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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 Jackson 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 laid-back and relaxed dog can be involved in an accident. Some common types of dog wounds include lacerations, puncture wounds, and abrasions. It is important to seek veterinary care for any dog wound to prevent infection and ensure proper healing. Even minor wounds can cause serious infections, so it is always best to err on the side of caution if you are unsure whether you should take your dog to the vet. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as a wound appears 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 (for example, 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 treated as soon as possible to prevent infection. Before you begin administering first aid to your dog, it is best to have someone present to help you restrain him and provide general support.

If you're not sure what to do or if your pet needs veterinary care, keep in mind that when it comes to your animal's health, it's always better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt, call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian right away.

Muzzle Your Dog For Safety

Our team recommends muzzling your injured dog before beginning first aid treatment because a scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you are attempting to help. It's a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle before an injury occurs, so he's used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to avoid exacerbating your pup's discomfort.

Examine the Wound For Any Foreign Object

Look for any objects or debris that could be lodged in the wound. This is especially important if the wound is on your dog's paw pad, as they could have stepped on something sharp. If you can easily remove the object with tweezers, do so carefully. If the object is deeply lodged, leave it and contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital right away.

Thoroughly Clean Your Dog's Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, you can care for it by removing any dirt and debris by rinsing it in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water. If your dog's wound is somewhere else on his body, you can gently run clean water over it by placing your dog in a sink, bath, or shower. To the water, you could add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap.

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 there is nothing stuck in the wound, apply pressure with a clean towel. Most minor wounds will stop bleeding in a few minutes, but larger wounds may take longer. The bleeding should stop within ten minutes of applying pressure. If your dog continues to bleed, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage

Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment to the wound before wrapping it in sterile gauze or another bandage if available. Avoid products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. To secure the gauze, apply 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. This can help identify possible infection, or it can help to make sure the wound is healing normally. If the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection, clean it twice daily with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution and contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you notice any redness, swelling, discharge, increased pain in the area of the wound, or a bad odor coming from the wound, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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 Northside Animal Clinic right away.

New Patients Welcome

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

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