Put an Ace Bandage on My Dog?                                            

We often put animals in what we call a bodywrap, using an ace-type bandage for dogs and larger cats, and soft elastic for tiny animals.  Since the animal in question has not sprained any part of its body, and we have not applied the wrap tight enough to even partially immobilize any body part, what do we have in mind?

Tellington TTouch, and other disciplines know that different body awareness, new neural input, can effect changes in a number of areas.  The different awareness brought about by wearing an ace bandage for a short time has been very helpful for animals that are afraid of thunder or loud noises, for shy animals, for over-reactive and hyper-reactive animals, for animals aggressive to other animals, for noisy animals, for animals suffering arthritis pain, and for animals who have healed from injury but are still protecting the injured body area.

Hmm, sounds a bit like snake oil:  good for whatever ails you!  Well, it does not help everything, but it can certainly help many things.  In Tellington TTouch we work with animals to help bring them into better physical, mental and emotional balance; which reduces and/or eliminates many problem behaviors.  Some of these behaviors are actually symptoms of an underlying problem, in the way coughs and sniffles can be symptoms of a cold.  When a wrap helps an animal to be in better physical balance, the mental and emotional balance frequently follow.

How do I do it?  The main thing to remember is to wrap the tensor bandage loosely around your dog, making it just stretched enough to that it does not fall off.  A common wrap starts with the middle of the elastic going around the chest, both lengths crossing over the shoulders.  One end then wraps around the right hind leg, and the other around the left hind leg.  The two ends overlap over the loin and are fastened together by thing, clipping (with hair clips or barrettes) or pinning (with diaper pins).  Do not use the clips that come with the bandage.  Variations are limited only by your imagination (and what will stay on your dog or cat).  A very simple wrap, called a half-wrap, anchors around the fore chest and then joins around the ribs.  Often this is enough new input for your companion.  If your animal seems comfortable with this, you might want to include the hindquarters next time.

If, as your dog moves, the elastic stretches and begins to sag off his body, it means you have put it on with appropriate looseness.  It also means that you probably want to refasten it a bit more tightly.  Different structures and different coats affect the way the wrap stays in place.  Sometimes adding more fasteners can help.  Sometimes you may decide to redo all or part of the wrap to better fit him. 

You might also try a t-shirt for your dog or cat.  Put it on backwards from the way a person would wear it.  The baby t’s that snap closed are good for small animals.  For a larger animal, you can bring up the excess bottom of the shirt by knotting it next to the spine, or gathering it in a rubber band.

How long do I leave it on?  Watch your dog or cat’s response. If she seems uncomfortable, take the wrap (T) off.  You have provided new information to the nervous system even in a very brief time.  Often it is only the unfamiliarity that makes your buddy uncomfortable, and the second time you put a wrap on her, the response is rather like, “oh, yeah this again.”

The more change you see in your animal’s movement, the less time you leave the wrap on.  This is because you don’t want the unfamiliar movement to lead to stiffness.  You can usually leave it on a little longer the next time you use it.  Typically 10 minutes is a good start.  If your dog is cool and lies down for a nap,  it is fine to leave it on during the nap—as long as you are paying attention to see that the wrap doesn’t snag on anything.  Remember that for much of Tellington TTouch, the elegant architectural statement is applicable:  “Less is more.”

For the dog afraid of thunder, wearing a wrap when the weather if fine can help the next storm to seem less frightening.  Your dog doesn’t have to be IN the problem situation to benefit from the body wrap


© Frances Smith 2012