Ensure proper healing at every stage by avoiding these 5 all too common mistakes.
Cuts, scrapes, open wounds. Happens all the time. In fact, almost every human and dog have at least one surgery in their lifetime. So you think we’d be good at cleaning and treating wounds in both humans and dogs. Yet, these five mistakes are all too common in wound care.
While wound care isn’t exactly glamorous, it statistically is going to be necessary, so we here at Fauna Care will take you through:
- These 5 all too common mistakes in pet care
- What to do instead
- When to see a vet
Mistake #1: Chlorhexidine Soap
Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial agent that is commonly used in dental and surgical practices as a topical antiseptic in the cleaning of wounds. It was first used in the U.K. in the 1950’s, and chlorhexidine soap has been used widely by small animal practices ever since.
However, while chlorhexidine has low systemic toxicity and is usually fine in over-the-counter concentrations, it is hazardous when ingested and is an irritant to skin and eyes. And just think of how many times your pup would be licking the soap off of him.
Is it worth it? Sources say no. There is little evidence of it’s safety and efficacy in reducing bacterial numbers without causing wound trauma. It can also cause tissue necrosis (death) and regrow bacteria.
Mistake #2: Hydrogen Peroxide is the Go-To...Right?
You’ve got it in your medicine cabinet, it’s your first line of defense when cleaning your dog’s wounds, your kid’s wounds, your own wounds. It’s good old hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has been used since the 1920’s as an antiseptic as it kills bacteria by breaking down their cell walls. It does so through oxidation--the H2O2 compound’s oxygen atoms are highly reactive, attracting electrons from the bacteria. With fewer electrons, the bacteria’s cell wall becomes damaged and breaks apart.
However, hydrogen peroxide is not picky. It’ll also destroy your pet’s fibroblast cells, healthy cells that are essential to your pet’s healing. So while the compound does help with disinfecting, it is also slowing down your pet’s natural healing process.
Okay, so this cleaning thing is rough. Here’s what to do instead:
- Prepare the wound--staunch any bleeding by applying pressure and try to remove any fur (not using scissors, but clippers--manual or electric, and apply a water lubricant first) that is in your dog’s wound
- Flush the wound--using sterile, pressurized “wound wash” or sterile eye wash, for a quick substitute
- Disinfect the wound--with diluted Iodine wash (1% solution--not sure how to make dilutions? Click here)
For more details on wound cleaning, check out these 4 home remedies for minor dog wounds.
Mistake #3: Leaving on the Scab
Ah, the age old struggle: not picking the scab. You were told not to pick your scabs when you were a kid, and now you’re trying (in vain, your dog doesn’t know English) to try your dog the same thing.
But emerging research is showing that it can be better to remove the scab on healing wounds. Why the turnaround? When a scab forms on the skin, it can delay healing by preventing the wound margins from gradually closing, and can increase scarring.
So go ahead, pick that scab. But you’re also going to want to keep the scab area clean, and question why your dog is getting scabs, not just treat the symptoms. Dogs get can get scabs not only as a result of healing wounds, but because of too dry skin that is being scratched at, or because of parasites dwelling in their skin. Those won’t go away by just picking the scab, so make sure to pay attention to why your dog is getting them!
Mistake #4: Let Him Lick His Wounds
“Let him go lick his wounds.” It’s a common expression, taken to mean that “licking a wound” will help to heal it. Some people believe that dog saliva acts as an antiseptic, that it inhibits bacterial growth. So letting your pup lick his wounds is a good idea, right?
Studies have shown that this is true, but only to a small extent, the antiseptic quality applying to a small number of bacterial strains and inhibiting only a small number of bacteria. And the damage a dog can do to their own wound by licking it more than counteracts this small advantage of licking.
The trauma caused by the friction of licking and chewing a wound is destructive to the healing process. Licking can break down tissue and suture. And considering everything else a dog licks, licking his wound can actually introduce infection.
What to do instead (after cleaning the wound):
- Cover the wound with a sock, t-shirt or (for smaller dogs, and it’s always really cute) baby onesies, depending on where the wound lies
- If your pup insists on licking the wound, a buster collar may be the only solution until the wound heals
Finally, the biggest mistake you can make is not knowing when to go see the vet. Here’s how to know when to go.
Avoid these 5 all too common mistakes next time your pet gets hurts out on the road (or at home).