Dog injuries are frequent, with most being minor and manageable. However, some injuries may require additional attention. In this article, our veterinarians at O’Fallon offer suggestions for at-home dog wound care, veterinary attention indications, and tips for expediting recovery.

Dog Wounds

Even calm and composed dogs can experience accidental cuts, scrapes, or other injuries that require immediate attention. Even minor wounds can lead to severe infections, so it is best to seek veterinary care when in doubt. Timely veterinary care can alleviate your dog's pain and save you 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.

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

How To Apply First-Aid to Your Dog's Wound

To prevent infections, wounds require prompt cleaning and care. Prior to administering first aid to your dog, it is advisable to have assistance in restraining and supporting them.

When uncertain about the appropriate measures or need for veterinary care, prioritize your pet's well-being and seek professional advice from your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic. It is always preferable to err on the side of caution regarding your pet's health.

Muzzle Your Dog For Safety

As a frightened, anxious, or wounded dog may bite during first aid, our team suggests using a muzzle to protect both you and your dog. Prior to an injury, it is beneficial to familiarize your dog with muzzles, making it easier to put one on if needed. Doing so can prevent exacerbating your dog'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 immediately call your vet or an emergency animal hospital.

Thoroughly Clean Your Dog's Wound

For paw wounds, clean them by rinsing them with warm water in a clean bowl or bucket, removing debris and dirt. For wounds located elsewhere, gently run clean water over the wound by placing your dog in a sink, bath, or shower. You can add mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.

Avoid using strong detergents or applying hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other abrasive cleaning products to your dog's skin, as they can cause pain and delay the wound's healing.

Control Your Dog's Bleeding

If there are no foreign objects in the wound, use a clean towel to apply pressure. Minor wounds usually stop bleeding within a few minutes, whereas larger wounds may take longer. After applying pressure for about 10 minutes, the bleeding should cease. If your dog continues to bleed, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital.

Properly Cover the Wound With a Bandage

If you have antibacterial ointment available, apply a small quantity to the wound before covering it with sterile gauze or another bandage. Avoid using products containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Secure the gauze with a self-adhesive elastic bandage.

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 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, water is reabsorbed, and scar tissue forms.

Healing Process Using Cold Laser Therapy

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. The veterinary industry has deemed pet laser therapy safe and effective. It can effectively be used to treat diseases, injuries, and conditions such as tissue injuries (including strains and sprains) and arthritis.

We often use it to supplement other treatment options to improve our pet patients' outcomes.

As for benefits, laser therapy can

  • Enhance circulation
  • Decrease nerve sensitivity
  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Speed the healing process

In addition, laser therapy does not have any negative side effects, and no sedation is required. We also do not need to clip or shave the area being treated.

Continued Care Throughout Recovery

Inspect your dog's wound twice a day to ensure the infection does not develop and that the wound is healing correctly. Twice a day, clean the wound with water or a pet-friendly antiseptic solution. If the wound becomes inflamed or exhibits signs of infection, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you notice escalating redness, swelling, discharge, heightened pain, or a foul odor from the wound, seek veterinary attention immediately.

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 needs veterinary care for a wound or would like more information about cold laser therapy, contact Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital right away.