Step by Step Wound Care at Home

As much as a pet parent tries to protect their furry friends, sometimes accidents happen. On the occasion-during rigorous play, when interacting with other dogs, or in many other possible scenarios-dogs become injured.


Here are some essential things to know about how to care for dog wounds and when to call the vet so your fur kids can heal and feel better as quickly as possible.



A wound is an injury where the skin (and possibly other body tissue) is damaged. Closed wounds include bruising, while open wounds involve bleeding or openings in the skin.

Dog wounds might include cuts, scrapes, burns, bites, hot spots, and more ranging mild to severe. Care plans are variable and depend on precisely what the wound needs to heal best and avoid complications.


Here Are Some Examples Of The Types Of Wounds A Dog Might Experience

  • Minor cuts and abrasions
    • Minor lacerations (cuts) or abrasions (scrapes) are dogs' most common injuries.
    • Potential causes include a sharp object (a branch or fencing) that catches the skin as a dog runs by, stumbles or collisions during enthusiastic play, walking on abrasive terrain, etc.
  • Large or deep cuts
    • Deep cuts penetrate further through the skin, potentially damaging tissue or organs underneath.
    • The more open or deep a wound is, the higher the complication risk and the more veterinary care is required. Some wounds may require sutures (stitches) to heal properly.
  • Bite and puncture wounds
    • Although they may appear small, bite and puncture wounds can be some of the most severe wounds veterinarians treat. Often, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg.
    • One possible risk is infection. Sharp teeth or objects can deposit bacteria into a wound. Although the skin heals, the infection brews underneath, resulting in a sick pet or a wound that swells and bursts.
    • Small-but-deep wounds (bites, gunshots, sharp objects, etc.) over the thorax (chest) or abdomen can also cause damage to internal organs. Often but not initially apparent, this damage can cause more severe complications.
    • While rare, Rabies disease is life-threatening to humans and pets following animal bites, particularly from wild animals or pets whose vaccination status is unknown. Your vet can advise you of any risks and guide you on the next steps. Always keep your pet's vaccinations up to date, too!
  • Hot spots
    • Hot spots are moist shallow wounds from a dog licking its skin repeatedly. Common causes are skin allergies, skin injuries, or stress.
    • These wounds are usually not serious but uncomfortable and can get worse or become infected without treatment.
  • Burns
    • Burns occur when heat damages the skin.
    • Common causes include kitchen or grilling accidents, candles or flames, or other heat sources-even sunburn.
  • Surgical wounds
    • Until a surgical incision is healed, it is likely to open or become infected if not properly monitored and cared for.



First aid kits can help a dog owner, prepared-especially for wounds that happen after hours when the pharmacies are closed. They are also great to take along when traveling with your pup.

Here are some essential items in a doggy first aid kit, specifically for wound care.

  • A muzzle that prevents your dog from biting but is loose enough that your pal can breathe and pant comfortably. Basket-style muzzles are an excellent option.
  • A wound-cleaning solution (see below for recommendations)
  • A large syringe to spray the cleaning solution, or a clean bowl for soaking
  • Clean towels
  • A water-based lubricant, like KY Jelly
  • Electric clippers
  • Bandaging supplies, including.
    • Sterile gauze or dressing
    • Cotton roll or bandage padding
    • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers in case of splinters or other forigen material
  • Antimicrobial ointment


What Should I Clean My Dog's Wound With?



  • Non-stinging antiseptic solutions are ideal. Look for 2% chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine.
  • Epsom salt soaks work for some wounds, especially paw injuries. Warm tap water is also acceptable for rinsing a wound in a pinch.
  • Avoid alcohol (it burns!) and hydrogen peroxide, which can slow wound healing. Also, avoid substances like herbal products unless specifically recommended by your vet.
  • For wounds near the eyes, povidone-iodine is ideal. Chlorhexidine can damage the eyes.

What Should I Put On My Dog's Wound?


Triple Antibiotic ointment works well. Other antimicrobial ointments designed for pets (silver sulfadiazine or Manuka honey) can also help with minor wounds.

Hydrocortisone or similar creams are not recommended for wounds like cuts. But they might be effective for an itchy hot spot.


Is It Okay If My Dog Licks The Wound?

No-this is not recommended. A dog's licking might interfere with the healing process by reopening the wound, making it worse, or introducing infection.

Use an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent your dog from licking. Protective clothing like a t-shirt or wound cover designed for dogs can also help but might not be a strong enough barrier if your pup is determined to lick.



