Of course, it’s always best to take your dog to see a vet as soon as possible if they’re injured, but that isn’t always possible. Sometimes you have to start helping your dog before you can get them to the vet, or do some of the post-visit wound care. So here are some of the best tips we’ve found for helping care for an animal’s wounds.
Dealing with minor wounds
First off, when we say minor we mean minor. Things like cuts and scrapes can be cared for entirely at home, but if your dog is attacked by another dog or animal or is otherwise injured, please seek help from a vet.
Even cuts and scratches should be dealt with as soon as possible, because that helps prevent infection from seeping in. We recommend having warm water, clean towels, and an antiseptic solution on hand, as well as someone else to help hold your dog so they don’t wiggle away. Even if your dog is generally calm, they may become aggressive to avoid future pain, and so having someone there to help is never a bad idea. If possible, make sure it’s someone your dog trusts and likes.
Get your dog ready and calm
Once the bleeding has stopped and your dog is calm you can get started on caring for the wound itself. To stop bleeding, apply pressure gently. To calm your dog, make sure to keep yourself calm. Dogs will follow your lead and your cues, and so if you’re talking to them gently and petting them, it will help keep them calm.
If you need to shave the dog’s fur around the cut to get to it, it’s best to do that first. Dogs can carry a lot of dirt in their fur, especially those with long fur, and it can get matted while you’re trying to deal with their wound.
Wash using warm water
Once you’ve done that, wash the area gently with warm water until all signs of any dirt or grit around the area is gone. Warm salt water can also be used to flush out the wound, but is not recommended if your dog is already agitated. If you are doing a saline rinse, try to use a syringe to get it onto the wound and use a lot to flush out as much as possible. After you’re done, pat the wound dry (do not rub it, because this might further aggravate the broken skin) and make sure it’s fully dry before moving onto the next step.
Disinfect the wound
Then apply a non-stinging antiseptic to the area. It’s important to use a non-stinging one if at all possible, because dogs don’t understand why you’re causing them more pain, and if they’re already frightened this may upset them further. We also recommend using a spray before a cream or ointment, because they’re easier to deal with and do not attract as many bacteria to the area.
Prevent your dog from licking the area for at least ten minutes. This isn’t a full on cone-of-shame situation, but it’s best to make sure that the medicine has time to do its work. After about ten minutes or so, feel free to let them lick the area--they know enough about how to care for themselves to survive in the wild for a long time before humans domesticated them.
Keep doing this a few times a day until the wound seems to be healed. If it doesn’t look like it’s healing, consult your vet because it might be infected. Some signs of infection are pus or other discharge, especially if it’s yellow, grey, or green. The area would likely smell badly as well.
Trust your instincts when dealing with your dog’s wounds. If you think it’s bad enough to see a vet, you’re probably right. But with simple, small injuries like cuts and scrapes, it’s perfectly easy to treat them at home and to make sure you’re taking great care of your best friend while you do it. The most important thing to remember is that caring for a wound isn’t a one off, and you should monitor it for a few days or weeks to ensure that it keeps healing properly.