What to Do If Your Dog is Wounded
Like all pet parents, you are vigilant about keeping your dog safe and healthy. But if your dog is injured, do you know when—and how—to treat her yourself and when to seek help? Knowing what to do and being prepared will provide you with peace of mind and may even prevent further injury to to your beloved furry family member.
Minor scrapes and superficial wounds
If the wound is shallow and less than an inch long, it is safe for you to treat it at home. Here's how:
- Restrain your dog gently or have someone else hold her. Remember, she is in pain and may react unexpectedly.
- Blot with a clean cloth and gently flush the wound with warm salted water (2 tsp. sea salt to 1 cup warm water). If your dog has long hair, it may be easier to clip the fur around the wound before cleaning.
- Do not apply anti-bacterial cream unless your dog will be wearing an Elizabethan collar or other restraint. You do not want him licking the cream.
- Wrap the wound with gauze. Be sure to check the wound and change the dressing every 12 hours.
What not to use on wounds
The cleansers that we use on our wounds—like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and body soaps—are too strong for your dog and may irritate his skin. Plain warm or salted water is best.
Any bite wound is potentially serious and should be immediately seen by a veterinarian, even if only a small puncture. Bite wounds can cause internal bleeding or even muscle damage. If your dog is bitten by a wild animal, he may also need a rabies shot.
Although the tetanus vaccination is not recommended for dogs, puncture wounds are hard to clean and risk infection. No matter how benign the wound may look, it should be seen by a vet.
Any wound around, in or near the eye must be seen by a vet right away. Even a small wound could lead to infection and possible loss of vision.
Inflamed skin and wounds with pus
Wounds that don’t heal
If there is continued swelling, redness or inflammation after a day or two, and the wound does not show signs of healing, it's time to head to the vet.
For your peace of mind—and your dog’s well-being—be prepared for an emergency with these simple tips:
- Have important phone numbers for the vet or an emergency after-hours vet clinic handy on your phone, your laptop or on the fridge.
- Keep a canine first aid kit, which you can find at any good pet supply store.
- An emergency blanket to comfort your dog, keep her warm and help in transporting her to the vet.
Caring for an injured dog can be stressful. But with these helpful tips and suggestions, you’ll know what steps to take to get him on the path to recovery.