How to Build a First-Aid Kit for Basic Pet Injuries

a puppy resting its head on a bed

No one ever wants to have a hurt dog, but sometimes accidents happen. While a veterinarian is the best equipped to treat your dog’s wounds, there are plenty of ways to treat your dog at home without the hassle of a car trip and a hefty bill. As long as you have the right tools, you can easily treat minor cuts and scrapes in the comfort of your home.

What Causes External Wounds To My Dog?

Dogs are notorious for being fearless adventurers, so they’re bound to end up with a small injury or two in their lives. Most are often no cause for serious concern since you can treat them at home. Rambunctiousness can result in cuts and scrapes or even paw injuries from stepping on something like broken glass. Be wary, because if wounds aren’t treated immediately and continually until they’re healed, your dog will become susceptible to infection, and you’ll need to visit a veterinarian. You should also visit a vet if your dog has serious wounds like punctures or larges gashes.

dog playing fetch outside
It’s fine for your dog to get rambunctious—they’re dogs after all!—but be alert for any injuries.

What Should I Be Looking For?

Since your dog can’t speak to you to let you know he’s hurt, it’s up to you to keep an eye on him to check for external wounds. This is something you should get in the habit of doing on a daily basis if you aren’t already. An external wound might seem like it’s an easy, obvious find, but it may be somewhere not easily visible or hidden by fur. Some things you should be looking for include:

  • Scratched or scraped skin
  • Bruising
  • Hair loss or hair matting (around the wound)
  • Bleeding
  • Pus in or around the wound
  • Obvious pain
  • Redness or swelling

Once you’ve determined your dog has a wound, you should immediately treat it to ensure a swift and illness-free recovery.

What Do I Need To Treat My Dog At Home?

Sometimes wounds are superficial, like small cuts or scrapes, and don’t require a visit to the vet. If you know your dog will behave better at home, it’s helpful to know what you’re doing if she gets hurt. Here’s a few things you’ll want to have on-hand to treat an external wound:

  • Water-based lubricant
  • Electric clippers, scissors, or a razor
  • Warm water
  • Clean towels
  • Saline solution & antimicrobial ointment
dog comfortably laying in owners arms
Make sure your dog is calm and comfortable before beginning any procedures.

If your dog doesn’t particularly like to sit still, you may need a second individual to gently restrain her while you care for the wound. Once she’s comfortable, you can get to work:

  1. Apply the water-based lubricant to the wound; this will allow you to easily clear the trimmed fur away from the open wound without contamination.
  2. Trim or shave away the fur from the open wound while being extremely careful to not further aggravate the wound.
  3. Wipe away the lubricant with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
  4. Use warm water to gently clear away any debris from the wound. Pat dry.
  5. Apply the saline solution and antimicrobial ointment while making sure your dog doesn’t attempt to groom it away for at least 10 minutes.

To simplify the process and speed healing, consider opting for a no-touch treatment spraythat acts as both a disinfectant and protectant for your dog’s wound.

What About Serious Wounds?

If your dog’s wound is a large gash, a puncture wound, or an abscess, immediate veterinary attention is necessary. In such cases, these wounds will require sutures to close the wound, but if a deep infection is present, the wound may be left open for a topical treatment and to allow for proper drainage. These types of wounds must be cleaned often to keep infection away, so be sure to keep a similar regimen in place while following all instructions from your vet.

What Do I Do After I’ve Cleaned The Wound?

Once you’ve cleaned and treated the wound, be sure to repeat the process at least two to three times a day so your dog doesn’t end up with an infection. If the wound doesn’t begin to heal within a few days, make sure to get your dog to a veterinarian. In some cases, depending on the wound, you may need to get your dog a cone to keep him from grooming the area. Think again if you thought your dog’s saliva was inherently designed to heal wounds; your dog’s mouth is actually full of bacteria that’ll be harmful to open wounds, so you want to keep him from it until it’s healed. Additionally, your vet may prescribe pain medication for certain wounds, so be sure you’re administering it when necessary.

puppy playing outside
The faster your pup heals, the sooner she can get back to playing!

If you’re unsure of the best way to treat your dog’s wound, it’s always best to consult or visit a veterinarian. After all, you want your best friend up and at ‘em as soon as possible.

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