Since dogs are so curious and playful, it isn't uncommon for them to sustain a wound or injury that needs to be tended to. Here, our Austell vets discuss dog wound care, the stages of the healing process, and when you should seek veterinary assistance.

Dog Wounds & Injuries

An accident that leads to a cut, graze, or other injury requiring first aid can occur at any moment for any dog. Even if a wound or cut seems small, it can lead to serious infections. So, if you are in doubt about whether you should take your dog to the vet, it's always best to err on the side of caution.

If your dog has a wound, taking them to the vet as soon as it happens could help them avoid a great deal of pain. You could also save a lot of money in the long run, as leaving the wound untreated can cause it to worsen and require more extensive treatment in the future.

When to See the Vet

While you may be able to provide dog wound care at home for minor injuries, some wounds should be seen by a veterinarian. Wounds that require professional 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
  • Any injury that you believe may require surgery

Canine First Aid Kits

Having a pet first aid kit on hand along with a little know-how can be helpful if your dog has a minor wound or injury. Below are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.

  • Muzzle
  • Sterile bandages
  • Soap or cleaning solution
  • Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
  • Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Bandage scissors
  • Clean towels or rags
  • Self-adhesive bandages

How to Care for a Dog Wound

To avoid infections, wounds need to be cleaned and cared for right away. Before beginning first aid on your dog, it is best to have someone else present to help restrain your dog and offer them support.

If you are unsure about what to do, or whether your pet needs veterinary care, you can always contact your vet for advice on what to do. If the injury seems severe, take your dog to an urgent or emergency care vet immediately.

Muzzle Your Dog

A scared, anxious, or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help, so our team recommends muzzling your 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 pup's distress. 

Check for Foreign Objects Lodged in the Wound

Look for objects or debris that may be lodged in the wound. This is especially important 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.

Dog Paw Wound Care

If the wound is on your dog's paw, try swishing the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to remove 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.

Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin. These can be painful and even prolong the healing process.

Control Any Bleeding

As long as there is nothing stuck in the wound, apply pressure using a clean towel. While most small wounds will stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds will likely 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.

Bandage Your Dog's Wound

If you have antibacterial ointment on hand you may want to apply a small amount to the area before covering the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or another bandage. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place. 

Preventing Your Dog From Licking Wound

If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar.

Ongoing Care

Monitor your pup's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection doesn't set in and healing is proceeding as expected. 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. Ask your vet about laser therapy for wound healing. This relatively new treatment may be a good solution for promoting the healing process and reducing your pet's pain.

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. Please visit with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Has your dog suffered an injury requiring professional veterinary care? Contact our Austell vets right away to have your pup looked after.