Accidents happen -- sometimes rough housing goes a little too far, you return from a hiking trip to see your dog has a bad gash on his leg, or he came back from outside limping and you find he stepped on something and cut open his paw.
The first step you should take after finding the wound is determining if you need to take your furry friend to the vet. If you’re unsure of what to do and you are willing and want to seek professional help from a specialist, then absolutely take your canine to the vet.
Otherwise, wounds that need professional medical attention are deep cuts or lacerations that produce a lot of blood and won’t stop bleeding, and when you see your dog in obvious pain. A bite from another dog may also need specialist attention because dog’s mouths contain bacteria, which could contaminate and possibly infect a bite wound. Lastly, if you see a wound becoming infected -- red and swollen, dead skin around the area, leaking pus, or see an abscess forming, then definitely take your dog to the vet.
Oftentimes, puppies or playful dogs have a tendency to get scratches, scrapes, or cuts that you can treat at home with the help of products you might already have. We will discuss the following natural remedies:
To initially treat your dog’s wound, you’ll first want to wash the area with warm water and cut the surrounding fur -- either with electric clippers, scissors, or a razor to prevent excess dirt and debris from entering the wound and causing infection. After this you’ll want to wipe and clean the wound again with water and be sure to remove any debris or particles you can see. Make sure you dry the area with a clean towel or paper towel, then you may apply a solution that kills bacteria and yeast, which can cause infection.
Next be sure that you don’t allow your canine companion to lick his or her wound. There’s an old wives tale that states dog’s mouths are cleaner than humans and even have healing properties. This is in fact a myth. As we’ve said dog’s mouths contain bacteria, so they can’t lick their wounds -- this risks delaying the healing process by causing further irritation to the area and possible infection. This doesn’t mean you have to resort to the ‘cone of shame,’ if you want to use this method there are other alternatives to the cone, such as the Elizabethan collar, that prevent licking and biting. You may also choose to cover the wound with a bandage, dog coat, or t-shirt.
This is a fancy name for an easy treatment method. Running water over the wound washes away debris, dirt, dead skin cells, and promotes the growth of healing tissue.
Run warm water over the wound for 5-10 minutes once or twice a day. If your dog will fit in the sink, you can use the kitchen faucet. You can also gently spray your dog’s wound with a hose.
Saline solution trails behind water rinses as the second best method to treat wounds. This method is also very simple -- to create the solution, mix one teaspoon of salt or epsom salt with two cups of warm water. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved into the water. You can use this to rinse the wound, but be sure to make a new solution each time because bacteria can grow on the surface if left to sit.
Herbs are known for their many healing properties. You can mix up a solution of herbal tea and apply it to your dog’s skin to clean the wound and promote healing. Herbal teas can be used in a variety of ways such as a rinse, spray, wash, or compress.
Comfrey, also known as “knit bone,” is known for its healing properties -- namely encouraging cell growth. This herb is very effective, so it shouldn’t be used with objects that need to be removed from the wound, such as stitches. You should also refrain from using it with deep wounds, as the healing skin on the surface may trap harmful bacteria under the skin surface. It is a great option to promote fast healing on scrapes, cuts, burns, and bug bites.
Calendula also helps promote fast skin growth and prevent scarring while acting as an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It can be applied as a tea or salve to cuts, burns, scrapes, bites, abscesses, and fungal infections, but not to a wound that looks infected.
As aloe is known to soothe burnt skin on humans, it can be applied to soothe burns on dogs. It has natural anti-inflammatory support, so it relieves already inflamed skin and the pain that comes with it. Apply it directly from the plant as an ointment on your furry friend’s wound. Do not use it on severe burns or already infected wounds.
When brewing an herbal tea, combine 2 teaspoons of the dried herb of your choice or 2 tablespoons of the fresh one with one cup of boiling water. Let the tea steep and infuse until it cools, then strain excess herbs from the liquid and refrigerate. You can apply this to the wound as often as needed.
Vinegar has a number of positive properties, not only for healing, these include -- soothing skin, aiding in healing, improving the fur coat, and repelling fleas and ticks. It can be applied to cuts, skin infections, calluses, and itchy areas. A solution of vinegar and herbs can be combined together in a sealed glass jar and left in a warm place for a month. After they can be strained and transferred to spray bottles and finally left in a cool, dark place for later use.
To make the solution add any combination of fresh or dried herbs -- rosemary leaves, calendula blossoms, rose petals, juniper berries, lavender stalks or flowers, lemon peel, orange peel, sage, cinnamon, cloves, and chamomile blossoms. Cover with the vinegar and follow the steps above.
Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended to clean animal wounds. This slows down the healing process, because the “bubbling” caused from the solution not only kills bacteria, but also the skin cells needed to heal the wound. So, do not use this method as it is too aggressive and harmful to your canine friend.
Remember these methods to help treat your furry friend’s wound if it is minor enough to treat on your own. Always start with water rinses and follow with other remedies if you believe your dog may need more vigorous treatment.
If all else fails and you don’t have access to herbs or the ability to create a vinegar solution, you can also purchase an antimicrobial and antiseptic spray to treat the wound. This First Aid Spray for dogs combines Bacitracin and Zinc to treat and protect skin.
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