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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 Mankato vets share some advice for pet 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 that results in a cut, graze, or other injury requiring first aid. However, 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.

Common Types of Wounds

The most common types of dog wounds include lacerations, puncture wounds, and abrasions. Lacerations are deep cuts or tears in the skin that may require stitches, while puncture wounds are caused by sharp objects piercing the skin. Abrasions are superficial scrapes that can result from friction or minor trauma. It is important to promptly clean and treat any dog wound to prevent infection and promote proper healing.

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 (such as 2% chlorhexidine)
  • Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
  • Sterile bandages
  • Self-adhesive bandages
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towels or rags

How To Treat Dog Wounds At Home

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 restain your pup and be generally supportive.

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

Muzzle Your Dog For Safety

Our team recommends that you muzzle your injured dog before beginning first aid treatment because a scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you try to help. It's a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle before an injury happens, so he's familiar with the procedure and how the muzzle feels. This will help to alleviate your dog's discomfort.

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 with warm water to remove dirt and debris. If your dog's wound is located elsewhere on his body, gently run clean water over it while he is in a sink, bath, or shower. To the water, 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. The process for wound healing in dogs is as follows:

  • 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. If you want to speed up the process somewhat, try and keep the wound as dry and as clean as possible.

Does cold laser therapy work on dogs?

Yes. Pet laser therapy has been deemed safe and effective by the veterinary industry. It can be used to treat a variety of diseases, injuries, and conditions, including tissue injuries (including strains and sprains) and arthritis.

We often use it to supplement other treatment options to give our pet patients an improved outcome.

As for benefits, laser therapy can

  • Enhance circulation
  • Decrease nerve sensitivity
  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Speed the healing process

In addition, laser therapy does not have any negative side effects and no sedation is required. We also do not need to clip or shave the area being treated.

Continued Care Through Recovery

Check your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection does not develop and that normal healing is taking place. If the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection, clean it twice a day with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution and contact your veterinarian right away.

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, contact River Hills Pet Care Hospital right away.

Compassionate Veterinary Care

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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