Is there anything more stressful than your dog getting hurt? It is never easy to watch a pet we love so much be injured and then struggle to heal. Without proper guidance, it can be difficult to know what sort of medical attention your pet may need. Luckily, we have a few tips and tricks that can help you decide on the best course of action when it comes to treating your pet’s wounds!
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Wound evaluation
- Symptoms of infection
- Home treatment
- When to call the vet
When you find your dog has been injured, it is important to take a deep breath and evaluate the situation. This includes determining the severity of your dog’s wound. You can do this using three basic criteria:
- Cause - Was it a bite from an animal? Were they scraped by a plant? Puncture wounds can be more dangerous than scratches or abrasions.
- Location - An injury to the eyes, nose, throat, or stomach is more serious than an injury on the back or thighs.
- Contamination - Has the wound been cleaned? If it’s a bite, could the animal who hurt your dog have an infection? Is there debris?
If you believe your dog’s wound to be severe in any or all of these categories, it’s best to skip the frontier medicine and get them to the vet ASAP.
Once you have noticed and evaluated the wound, you can try to determine where it is in it’s healing process. Whether you seek medical help or are tending to an injury at home, it is a good idea to keep these stages in mind so you can monitor your dog’s behavior and health.
The four stages of wound healing are as follows:
This is the first stage of healing and typically occurs immediately after the wound is inflicted. It can result in swelling, redness, and potentially more limited mobility. It is a normal part of the healing process.
This is the stage where white blood cells begin to clean out the wound. They move in to liquify dead tissue and bacteria, creating pus. There are two forms of debridement: selective and non-selective. Selective debridement means that only the damaged areas are being removed whereas non-selective destroys healthy tissue as well. The latter is a negative reaction.
If the pus from your dog’s wound is yellow, green, bloody, has a foul odor, or the surrounding skin has become black and tough, it could mean the wound is infected and the natural debridement process isn’t working as it should. If that’s the case, you’ll want to bring your dog to the vet for surgical debridement.
This is when the skin has finally begun to heal. At this time, the area may be a bit pink and a scab will form. All of these are good signs! Keeping the area clean is still an essential part of keeping the healing process steady, so you’ll want to continue checking on your dog’s wound, taking time to wipe away any pus, crust, or debris.
The final stage of healing can often be the longest. The new skin covering the wound site can be sensitive, lighter in color, and more fragile at first, but it will toughen up as time goes on. Depending on the type of wound and the severity, this is when a scar may begin to form.
Symptoms of Infection
Throughout all of these stages of healing, you will want to stay on the lookout for any signs of infection. An infection can stop a sore from healing properly and can cause your dog quite a bit of pain.
Some signs your dog may be fighting an infection are:
- High fever
- Yellow, green, bloody, or smelly discharge
- Blackened skin around the wound
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble standing, walking, or going to the bathroom
- Pale gums
- Whimpering or shaking
- Loss in weight
- Change in urine or feces
If you believe your dog to have an infection, you’ll want to get in touch with your vet and set up an appointment. They will be able prescribe antibiotics and pain medication as well as give you a more solid diagnosis regarding your dog’s behavior.
Before and after going to the vet, there are ways to ensure your dog’s wound stays clean. Let’s go over the simple steps to keeping your dog’s sores, ulcers, or injuries infection free at home.
First, you’ll need some supplies at the ready. It’s best to keep these tools somewhere handy in case of any emergency:
- Water based lubricant like K-Y Jelly
- Scissors or low noise electric clippers
- Warm water
- Clean towels
- Antiseptic solution
- Antimicrobial solution
- A cone collar
You’ll begin by slathering the wound site with K-Y Jelly. This will help prevent the wound from becoming contaminated while you remove any surrounding fur.
Next, take your scissors and clippers and remove the fur. This will provide a better view of the wound and help keep it clean in the long run. When you’re done cutting, you can use warm water and a towel to wipe the area.
Now, take a look at the wound. This part can be a bit yucky, but it’s important to make sure there are no bits of rock, dirt, grass, fur, wood, or fabric in the wound. If you spot any, you can either flush the wound with warm water or saline solution or use tweezers to gently remove the debris.
Apply antiseptic next to disinfect the wound. While many might reach for the handy medicine cabinet staple of hydrogen peroxide, this isn’t the best idea for dogs. It can actually irritate their skin and make matters worse rather than better. Instead, choose a vet approved antiseptic like diluted chlorhexidine, an iodine solution, or surgical soap. Never use any shampoo, soap, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, or herbal remedies.
Finally, use an antimicrobial solution like Fauna Care’s Silver Spray. This will stop bacteria and fungus from entering your pet’s wound and potentially infecting them. Silver Spray is especially effective, with silver compounds and zinc working together to eliminate any invaders. The solution also has a nifty spray nozzle to help prevent any unnecessary contact with the wound.
You will want to repeat this cleaning process two to three times per day for at least a week to promote healing. And, if you find your dog is licking or chewing at the wound, it might be time to put a cone collar on them. Contrary to popular belief, dog saliva does not magically clean wounds. In fact, licking can expose sores to bacteria and reopen healing injuries. So, keep an eye on your pooch for any excessive licking, grooming, or chewing!
When to Call the Vet
If your dog’s wound has made no positive progress over the course of a week, you notice signs of infection, or it seems too severe to treat at home, it is best to call a vet and arrange an appointment ASAP. As pet owners, we want to do everything we can to keep our animals healthy and safe, but there are times where we simply need an expert.
The best way to keep your dog safe is to prevent any injuries from happening in the first place, but accidents happen. In the event that your dog does get hurt, knowing a little about proper care, maintenance, and medicine will go a long way toward getting your pooch back into tip top shape!