Not every minor cut or scrape that your dog gets will require veterinary care, but knowing how to care for your dog's wounds is helpful. Here our New Iberia emergency vets provide tips on how to care for your dog's wounds at home, and when to head to the vet.
Dogs Have Accidents Too
Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog could experience an accident that leads to a cut, graze or other injury requiring first aid. That said, some wounds that may seem small can result in serious infections so if you are in doubt about whether you should take your dog to the vet, it's always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your canine companion to the vet for a wound as soon as it occurs could save your dog a lot of pain, and you a lot of money in the long run.
Wounds That Require Veterinary Care
While some dog wounds may be cared for by pet parents, there are also wounds that should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Wounds that require veterinary care include:
- Animals 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
Prepare A Canine First Aid Kit
Having a pet first aid kit 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-safe antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
- Antimicrobial ointment for suitable for dogs
- Sterile bandages
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Bandage scissors
- Spray bottle
- Clean towels or rags
Providing First Aid to Your Pup
Wounds should be cleaned and cared for quickly to avoid infections. Before beginning first aid on your dog, it is best to have someone to help you gently restain your pet and be backup if needed.
If you are unsure about what to do, or whether your pet needs veterinary care, remember that when it comes to your animal's health it is always better to err on the side of caution. When in doubt contact your vet, or an emergency vet immediately.
Consider A Muzzle For Anxious Dogs
A scared, anxious or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help which is why you may want to think about muzzling your hurt dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury arises so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent adding to your pup's distress.
Check The Wound For Foreign Objects
Look for objects or debris that may be 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 you are able to 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.
Clean The Wound
If the injury is on your dog's paw, you could gently rinse the wounded paw around in a bowl or bucket of clean warm water to help flush 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 carefully run clean warm water over the wound. You may want to add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, unscented dish soap or hand soap to the water.
Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other harsh or caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.
Control The Bleeding
If there is nothing adhered to or stuck inside the wound, apply pressure using a clean towel. Although most small wounds stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds are likely to take longer. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying appropriate pressure; if your dog is still bleeding after that time, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital right away.
Bandage Your Dog's Wound
If you have antibacterial ointment on hand you may want to apply a small amount to the area before covering the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or another bandage. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place.
Don't Let Your Dog Lick Their Wound
If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary for them to wear an E-collar (Elizabethan collar, or 'cone of shame')
Check on your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection doesn't set in and healing is proceeding as expected. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day, contact your vet immediately if the wound become inflamed and shows signs of infection.
If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, pain or a foul 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.