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.
COMMON TYPES OF DOG WOUNDS AND HOW THEY'RE TREATED
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
SUPPLIES TO KEEP ON HAND FOR DOG WOUND CARE
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.
What Should I Clean My Dog's Wound With?
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.
STEP-BY-STEP WOUND CARE FOR DOGS AT HOME
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 TO CALL THE VET AND HOW THEY CAN HELP
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
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.
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