If your dog sustains a wound, it's crucial to understand how to administer first aid for your pup's injuries and when to seek veterinary assistance. In this blog, our Chino Hills vets discuss the steps for providing home-based first-aid care for your dog's wounds.
How To Care for Dog Wound
Regardless of your dog's lifestyle, accidents leading to grazes, scrapes, cuts, or other injuries can occur. Even seemingly minor wounds may lead to serious infections. Hence, if you're uncertain about taking your dog to the vet, it's prudent to err on the side of caution and get in touch with your veterinarian. Taking your dog to the vet promptly after sustaining a wound can save you money and spare your pooch unnecessary pain.
Wounds in Dogs That Need Veterinary Care
While you can address some dog wounds at home, veterinarians must promptly attend to certain wounds for a dog's well-being. Here is a list of wounds that demand veterinary care:
- A wound with a large object lodged in it (i.e., a piece of glass)
- Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties
- Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often occurs during dog fights)
- Animal bites (these may look small but become infected very very quickly)
- Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
First Aid Kit for Dogs
We recommend preparing a pet first aid kit and acquiring some basic knowledge if your dog sustains a minor injury. Ensure you have the following items on hand so that you can promptly respond if your dog gets hurt:
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Pet antiseptic solution (i.e., 2% chlorhexidine)
- Spray bottle
- Sterile bandages
- Clean towels or rags
- Self-adhesive bandages
Giving Your Dog First Aid
To prevent infections, promptly address and clean your dog's wound. Before initiating first aid for your dog, enlist someone to assist in restraining your pup and provide overall support.
If you're uncertain about what steps to take or whether to seek veterinary assistance, err on caution for your animal friend's health. Call your vet or immediately take your pup to an emergency animal hospital if in doubt.
Muzzle Your Dog
A scared, anxious, or hurt dog may bite while you attempt to provide assistance. That's why our team suggests using a muzzle on your injured pooch before starting first aid treatment. It's advisable to practice muzzling your dog beforehand, even before any injury occurs. This ensures that your dog becomes accustomed to the process and the sensation of the muzzle, ultimately preventing additional distress for your pup.
Look for Foreign Objects Lodged in the Wound
Examine the wound thoroughly to ensure no objects or debris are lodged in it, especially if the injury is on your dog's paw pad, as they might have stepped on a sharp object. If tweezers can be used to remove the item easily, do so with great care. If the object is deeply lodged, refrain from attempting to remove it and promptly contact your veterinarian or take your dog to an emergency vet.
Clean Your Dog's Wound
If your dog has a wound on its paw, swish the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to rinse out any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body, place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and gently run clean water over the wound. You can add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.
Avoid using harsh cleaners or applying hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog's skin, as these can be painful and may prolong the healing process of the wound.
Manage the Bleeding
If your dog has nothing lodged in its wound, use a clean towel to apply pressure. While most small wounds typically cease bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds will likely require more time. The bleeding should halt within 10 minutes of exerting pressure. If your dog continues to bleed beyond that timeframe, promptly contact your vet or an emergency animal hospital.
Contain Your Dog's Wound
Do you have antibacterial ointment nearby? If you do, administer a small amount to the wound before securing it with another bandage or sterile gauze. Avoid using products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Utilize a self-adhesive elastic bandage to ensure the gauze stays in position.
Keep Your Dog From Licking Their Wound
Is your dog trying to lick their wound? They might have to wear a cone or e-collar.
Monitor your dog's wound twice daily to ensure proper healing and prevent infection. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day. Contact your vet immediately if the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection.
Contact your vet right away if you observe increasing redness, swelling, discharge, escalating pain in the wound area, or a foul odor emanating from the wound.
There are three main stages of the healing process for dog wounds. The process is quite similar to humans and involves the following stages:
Inflammation - A dog's body's natural instinct after sustaining an injury is inflammation, just like if you were to sprain your ankle or sustain a cut. This response happens almost immediately, and it's the first stage of healing.
Debridement - Debridement sets in after just a few hours, ridding the wound of dead tissues and cells and killing off any bacteria.
Repair - The repair phase starts a few days after the initial trauma and is much less alarming than debridement and inflammation.
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.