Injuries are fairly common among dogs and most will be small and manageable. That said, there may be times when your dog will require a bit of extra care. Today, our Fremont vets share some advice for dog wound care and monitoring healing stages while at home. We'll also discuss when to consider seeing a vet and how to speed up recovery.
Even the most easygoing dog can have an accident that causes a graze, cut or other injury that will need first aid care. However, even minor wounds can lead to serious infections, so if you are unsure whether you should take your dog to the vet, it's always best to be cautious. Bringing your dog to the vet as soon as possible after a wound appears can save your dog a lot of pain - and you lots of money - in the long run.
When Should You Seek Veterinary Care For a Dog Wound?
While pet parents can certainly care for some dog wounds, there are other wounds that should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Wounds that need veterinary care include:
- Animal bites (while these may appear small, they can quickly and easily become infected if not treated)
- A wound with a large object lodged in it (eg: a nail or piece of glass)
- Wounds caused by a car accident or o there trauma
- Injuries around the head or eyes that lead to breathing difficulties
- Skin that's been torn away from the flesh below (often happens during dog fights)
What You Should Include in Your Doggie First Aid Kit
Keeping a pet first aid kit on hand and having a little know-how on how to use one can be incredibly helpful if your dog sustains a minor injury. Here are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.
- Sterile bandages
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Pet antiseptic solution (ie 2% chlorhexidine)
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Sterile bandages
- Bandage scissors
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Clean rags or towels
- Spray bottle
How To Care for a Dog Wound
To avoid infections, wounds should be cared for and clean as soon as possible. Before starting first aid on your dog, it's best to have someone help you restrain your pooch and be there to offer support.
If you're unsure of what to do or whether your pet needs veterinary care, keep in mind it's always best 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.
Muzzle Your Dog For Safety
An injured, anxious or scared dog may bite you out of fear while you are attempting to help. This is why our team recommends muzzling your injured dog before starting first aid treatment. You may want to practice putting a muzzle on your dog while they are behaving regularly and have no injuries, so e's used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent your pup from becoming more aggravated when he already may be in distress.
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 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.
Thoroughly 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. You could 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 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.
Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage
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.
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 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 repair the damage using collagen.
- Maturation - Collagen is reorganized and water is reabsorbed while the scar tissue forms.
Cold Laser Therapy for Wound Healing in Dogs
Cold laser therapy (also referred to as low-level laser therapy or Class IV laser therapy) uses focused light to increase blood circulation and stimulate the regeneration of cells.
Does cold laser therapy work on dogs?
Yes. The veterinary industry has deemed pet laser therapy safe and effective. It can effectively be used to treat diseases, injuries and conditions such as 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
Continued Care Throughout Recovery
When caring for healing dog wounds, frequent monitoring and cleaning is key to preventing infection and other complications. Check your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection does not set in and that healing is proceeding normally.
Your vet can also share any specific information you should know as your dog recovers, and you may be able to find images online to keep in mind as a reference for what normal recovery should look like - try searching for "dog wound healing stages - pictures" (please only do this if you are prepared to see graphic images of wounds and stages of healing).
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. 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.