The Revision Guide for Student Nurses (Part I)

Robert Jones Dressing - Practical Task


The Robert Jones dressing is commonly used in small animal practice and is a useful orthopaedic support bandage that may be used in a first aid situation or following surgery.


  • Assistant to reassure and restrain the patient.
  • Scissors.
  • Zinc oxide tape or adhesive tape such as Elastoplast (usually 2.5cm).
  • One to two rolls of cotton wool (depending on the size of patient).
  • Conforming bandage (the type chosen is a matter of preference).
  • Conforming cohesive tape such as Coflex (although not truly a Robert Jones bandage, some people substitute cohesive tape for elastoplast).


  1. Ask the assistant to reassure and restrain the patient.
  2. Gather together all the necessary equipment.
  3. Approach the patient in a calm and quiet manner, talking gently prior to accustoming the animal to your touch.
  4. Establish that you are dressing the correct limb!
  5. Cut 2 strips of 2.5cm zinc oxide tape (or Elastoplast) that are slightly longer than the length required to cover the metacarpal/metatarsal region of the foot.
  6. Apply these strips longitudinally to the dorsal and palmar/plantar surfaces of the metacarpals/metatarsals - these strips are known as traction tapes or stirrups and serve to prevent the dressing from slipping.
  7. Wrap 4-5 layers of cotton wool around the limb.
  8. Conform the padding material to the limb, expelling air from the large amount of cotton wool. If sufficient cotton wool is used it will be impossible to place the conforming layer too tightly. Begin distally at the toes and work proximally in order to help prevent vascular constriction distally (overlap by half the bandage width).
  9. Twist and reflect the traction tapes upwards over the bandage and stick down.
  10. Incorporate the traction tapes into the dressing with the application of the tertiary layer (conforming cohesive tape); this provides protection and additional support.


  • Ensure that the bandage extends over the outside toes leaving the distal extremities of the 2 central digits exposed - this enables checks to be made on temperature, swelling and sensation.
  • It is important to incorporate the joints both above and below the fracture site into the dressing to provide maximum support.
  • Test that the padding has been adequately compacted by flicking the dressing; it should sound similar to that heard when testing a melon for ripeness.
  • The dressing may be left in place for some time (depending upon the instructions of the veterinary surgeon) providing it is kept clean and dry and does not cause discomfort to the animal.