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Dog Wound Care: Complete Guide

Not all cuts or scrapes your dog experiences will need veterinary attention. Understanding how to care for your dog's wounds properly is essential. In this article, our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets provide tips on caring for your dog's wounds at home.

Dogs Have Accidents Too

Sometimes, the calmest and most easygoing dogs can encounter accidents that can lead to cuts, scrapes, or other injuries that demand immediate attention. While some wounds may appear minor, they can lead to severe infections. If you're unsure whether your dog needs veterinary care, it's prudent to prioritize caution. Seeking veterinary assistance promptly can spare your furry friend significant discomfort and save you money.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

Although 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:

  • A wound with a large object lodged in it (ie: a piece of glass or nail)
  • 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)
  • 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

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 in case your dog gets hurt.

  • Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
  • Muzzle 
  • Soap or cleaning solution
  • Antimicrobial ointment 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 immediately 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 a pet emergency clinic immediately.

Place a Muzzle on Your Dog

In instances where a dog feels scared, anxious, or in pain, there's a risk of them biting while receiving assistance. That's why our team advises using a muzzle on your injured dog before administering first aid. It's beneficial to familiarize your dog with wearing a muzzle beforehand, ensuring they are accustomed to the process and the sensation, which can mitigate their distress during an emergency.

Check For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound

Inspect the wound for any foreign objects or debris, particularly if it's on your dog's paw pad and they may have stepped on something sharp. If you can safely remove the object using tweezers, do so with care. However, if the object is deeply embedded, refrain from attempting to remove it yourself. Instead, contact your veterinarian or an animal emergency animal vet without delay.

Clean your Dog's Wound

If the wound is located on your dog's paw, you can gently swish the injured paw in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to help cleanse away any dirt and debris. For wounds elsewhere on your dog's body, you can place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and softly run clean water over the affected area. Adding a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water can aid in cleaning.

Avoid using harsh cleaners or applying hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog's skin, as these can cause pain and potentially prolong the healing process of the wound.

Control The Bleeding

If there is nothing stuck in the wound, apply pressure using a clean towel. While most small wounds will stop bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds will likely take longer. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying 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 other bandage. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place. 

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Area

If your pet is trying to lick the wound, it may be a good idea to have your dog wear an e-collar.

Ongoing Care

Your dog's wound should be checked 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, and contact your vet immediately if the wound becomes inflamed and 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.

Stages Of Wound Healing in Dogs

Inflammation - Starts right away

The first phase of healing is all about controlling bleeding and getting the immune system working. Without going into too much detail, blood clots are forming and blood vessels are constricting to limit blood loss in the area of the wound.

Debridement - Starts within a couple of hours

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

Repair - Starts within a few days

Collagen starts the process of binding the torn tissue together within the wound. This healing phase typically spans a few weeks. Meanwhile, new blood vessels gradually extend into the wounded area from nearby uninjured vessels. As the healing progresses, the edges of the wound generate "granulation tissue," characterized by its moist pink appearance, which ultimately contributes to the filling of the wound.

Maturation - Starts in two weeks and can take months to years

Once plenty of collagen has been deposited, the final phase of scarring can form. The scar becomes stronger and stronger over time as new blood vessels and nerves grow in and the tissue reorganizes. The final result will never be as strong as un-injured tissue but should ultimately achieve approximately 80% of the original strength.

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.

Contact our Hattiesburg and Wiggins animal emergency hospital today if your dog is injured and in need of wound care by a veterinarian.

New Patients Welcome

Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals big and small. Get in touch today to book an in-house or on-farm appointment with our experienced vets.

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