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.

The Dry Cast When Bathing Method

Effective
0 Votes
Shampoo
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Remove cast if removable
If your dog has a removable cast, or is having his cast changed, carefully remove the cast, lift your dog, and support his injured limb in the bath. Wash and rinse carefully so no residue remains. Dry your dog thoroughly with a blow dryer and allow to cool before putting the cast back on.
Step
2
Purchase cast protector
Purchase a waterproof cast protector. Available online, from veterinarians, and some pet supply shops, these products come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are designed to fit securely over a cast and stay secured during washing.
Step
3
Make a cast protector
Make your own waterproof cast protector with a heavy plastic garbage bag or large freezer bags. Grocery bags have thin plastic and can rip easily, and may have holes so they are not waterproof. Wrap the top of your dog's cast with a cloth to avoid water getting down to the cast, and fasten the cloth or towel with painter's tape. Do not tape to your dog's fur or skin, but tape the cloth to the cloth to hold it in place. Put the plastic over your dog's leg and fasten with painters tape to itself, then wrap another cloth or towel over the plastic wrapped leg to provide extra protection, and fasten with tape.
Step
4
Enlist help to monitor
Have an assistant support the injured leg with the cast and watch that the protector does not slip off.
Step
5
Shower, don't immerse
Usually you will want to avoid immersing your dog in a bath. Instead put the protector on and stand your dog in a dry bath tub, use a handheld shower so you can control the amount of water the protector is exposed to. Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly, avoiding the protected leg and cast.
Recommend grooming method?

The Waterless Washing Method

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Slicker Brush
Step
1
Regular grooming
Brush your dog thoroughly every day to remove tangles and debris, and avoid the need for a bath, or cleaning with water as much as possible. If your dog has a cone on to keep him from interfering with his cast, take the cone off, and supervise him while you allow him to clean himself.
Step
2
Dry shampoo
Dry shampoos are available for purchase at pet shops, or you can make your own dry shampoo by sprinkling your dog with baking soda and cornstarch. Get the powder right onto the skin, allow to sit on your dog for a few minutes, and then brush out.
Step
3
Waterless shampoo
Try a waterless shampoo, also available at pet stores. These are a little different then dry shampoos, in that they are usually rubbed into the coat and are then wiped, or brushed off.
Step
4
Sponge bathe
To sponge bathe your dog, wet him dog down with a wet cloth, avoiding the casted area. Apply some shampoo as necessary, paying special attention to soiled areas. Lather carefully, then wipe off with a wet cloth. Dry your dog to avoid contamination of the cast with moisture. You can wrap the cast in cling wrap to give added protection to the cast from water while sponge bathing.
Step
5
Commercial wipes
Use baby wipes or pet wipes to spot clean your dog.
Recommend grooming method?

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

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