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 Los Angeles vets share some advice for dog wound care while at home, when you should consider seeing a vet, and how to speed up recovery.
Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog can be involved in an accident that results in a cut, graze, or other injury requiring first aid. However, even minor wounds can cause serious infections, so it is always best to err on the side of caution if you are unsure whether you should take your dog to the vet. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as a wound appears can save both your dog and your money in the long run.
When Should You Seek Veterinary Care For a Dog Wound?
While some dog wounds may be cared for by pet parents, some wounds should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 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
What You Should Include in Your Doggie 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 Apply First-Aid to Your Dog's Wound
Wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible to avoid 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 when it comes to your animal's health, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.
Muzzle Your Dog For Safety
Our team recommends muzzling your injured dog before beginning first aid treatment because a scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you are attempting to help. It's a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle before an injury occurs, so he's used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to avoid exacerbating your pup's discomfort.
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 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.
Thoroughly Clean Your Dog's Wound
If the wound is on your dog's paw, you can remove any dirt and debris by rinsing it in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water. If your dog's wound is somewhere else on his body, you can gently run clean water over it 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.
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
If nothing is stuck in the wound, apply pressure with a clean towel. While most minor wounds will stop bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds may take longer. The bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying pressure. If your dog continues to bleed, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital right away.
Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage
Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment to the wound before covering it with sterile gauze or another bandage if you have it on hand. Avoid products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to keep the gauze in place.
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 a 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 repairing the damage using collagen.
- Maturation - Collagen is reorganized and water is reabsorbed while the scar tissue forms.
If you need to, you can google 'dog wound healing stages' for pictures if you want to track the progress.
Cold Laser Therapy for Wound 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.
Does cold laser therapy work on dogs?
Yes. Pet laser therapy has been deemed safe and effective by the veterinary industry. It can be used to treat a variety of diseases, injuries, and conditions, including 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
Check your dog's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection does not develop and that normal healing is taking place. If the wound becomes inflamed or shows signs of infection, clean it twice a day with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution and contact your veterinarian right away.
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.