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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 Cordova 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 can be treated by pet parents, others should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinary care is required for the following wounds:

  • 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

If your dog sustains a minor injury, having a pet first aid kit on hand and a little know-how can come in handy. The following are some items 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

In order to avoid infection, wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible. It is best to have someone help you restrain your dog and be generally supportive before beginning first aid on your dog.

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

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 he's used to the process and how the muzzle feels. 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 care 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.

Applying harsh cleaners, such as hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products, to your dog's skin can be painful and 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.

Ongoing Care

Check your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection does not set in and that healing is proceeding normally. Clean the wound twice a day with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution, and contact your veterinarian immediately if the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice increased redness, swelling, discharge, increased pain in the wound area, or a bad odor coming from the wound.

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 urgent veterinary care contact Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital right away.

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