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How to Care for a Dog Wound

Not every cut or graze your dog gets requires veterinary care, but you do need to know how to care for your dog's wounds, and when you should head to the vet. Here, our Beacon emergency vets provide tips on how to care for your dog's wounds at home.

Dogs Have Accidents Too

Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog can have an accident that results in a cut, graze, or another 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 a wound appears 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

Putting Together Your Canine 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 for suitable for dogs
  • Sterile bandages
  • Self-adhesive bandages
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towels or rags

Providing First Aid to Your Pup

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

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.

Place a Muzzle on Your Dog

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 practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury occurs so that your dog is comfortable with the process and the muzzle's feel. This will help to avoid aggravating your pup's distress.

Check For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound

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 your Dog's Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, you can rinse it in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to remove any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body, you can gently run clean water over the wound 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 The Bleeding

Apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel if nothing is stuck in it. While most minor wounds will stop bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds will most likely take longer. Within 10 minutes of applying pressure, the bleeding should stop. If your dog is still bleeding after that, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Bandage Your Dog's Wound

If you have antibacterial ointment on hand, apply a small amount to the wound before covering it with sterile gauze or another bandage. Products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids should be avoided. To keep the gauze in place, use a self-adhesive elastic bandage.

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Area

If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar.

What are the healing stages of a dog wound?

The following lists the four stages of dog wound healing. For pictures, simply use your favorite search engine and compare them to your dog's wound.

1. Inflammation

To limit blood loss in the wound area, blood clots are forming and blood vessels are constricting. This is the first stage of healing, and it focuses on bleeding control and immune system activation. This process also requires the immune system to "clean up" cells to address contaminating bacteria and any dead tissue.

2. Debridement

Wound fluid, dead tissue, and immunologic cells combine to form pus, which is designed to flow as a liquid from the wound and carry debris with it. The cells that were drawn to the wound during the inflammation phase are now actively working on consuming dead tissue and cleansing the area.

3. Repair

The wound will actually shrink as a result of a process known as "wound contraction," allowing new skin to form and cover it. Collagen begins to fill in the wound to bind the torn tissues together, and new blood vessels form.

4. Maturation

The final stage of scarring can form once enough collagen has been deposited. Scar tissue will never be as strong as uninjured tissue, but it should eventually reach 80% of its original strength.

Can cold laser therapy help with wound healing?

Yes, it can! Laser therapy encourages cell regeneration and increases circulation, which in turn increases the wound healing rate. It can also reduce inflammation and swelling. Several other conditions have been shown to improve with the use of laser therapy including muscle and joint pain, arthritis symptoms, and muscle spasms.

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 has a wound in need of veterinary care, contact The Beacon Veterinary Associates right away.

Now Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at The Beacon Veterinary Associates are now accepting new patients! Our experienced team of veterinary professionals are passionate about giving the cats and dogs of Beacon the health care they need. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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