Dog Wound Care: Complete Guide

Not all cuts or scratches your dog gets would need a trip to the vet, but it's important to know how to handle your dog's injuries and when it's necessary to visit the veterinarian. Today, our Vancouver vets provide home dog wound care tips.

Accidents Happen

Dogs can have accidents resulting in cuts, grazes, or injuries needing care. Even seemingly small wounds can get infected, so it's safer to be cautious if you're unsure whether to visit the vet.

Taking your dog to the vet right after an injury can prevent pain and complications.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

While some dog wounds can be treated at home, some wounds should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Wounds that require veterinary care include:

  • Animal bites (these may look small ones can quickly get infected)
  • Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often occurs during dog fights)
  • A wound with a large foreign object lodged in it (i.e., a piece of glass)
  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
  • Injuries around the eyes, head
  • Injuries that cause breathing difficulties

Putting Together Your Doggie First Aid Kit

It's handy to have a pet fiIt'said kit in case of minor injuries. Here are some essential items to keep on hand:

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

First Aid For Dogs

To prevent infections, clean and care for wounds promptly. It's best to have someone harness restraining your dog. If you're unsure or concerned about your pet's health, err on the side of caution and contact your vet or an emergency vet.

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 dog before beginning first aid treatment if it doesn't impede access to doesn't. 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. 

Check For dog's Objects Lodged in The Wound

Inspect the wound for lodged objects or debris, especially if it's on a paw pad. Gently raise objects with tweezers if possible; if deep, seek immediate vet help.

Clean the Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, you could swish the dog's 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 warm water 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.

Managing Bleeding

Apply gentle pressure with a clean towel to stop bleeding. Small wounds should stop within minutes, but larger ones may take longer. If bleeding persists after 10 minutes, contact your vet or an emergency animal hospital.

Contain Your Dog's Wound

Use antibacterial ointment and sterile gauze or other bandages. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place. 

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Wound

If your dog is trying to lick the wound, it may be necessary to have your dog wear the cone of shame.

Ongoing Care

Your dog's wound will need to be seen at least twice a day to ensure that infection doesn't set in and healing doesn't need to be 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.

If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, increasing pain in the area of the wound, or a foul 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.

If your dog is insured, visit our Vancouver vets to receive urgent care for your pet. Call us today!