How to Wash a Dog With a Cast

Medium
10 - 30 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Scooter is not scooting anymore. The big, bouncy, Golden Retriever was running loose in the ravine behind his owner's house one day, when he took a tumble and fell down a steep embankment that he did not realize was there, as it was covered in brush. Scooter came limping home and was immediately rushed to the vet. It turned out, Scooter fractured his front leg, and because he is so rambunctious, he had to have a cast put on to immobilize the leg until it heals properly. But his family did not have a chance to bathe him before his accident, and he isn't smelling any better a week later! Plus, because he can't run around outside as much, he is in the house more, where his smell is really starting to bother his people. The veterinarian advised Scooter’s owners to keep the cast dry, so how are they going to give Scooter a bath?! 

Casts can become structurally compromised when wet. They are supposed to provide rigid support to the affected limb, and water softens materials and causes them to come loose. Fortunately, there are a few options to wash Scooter and keep his cast intact.

Dog's Perspective

An injured dog with a cast on his leg may not be very happy about his condition. He may be grumpy if he is experiencing discomfort from the injury, or the cast itself, or he may be full of excess energy he can't burn off, because of reduced mobility. On top of that, you need to take extra precautions to keep a cast dry when washing your dog, which can be even more challenging. You are both going to need some patience, and maybe some rewards to help this process go a little smoother.

Caution & Considerations

  • Water can damage the material that gives casts their structural integrity to support an injured limb, so avoid getting them wet.
  • If you remove a cast to bathe, make sure the limb is supported and lift your dog gently into the bathing area.
  • Have an assistant available to help you handle and lift your dog for washing, and make sure measures to protect casts from water stay in place.
  • Remember to avoid eyes, ears, and mouth while also avoiding the casted limb,  it is easy to forget these areas when focusing on the injured limb.
  • Dry your dog to avoid moisture getting on the cast.  

Conclusion

If you've ever had a cast on you know that washing with one can be a bit of a challenge. It can be even more of a challenge when washing your dog, since he does not know why his cast cannot get wet and may resist your waterproofing attempts. Have an assistant help hold your dog and make sure protection methods stay in place. An assistant can also help distract a grumpy dog and support an injured limb during bathing or if your dog is quite large, you may need help to lift him into the washing area, as he will be unable to jump. Alternatively, waterless washing is also a good option; there are several products available commercially to help you with this, or you can make your own dry shampoo or give your dog a sponge bath! Be patient, this process may take a little longer than normal. Set aside time so you won't be rushed.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Lola
Yorkshire Terrier
8 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Lola
Yorkshire Terrier
8 Years

Lola got a fractured leg one night trying to jump on the bed. She’s had her cast for about 6 weeks now, but she was due for a grooming right around the time she got her fracture. Can she get groomed with her leg badged up this way. She had all her shots. She actually had just gotten her updated vaccination before her accident, to be groomed.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. Sorry to hear of Lola's accident! Grooming should not be an issue; the groomer can always use a dry shampoo this time or do a sponge bath to make sure that the cast does not get wet. Alternatively, if the cast is due to come off soon, you could wait. It is good that Lola is up to date vaccnination-wise. All the best to you and little Lola!

Thank you for your recommendation. I appreciate it, as it can be stressful trying to figure out how to best care for a pet.

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