes off it's food
  • If the animal is generally very quiet and depressed
  • If the animal develops a high body temperature

It is important to have the cast or splint examined by your veterinarian if any of the above changes occur, because blood supply to the leg can be affected and , in the worst cases, gangrene can occur.


Updated October 2013