How to Care for a Dog Wound at Home

Not every cut or graze your dog gets requires veterinary care, but it's important to know how to treat your dog's wounds and when it's time to head to the vet. Today, our Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics team provides tips on dog wound care at home.

Accidents Happen - Even to Dogs

Even the most laid-back and relaxed dog can have an accident that results in a cut, graze, or other injury that requires medical attention. Having said that, even minor wounds can lead to serious infections. If you're unsure whether to take your dog to the vet, it's 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 money.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

While some dog wounds 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:

  • Animal bites (these may look small but become infected very very quickly)
  • 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

Putting Together 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

Administering First Aid to Your Pooch

In order to avoid infection, wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible. It is best to have someone help you restrain your dog and be generally supportive before beginning first aid on your dog.

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 err on the side of caution. When in doubt contact your vet, or an emergency vet immediately.

Muzzle Your Dog

A scared, anxious, or injured dog may bite while you are attempting to help, which is why our team recommends muzzling your injured pooch before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury occurs so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to avoid aggravating your dog's distress.

Check For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound

Look for any debris or objects that might be buried inside the wound. This is crucial if your dog's paw pad is injured and you suspect that they stepped on something sharp. If you can remove the item with tweezers, be gentle when doing so. If the object is deeply embedded, leave it alone and contact your vet or an emergency vet right away.

Clean the Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw pad, you can care for it by swishing 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.

Applying caustic cleaning agents to your dog's skin, such as hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaners, can cause pain or even make the wound take longer to heal.

Control Bleeding

Apply pressure with a clean towel, making sure there is nothing stuck in the wound. Larger wounds may require more time to stop bleeding, even though most small wounds do so in a few minutes. After applying pressure for 10 minutes, the bleeding ought to stop. Contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital as soon as possible if your dog is still bleeding after that.

Contain Your Dog's Wound

Before covering the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or another bandage, you might want to dab a small amount of antibacterial ointment on the area. Products with hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids should not be used. To keep the gauze in place, use an elastic bandage with self-adhesive backing.

Prevent 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.

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, 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 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? Contact our Boulder and Westminster emergency vets right away.