At one point or another, you will inevitably have a dog that needs first aid. Playtime may get at little rough or your pup may find out the hard way about thorns in rose bushes. Immediate and proper attention at home will help speed healing and minimize pain. Dr. Hervatic has a few basic guidelines to care for your pet’s wounds at home.
If your pet is in pain, he or she may act out and bite you. Soothe them with a calm voice, and approach slowly. If your dog is growling, it is best to bring him to his vet, where he or she can be safely handled. Protect yourself by using a blanket or towel before transporting to the veterinary clinic.
Check for active bleeding
Apply pressure to the wound using a clean washcloth. Keep the pressure for 5 minutes before evaluating the extent of the injury. If after 5 minutes, there is blood pulsing from the wound, there is an arterial injury—GO DIRECTLY TO A VET. Do not apply a tourniquet unless you’ve been trained to do so because an incorrect application can result in tissue death.
*If the bleeding has stopped after 5 minutes, you may continue with the next step.
Clean the wound
Once the bleeding has stopped, you need to clean the wound. Flush the wound repeatedly with warm tap water. You can further disinfect the wound using a saline rinse by mixing 2 teaspoons of salt in every one cup of water. Pat the wound gently with a clean towel to dry thoroughly without disturbing the blood clot. Do not attempt to scrub the wound. Lastly, it is best to not bandage the wound.
Use a cone to prevent licking; you can find at most pet stores (or from your VET). Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to clean any wound. That can delay wound healing for your pup. You may use an antibiotic spray if you have it handy. Dr. Hervatic does not recommend using Neosporin or similar products, as they are thick and may seal in bacteria and attract dirt to the wound.
Other products to avoid include ointments or sprays with steroids such as hydrocortisone or betamethasone, which may delay wound healing, or antifungal creams like clotrimazole.
Monitor the wound daily
Check every day for signs of infection: redness, swelling or discharge. If you note any signs of infection, please make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
You must go to the vet under the following conditions:
- Any eye injury
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Dog or cat bite (a tiny puncture can result in a very large abscess in a day or two)
- Deep cuts where you can see muscles, tendons or fat
Even the smallest wounds will heal faster and be less painful if you allow your veterinarian to assess and care for it at the onset. If your pup is injured, please take the necessary steps to help his or her healing process.