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How to Care for a Dog Wound

While injuries are fairly common among dogs and most will be small and manageable, there might be times when your dog will require a bit of extra care. Here, our Carrollton vets share some advice for dog wound care while at home, when you should consider seeing a vet, and how to speed up recovery.

Dog Wounds

Even the most relaxed and laid-back dog can be involved in an accident that results in a cut, graze, or other injury that necessitates first aid. However, even minor wounds can cause serious infections, so if you are unsure whether you should take your dog to the vet, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as he or she develops a wound can save both your dog and your money in the long run.

When Should You Seek Veterinary Care For a Dog Wound?

While some dog wounds may be cared for by pet parents, 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 if not treated)
  • 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 or nail)
  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
  • Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties

What You Should Include in 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.

  • Muzzle 
  • Soap or cleaning solution
  • Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
  • Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
  • Sterile bandages
  • Self-adhesive bandages
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towels or rags

How To Apply First-Aid to Your Dog's Wound

Wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible to avoid infections. Before beginning first aid on your dog, it is best to have someone to help you restrain your pup and be generally supportive.

If you are unsure what to do or whether your pet requires veterinary care, remember that it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your animal's health. If in doubt, call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian right away.

Muzzle Your Dog For Safety

Because a scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you are attempting to help, our team recommends muzzling your injured dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle before an injury occurs, so he's comfortable with the process and the muzzle's feel. This will help to prevent your pup's discomfort from worsening.

Examine the Wound For Any Foreign Object

Look for objects or debris that may be lodged in the wound. This is especially important care if the wound is on your dog's paw pad and they may have stepped on something sharp. If you can easily remove the object with tweezers, do so gently. If the object is lodged deeply, leave it and call your vet, or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Thoroughly Clean Your Dog's Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, rinse it in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to remove any dirt and debris. If your dog's wound is elsewhere on his body, you can gently clean it by placing him in a sink, bath, or shower. You could add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.

Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.

Control Your Dog's Bleeding

If nothing is stuck in the wound, use a clean towel to apply pressure. While most minor wounds stop bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds may require more time. After applying pressure for 10 minutes, the bleeding should stop. If your dog continues to bleed, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital.

Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage

Before covering the wound with sterile gauze or another bandage, dab a small amount of antibacterial ointment on it. Avoid products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. To keep the gauze in place, use a self-adhesive elastic bandage.

Deter 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.

The Stages of a Dog Wound Healing

There are four stages that your dog's wound will go through as it heals. They are:

  • Inflammation - The body slows blood flow and activates the immune system.
  • Debridement - Clean up, including removing dead cells and killing any bacteria.
  • Repair - Cells are building and repairing the damage using collagen.
  • Maturation - Collagen is reorganized and water is reabsorbed while the scar tissue forms.

If you need to, you can google 'dog wound healing stages' for pictures if you want to track the progress.

Continued Care Throughout Recovery

Check your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that no infection develops and that normal healing occurs. If the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection, clean it twice daily with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution and immediately contact your veterinarian.

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.

If your dog needs veterinary care for a wound or if you would like more information about cold laser therapy, contact Carroll County Animal Hospital right away.

New Patients Welcome

Carroll County Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Carrollton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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