Dog Wound Care: A Complete Guide

Not every scratch or cut your pup gets needs veterinary care, but it's important to know how to treat your dog's wounds at home and when it's time to head to the vet. In this post, our Simi Valley vets offer tips on dog wound care at home.

Even Dogs Have Accidents 

Although generally resilient and great on their feet, it is possible that your dog can experience an accident that leads to a cut, graze or another injury that requires care. Although minor wounds can often be treated at home just fine, if you're in doubt as to whether you should take your dog to the vet, it's always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your pooch to the vet for a wound as soon as it occurs could save your dog a lot of pain, and you a lot of money.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

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

  • Dog bites or bites from other animals (even if small, infection and rabies exposure are concerns)
  • 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)
  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
  • Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties

First Aid Kits for Dogs

Having a pet first aid kit on hand, and a little know-how can be helpful if your dog has a minor injury. You can build your own first aid kit or purchase a pet first aid kit that will include all the items you need. Below are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.

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

Administering First Aid: How to Care For a Dog Wound

Wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible in order 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 about what to do, or whether your pet needs veterinary care, remember that when it comes to your animal's health it is always better to safe than sorry. When in doubt contact your vet, or an emergency vet immediately.

Muzzle Your Dog

Sometimes, a dog that is scared, anxious, or in pain dog may bite while you are trying to help them. This is why we recommend muzzling your hurt pooch 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 for dog paw wound care as they may have stepped on something sharp that caused the wound. If you are able to easily remove the object with tweezers, do so gently. If the object is lodged deeply, leave it and call your veterinarian, or an emergency vet immediately.

Clean the Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, you can 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.

Control Bleeding

Provided that 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 are likely to 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. 

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Wound

Licking the wound could cause it to take longer to heal. If your pup is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar. 

Ongoing Care

Your dog's wound will need to be monitored 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, 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.

Does your dog have a wound that requires veterinary care? At Park Animal Hospital, we offer emergency veterinary services during our regular clinic hours. Contact us or bring your dog in to be seen.