Your dog can get into minor or major accidents, no matter how much you take care of her. Because of her playful and curious nature, she will get scrapes, cuts, or open puncture wounds. As a dog owner, being an effective nurse when she has an accident is one of the most vital skills you will need to develop.
Let’s talk about how you can treat minor wounds at home. We will also look at steps to provide your dog with first aid if she has a major wound. Some remedies will be listed, including natural remedies.
Importance of cleaning and treating dog wounds
It’s obvious, but cleaning and treating even a scratch on your dog should be done promptly. You’ll be able to prevent infection and a possible worsening of the wound.
If you clean the wound properly, you can avoid incurring a large vet bill. You can build a stronger bond with your dog as well. She’ll know you’ll be there every time she suffers an ouch to make it all better.
Supplies and Equipment
You never know when your dog might have an accident. Always be ready with these basic supplies:
- Clean towels or cloths (to stop bleeding or to wrap your dog in during emergencies)
- Sterile gauze (to clean wounds and keep them dry)
- Saline solution (to wash debris and clean the wound)
- Disposable gloves (to handle the wound without infecting it)
- Medical tape or bandage (only if you know how to bandage a dog’s wound)
- Antiseptic (with povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine)
General steps in treating your dog’s wounds
1. Whether it’s a minor or a major wound, staying calm is the first thing you should always do. You don’t have to contribute to the stress of your pet by freaking out. You have to keep yourself level-headed, even if you’re worried.
2. Next, calm down your dog. She’s hurt and frightened. She knows not why she’s hurt. So, soothe her by petting her and talking to her gently. Make her understand that you’re there for her, and it’s going to be all right.
This is where the importance of keeping calm comes in. Your dog will be able to pick up on your body language and voice. If you keep calm, then your dog will follow you.
3. The first thing you should address about the wound, if any, is the bleeding. The bleeding must be stopped. If it’s in small trickles, then you can stop it with clean gauze or cloth by applying pressure on the wound. Use disposable gloves to minimize the chances of bacteria from your hands infecting the wound.
If the blood comes out in spurts, your dog has likely injured an artery. This is a serious and dangerous condition (we’ll talk more about this in the first-aid for your dog’s major wound).
Steps for cleaning and treating dog minor wounds
1. Place her on top of a counter or table if your dog is from a small breed. Ensure counter the or table is bacteria-free and clean.
If you have a large dog, place her in a clean area in your house. You will be able to treat her better if you can reach her wound easily.
2. Stop the bleeding. You can start cleaning the wound once this is done. Check the body of your dog for other cuts that may not bleed.
3. No matter how small the wound is, it’s always better to treat a wound without any hair surrounding it. The hair could be a source of infection.
Isolate the wound by shaving or trimming the hair around it. Use a clean gauze or cloth to wipe away the trimmed hair.
If you think the hair can’t be shaved or trimmed, don’t touch it. You might nick the wound and make it worse.
4. Wash the wound thoroughly.
A saline solution is the best cleaner. It has antibacterial properties that are disinfecting. It is also gentle to the wounded tissue. Squirt the solution to the wound and keep washing for at least 5 minutes. If the wound is on a paw, soak it with the saline solution in a bowl or small bucket.
Commercial saline solutions can be purchased. But you can make your own home-made saline solution as well. Use Epsom or salt from the sea. These have minerals for healing purposes. Mix 1 cup of boiled water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Dissolve the salt. Wait for the bearable temperature of the mixture.
You can also clean the area with soap and water then rinse with a saline solution.
Use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the wound if you are sure that your dog’s body can handle it. Whether this ingredient can prevent tissue from healing or whether it is safe for dogs to use is still a big debate. Regardless, be sure you dilute it first if you use hydrogen peroxide. Mix 1 part of a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide with 3 parts of water to dilute.
Don’t use disinfectants that have phenols as an ingredient because it might be toxic to your pet.
5. Pat the wound dry with another clean cloth or sterile gauze. Avoid rubbing the wounded area. Rubbing it might cause your dog more pain or make the wound worse.
6. Apply an antiseptic solution to clean up the wound further and prevent infection. Look for an ingredient that contains povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine. These ingredients kill bacteria. But they are safe for pets.
7. Apply a pet-safe ointment on the wound to encourage healing. Consult your vet before giving your dog topical antibiotics.
