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Dog Wound Care & Healing Stages

Dogs can get hurt when it's least expected. Some injuries can be treated at home, while others require immediate veterinary care. Here, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital share information about stocking your first aid kit, how to care for your dog's wound at home and when to seek emergency care.

Caring for Wounds in Dogs

Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog can have an accident resulting in a cut, graze, or injury that necessitates first aid. However, even minor wounds can cause serious infections, so if you are unsure whether to take your dog to the vet, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as a wound appears could save your dog a lot of pain and you money in the long run.

What should be in your dog's first aid kit?

A pet first aid kit can help with minor and common injuries like dog paw wound care when at home. Here are some of the items that you should keep stocked in your doggy first aid kit:

  • 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

How to Treat Dog Wounds at Home

It's important to care for any wound your dog sustains right away to help prevent infections. 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 regarding your pet's health. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian right away.

Call Someone You Know to Help

Because a scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while attempting to help, you may want to consider asking someone to help keep your dog calm before beginning first aid treatment. This can go a long way in preventing accidents and help your dog feel more at ease.

Clear Any Debris From 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 immediately call your vet or an emergency animal hospital.

Cleanse Your Dog's Wound–Gently

If the wound is on your dog's paw, rinse it in warm water to remove 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. Add 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; these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.

Stop the Bleeding Using Firm Pressure

Apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel if nothing is stuck. While most minor wounds will stop bleeding within a few minutes, larger wounds will likely take longer. Within 10 minutes of applying pressure, the bleeding should stop. If your dog is still bleeding after that, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital.

Protect the Wound Using a Dry, Sterile Bandage

Apply antibiotic ointment and wrap the wound in a sterile bandage. Products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids should be avoided. To keep the gauze in place, use a self-adhesive elastic bandage.

What are the healing stages of a dog wound?

The four main stages that a dog's wound will go through as it heals 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.

How to Ensure Quick Healing of Dog Wounds

Check your dog's wound at least twice daily to ensure that infection does not occur and that healing proceeds 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.

When to Bring Your Dog in For Veterinary Care

While small wounds may be managed and cared for using first aid supplies at home, others will need veterinary attention. In some cases, you may need to go to your nearest emergency vet or animal hospital in Louisiana.

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.

What types of dog wounds require veterinary care?

While some dog wounds may be cared for by pet parents, some 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 (i.e., 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

If your dog is showing signs of infection (swelling, redness), along with lethargy, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, or other concerning symptoms, please contact your nearest ER vet or emergency pet hospital in Louisiana.

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 has a wound and requires veterinary care, please contact our team at Marcello Veterinary Hospital right away.

New Patients Welcome

Marcello Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Louisiana companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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