How to Take Care of a Dog Wound

Rhodesian Ridgeback with wound on carpus.

Dogs are frequently active and can sustain a cut, scrape, or puncture wound in a number of ways. Some wounds are minor and may be treated at home, while others are more serious and require veterinarian care. Dog owners might benefit from knowing how to care for a little cut at home or how to manage a more serious condition temporarily. If wounds go untreated, they will cause pain and infection, and the wound may not heal correctly.

Types of Wounds

Dogs, like people, can sustain injuries that result in wounds when at home or in the yard. Because punctures, scrapes, and cuts are not medically produced, they are categorized as contaminated wounds, which means they are more likely to get infected. When a dog undergoes surgery, the wound is described as either clean or surgical. Germs can enter the body when the skin barrier is disrupted, and because a contaminated wound is not created in a sterile environment, bacteria are likely to be present on whatever caused the damage in the first place. Bacteria have additional opportunity to infect the wound when it is exposed to the environment.

Supplies Needed to Clean a Wound

If your dog develops a skin wound, the first thing you should do is clean it. You may or may not require all of the following materials, depending on where the wound is located, how deep it is, and how old it is. However, for an at-home wound or first-aid kit, this list is an excellent place to start. These supplies may be gathered ahead of time and placed in a bag or container so that you are prepared if your dog is injured.

  • Warm water or sterile saline
  • Clean wash cloths or gauze
  • Diluted chlorhexidine solution or iodine solution
  • Non-stick gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Vetrap™ or other self-adherent bandage wrap material
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Disposable latex or nitrile exam gloves

How Do You Clean an Open Wound?

You may need a second person to assist your dog keep still while you evaluate and clean the wound, depending on your dog, the location of the cut, and how painful it is. Put on your disposable exam gloves first, and if there is any fur around your dog's wound, carefully cut it away using electric clippers. After that, carefully rinse the incision with sterile saline or warm water. To flush the wound, pour it straight into it and carefully brush away any debris with clean gauze or cloths. After flushing the wound with water or saline, use the diluted chlorhexidine or iodine solution to gently clean it. If there is blood around the area, hydrogen peroxide can be used to assist remove it from the fur, but not straight into the wound. Finally, using gauze or cloths, pat the area dry.

Prepare your bandage materials if the wound is on the leg, paw, or anyplace else that can be quickly wrapped (and the accident occured recently). Apply some antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with non-stick gauze. Wrap the self-adherent bandage wrap material around the leg, paw, or other body part to keep the gauze in place. Avoid stretching the bandage while wrapping it to avoid making it too tight. If your dog tries to lick or chew on the bandage, it will need to be covered with a sock or your dog will need to be restrained with an E-collar or something similar. Make sure the bandage is dry at all times and change it every day to keep an eye on the wound until it heals or you can consult a veterinarian.

When to See a Veterinarian

If your dog has an open wound, have it checked out by a veterinarian to make sure it doesn't need sutures, surgical debridement, or more invasive surgery. Some puncture wounds might reach the abdomen or chest chambers, causing significant complications. If your dog is having difficulties breathing or has air pockets under its skin, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible. Small punctures, scrapes, and cuts may heal on their own if they aren't infected, but your veterinarian may still prescribe medicines to prevent infection and pain relievers to make your dog comfortable throughout the healing process.