It is better to use ointments or topical antibiotics spray version. If you spray, you it can apply it faster. If it is applied this way, the wound would also absorb it more quickly. But your dog may be scared by the spray sound. Or you might sting your dog with the solution. Also, be careful not to spray the solution in your dog’s eyes if you use a spray version.
Avoid using steroids like betamethasone or hydrocortisone. These could interfere with the wound’s healing process.
You can use a topical cream, but your dog might lick it right away. Prevent her from reaching the ointment or from scratching the wound open with an Elizabethan collar or cone.
8. Unless you have the permission of your vet, do not apply a bandage over the wound. The bandage might limit the flow of blood and make the wound worse. Many veterans recommend healing wounds in the open air.
9. Check the wound daily. Clean it if necessary. Re-apply the ointment twice or thrice a day until the wound is healed.
Natural remedies for treating minor wounds
- Use rinse, spray or wash with
herbs that have antibacterial and healing properties. The following herbs
can be used:
- leaf and root of comfrey,
- blossoms of St. John’s wort or calendula,
- leaves and blossoms of lavender,
Comfrey is especially good at healing because it has allantoin, which stimulates cells to grow.
To prepare the herbs, brew for each cup of boiling water 2 teaspoons of dried herb or 2 tablespoons of the fresh herb. Let it steep until it’s cool. Strain. Use it. The extra should be refrigerated.
- You can also use apple cider vinegar directly on the wound. Or you could blend herbs with the vinegar.
- Use essential herbal’s oil from the above-described herbs. First, dilute the oil. Since an essential oil has a very strong smell, the undiluted oil may be too strong for the smell sensation of your dog.
Mix about 10 drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil.
- There are natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil. Most dogs love to lick it so you might want to put your dog in a cone as you apply it and let it soak in the wound.
When to bring your dog to the vet
You’ll know that it’s time to bring your pet to the veterinarian when the following circumstances occur:
- The wound is to the eye or near it. Any delay in professional care could result in your dog’s permanent loss of vision. Don’t think twice of this type of wound.
- Another animal bites your dog. The mouth of an animal is filled with bacteria. There will always be a chance of infecting your dog through an animal bite with rabies or other bacteria. Even if it is small, any bite wound should require evaluation by a vet.
- The wound is so big that it needs stitches. Only a professional can do this.
- The wound punctures the skin and into the muscles or tendons.
- The wound swells or there is pus. This means the wound is infected.
- The wound changes into an unhealthy color instead of a healing natural pink color.
- The wound becomes infected or appears infected. Any sign of infection will require a trip to the vet for an emergency.
- Your dog is weak, shivering, or has a higher or lower temperature than normal.
First aid for major wounds
You can provide first aid care to relieve the pain of your dog on the ride to the vet if you need to carry your pet to an emergency clinic.
1. As noted above, the most important thing to do is to stop the bleeding. Apply pressure on the wound with a clean towel, cloth, or gauze.
2. Keep the pressure for approximately 3-5 minutes. This is going to be enough time to clot the blood. Don’t press for less than 3 minutes. If you keep applying pressure, then check it every minute, you might stop the clot from forming and delay the blood from stopping.
3. Put a tourniquet if you know how to do it. Do this only if you know how to do it. An incorrectly made tourniquet could worsen the wound, crush muscles, or severely stretch arteries. And the worst case might be that because of an improper tourniquet, your dog will need an amputation.
4. Avoid the use of human medicines for your dog, especially pain killers. Even if some people give their pets human medicine successfully, your dog should be safe. Only give medicine if prescribed by the vet.
- If you treat your dog, get one or two people to stand by. If she’s anxious or scared, you’ll need someone to help you restrain your dog gently or put a muzzle on it. You have to think about your safety, especially when dealing with your injured pet. Her injury could make her aggressive. When you touch her wound, she could instinctively bite you.
If you know that you will not be able to handle your dog, bring her to the vet. Trained professionals will be able to restrain her properly while they treat her.
Wrap her in a blanket or large towel as a protection for both you and your dog when you take her to the vet.
- If you cannot gauge how severe the wound is, it’s better to go for the safer decision. Bring her to the vet for a proper examination.
- You’ll know that healing is underway when you see new skin forming over the wound.
- While she is healing, give your dog extra love and kisses to comfort her during this trying time.