Even accidents can involve even the most laid-back and relaxed dog, resulting in a cut, graze, or other injury that requires first aid. However, serious infections can be caused by even minor wounds, 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 you notice 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.
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Sterile bandages
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Bandage scissors
- 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 restain your pup and be generally supportive.
If you are unsure what to do or if your pet requires veterinary care, always remember to err on the side of caution when it comes to your animal's health. If you are in doubt, you should 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 are attempting to help. Getting your dog used to wearing a muzzle before an injury occurs is a good idea, so he can become familiar with the process and how the muzzle feels. Avoiding exacerbating your pup's discomfort will help.
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
You can remove any dirt and debris from your dog's paw by rinsing it in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water. You can gently run clean water over your dog's wound if it is somewhere else on his body by placing your dog in a sink, bath, or shower. You can 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
Apply pressure with a clean towel if nothing is stuck in the wound. Most minor wounds will stop bleeding within a few minutes, but larger wounds may require more time to stop bleeding. Applying pressure should stop the bleeding within 10 minutes. Contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital right away if your dog continues to bleed.
Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage
Before covering the wound with sterile gauze or another bandage, apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment if you have it on hand. You should avoid products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Keep the gauze in place by using 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
Ensure that you check your dog's wound at least twice a day to prevent infection from developing and to ensure that normal healing is taking place. Clean the wound twice a day with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution and contact your veterinarian right away if it becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection.
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.