While not all dog wounds require veterinary care, it's essential to know how to treat your dog's injuries and when to take them to the vet. In this blog, our New York vets explain how you can provide first aid care for your dog's wounds at home.
It doesn't matter what kind of lifestyle your dog lives they can still have an accident that causes a graze, scrape, cut, or another injury, that needs to be cared for. Even though some wounds might appear to be small they could still result in serious infections. Therefore if you are unsure if you should bring your dog to the vet or not, it's always best to be cautious and contact your veterinarian. Bringing your dog to the vet for a wound immediately after they have obtained it could save you a lot of money and your dog a lot of pain.
Wounds in Dogs That Need Veterinary Care
Even though you can treat some dog wounds at home, there are also situations where a dog's wound needs to be addressed by a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Here is a list of wounds that require veterinary care:
- A wound with a large object lodged in it (ie: 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)
- Animals 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 having a pet first kit and a little knowledge prepared just in case your dog gets a minor injury. Here is a list of some items you should have on hand so you can be ready if your dog gets hurt:
- Sterile bandages
- Clean towels or rags
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
- Spray bottle
Giving Your Dog First Aid
To help prevent any infections, you should have your dog's wound addressed and cleaned as quickly as possible. Before starting your dog's first aid, you should have someone assist you in restraining your dog and be generally supportive.
If you don't know what to do, or if you should take your dog to the vet or not, keep in mind it's always best to be cautious when it comes to the health of your animal friend. When in doubt call your vet, or bring your dog to an emergency animal hospital immediately.
Muzzle Your Dog
A scared, anxious or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help which is why our team recommends muzzling your hurt dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury arises so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent adding to your dog's distress.
Look For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound
Inspect the wound to make sure there aren't any objects or debris lodged in it. This is even more so essential if the wound is on the pad of your dog's paw, as they could have stepped on a sharp object. If you can remove the item easily with tweezers, do it very gently. If it's deeply lodged, leave it alone and call your veterinarian immediately, or bring your dog to an emergency vet.
Clean Your Dog's Wound
If the wound is on your dog's paw, you could swish the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to help rinse out any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body you can place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and gently run clean water over the wound. You may want to 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.
Manage the Bleeding
If your dog doesn't have anything stuck in its wound, with a clean towel apply pressure. While most small wounds should stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds will probably 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.
Contain Your Dog's Wound
Do you have an antibacterial ointment handy? If so, apply a small bit to the wound before covering it with another bandage or piece of sterile gauze. Don't use products with hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. You can use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to keep the gauze in its place.
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.
You will have to monitor your dog's wound twice a day to make sure it is healing as it's supposed to and that it isn't becoming infected. 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.
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.