While injuries are fairly common among dogs and most will be small and manageable, there might be times when your dog will require a bit of extra care. Here, our Brooklyn vets share some advice for dog wound care while at home, when you should consider seeing a vet, and how to speed up recovery.
Healing Dog Wounds
Even if your dog doesn't get into mischief, accidents are still possible, and with accidents come injuries and wounds. 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. It's important that you bring your dog to the vet anytime they sustain an open wound that requires more than very basic first aid.
Your dog has a wound, when is veterinary care needed?
As mentioned above, wounds requiring basic care can usually be managed fine by pet parents but other wounds should receive veterinary attention. Wounds that require veterinary care include:
- 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)
- 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
Stocking Your Dog First Aid Kit
Having a pet first aid kit on hand, and a little know-how can be helpful if your dog has a minor injury. Below are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Sterile bandages
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Bandage scissors
- Spray bottle
- Clean towels or rags
How to Care For a Dog Wound
Cleaning an open wound is crucial to preventing serious complications such as 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 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.
Keep Your Dog Muzzled to Prevent Accidental Injuries
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.
Take a Close Look For Foreign Objects 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 can 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 Very Well
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.
Stop Any Bleeding That Might be Occurring
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.
Wrap the Wound in a Sterile 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.
Don't Allow Your Dog to Lick the Wound
If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar.
What are the stages of dog 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.
If you would like more detailed insight into what to expect during each stage you could search the internet for 'dog wound healing stages pictures'.
Veterinary Cold Laser Therapy For Healing
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.
How does laser therapy help with dog wound healing?
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
In addition, laser therapy does not have any negative side effects and no sedation is required. We also do not need to clip or shave the area being treated.
Ongoing Care While Healing Dog Wounds
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.
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.