Not every cut or graze your dog gets requires veterinary care, but it's important to know how to care for dog wounds and when it's time to head to the vet. Today, our Rabun Animal Hospital team provides dog wound care tips for at-home care.
Accidents Happen - Even to Dogs
Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog may be involved in an accident that results in a cut, graze, or other injury requiring medical attention. That said, some seemingly minor wounds can develop into serious infections, so if in doubt about whether to take your dog to the veterinarian, it's always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as a wound develops can save your dog a great deal of pain and you a great deal of money.
Wounds That Require Veterinary Care
While some dog wounds can be treated at home some wounds should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Wounds that require veterinary care include:
- Animal bites (these may look small but become infected very very quickly)
- Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often occurs during dog fights)
- A wound with a large object lodged in it (ie: a piece of glass)
- Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
- Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties
Putting Together Your Doggie First Aid Kit
Having a pet first aid kit on hand, and a little know-how can be helpful if your dog has a minor injury. Below are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Sterile bandages
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Bandage scissors
- Spray bottle
- Clean towels or rags
Administering First Aid to Your Pooch
To avoid infection, wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible. Before administering first aid to your dog, it's a good idea to have someone assist you with restraint and general support.
If you are unsure what to do or whether your pet requires veterinary care, keep in mind that it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your animal's health. When in doubt, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian.
Muzzle Your Dog
A fearful, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you are tending to the wound, which is why our team recommends muzzling your injured pooch before initiating first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice muzzling your dog before an injury to acclimate your dog to the process and feel of the muzzle. This will assist in avoiding aggravating your pup's distress.
Check For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound
Look for any foreign objects or debris that may have become lodged in the wound. This is especially important if the wound is on your dog's paw pad and they may have stepped on something sharp. If the object is easily removed with tweezers, remove it gently. If the object is deeply embedded, leave it alone and call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian immediately.
Clean the Wound
If the wound is on your dog's paw, you could care for it by swishing the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to help rinse out any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body you can place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and gently run clean water over the wound. You may want to add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.
Avoid using harsh cleaners on your dog's skin, such as hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products, as these can be painful or even cause the wound to heal more slowly.
As long as nothing is stuck in the wound, apply pressure with a clean towel. While the majority of small wounds will cease bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds will likely take longer. Within ten minutes of applying pressure, bleeding should cease. If your dog continues to bleed after that time, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately.
Contain Your Dog's Wound
If you have antibacterial ointment on hand, dab a small amount onto the wound before covering it with sterile gauze or another bandage. Avoid products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroid hormones. To secure the gauze in place, use a self-adhesive elastic bandage.
Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Wound
If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar.
Your dog's wound should be monitored at least twice daily to ensure that no infection develops and that healing is proceeding normally. Clean the wound twice daily with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution; contact your veterinarian immediately if the wound becomes inflamed or exhibits signs of infection.
If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, increasing pain in the area of the wound, or a bad odor coming from the wound, contact your vet right away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.