Any wound-even simple ones-can turn serious if infections or other complications develop. Continually monitor the wound's healing process and seek veterinary care if things seem wrong.

Never give medication to your dog without prior veterinary approval. Many are toxic to dogs or cause additional complications.



With That In Mind, Here Is The Process For Dog Wound Care At Home

Step 1: Secure the animal

Even the sweetest pets might bite when in pain, so a muzzle is a good idea; gentle but firm restraint prevents wiggling and allows for proper wound assessment and treatment without additional injuries. Minor discomfort is to be expected. A pet repeatedly struggling and trying to bite might mean they are too painful, and a veterinary visit would be better.

Step 2: Assess the Wound

Is there a scrape or cut? A puncture or bite? Is there bleeding? Knowing what you are dealing with helps determine appropriate wound care and whether a veterinary visit is needed (see below).

Step 3: Stop the Bleeding

Direct pressure is the most effective way to stop bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop, veterinary care is needed. A pressure wrap can be placed to slow bleeding and prevent further wound contamination on the way to the veterinary hospital. Place bandage gauze or a clean cloth over the area. Apply pressure with your hand or wrap with a cotton roll and secure the padding in place with elastic bandage wrap.

Step 4: Trim Away Surrounding Hair

Fur removal allows you to see the wound and keep it clean. Otherwise, fluid, blood, or debris can accumulate in the fur around a wound, sometimes covering the wound entirely, which invites bacteria to settle in and cause problems. It also makes monitoring difficult. To prevent this, start by placing KY lube over the wound. The gel traps little pieces of fur, making them easier to wash away. Next, shave or trim the fur surrounding the wound using electric clippers. Fur does not need to be trimmed to the skin but close to it. Quiet clippers designed for pets are ideal, but human hair trimmers can also work. Use a protective guard and check the blades do not overheat. Avoid scissors. They are a common cause of accidental cutting of a pet's skin.

Step 5: Flush and Clean the Wound

Cleaning removes both visible and microscopic debris, as well as bacterial contamination. See above for recommended cleaning solutions. Rinse or soak the affected area.

Step 6: Treat and Cover the Wound

Place antibiotic ointment on the area, then apply a sterile gauze pad. Wrap the area with a soft cotton roll (especially for a limb, tail, or paw injury-this might be challenging with wounds on the torso). Then place an elastic wrap or adhesive tape. Pressure should be firm enough to slow bleeding and keep the bandage in place but not so tight it causes pain or cuts off circulation to the area.

Step 7: Provide Ongoing Daily Care and Monitoring

Check the wound at least once daily. Ensure the bandage is in place, dry, clean, and undamaged with no signs of cutting off circulation (for example, discoloration, coldness, or swelling of the limb/paw beyond the bandage). Clean the wound 1-3 times daily and place a clean bandage. Prevent your dog from licking or scratching the wound. Using an Elizabethan collar can help with this. Always treat your pup kindly and patiently, and reward them with their favorite treat or special attention when they are suitable for their wound care.



When in doubt, be safe and seek a veterinary examination when unsure rather than potentially missing a severe issue.

Here are some general guidelines for when veterinary care is needed

  • Deep injuries or ones that fully penetrate the skin
  • Bleeding will not stop.
  • Your pet is overly stressed or struggling, or you are worried you might get bitten.
  • Deep puncture wounds, especially in the chest or abdominal area
  • Bite wounds
  • Injuries covering a large area of the body
  • Signs of infection: redness, swelling, excessive pain, red streaking in the skin, pus, excessive drainage, foul odors, discoloration, etc.
  • Cues that your dog is very ill or painful: limping, lethargy, fever, excessive crying, whining, etc.

A veterinarian will assess your dog's wound, provide appropriate pain relief, and discuss a treatment plan. Depending on the nature and severity of your pet's injury, this might include one or more of the following steps.


  • Wound cleaning and bandaging
  • Prescription medications for pain relief and treating infections
  • Topical ointments, sprays, creams, or washes
  • A bacterial culture to determine the most effective type of antibiotic
  • Sedation or general anesthesia for complete wound evaluation, decontamination, and surgical closure (sutures or stitches)
  • Sometimes, contaminated or infected wounds must be left open for drainage for several days.
  • Ongoing daily care and monitoring (as described above). Specific instructions depend on your individual pet's needs. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations, including follow-up visits and bandage changes.

Fortunately, with proper care, most dog wounds heal just fine! And your furry friend can return to running, playing, and cuddling quickly!

If you are not sure about care please call 925-866-8387

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