Seeing a wound, bruise or other injury on your dog can be a scary sight. It’s sometimes difficult to know what to do, whether you can do anything to help at home, or whether you need to seek veterinary attention. There are some helpful first aid measures you can put in place at home, and minor injuries can be fully treated by owners without a vet visit. Having some basics at home, such as antibacterial cream for dogs and some wound cleanser for dogs can be helpful for those times that minor accidents happen.
Treatment for wounds generally depends on three factors: size, depth and cause. Anything more serious than a minor cut or small graze should be checked by a veterinary professional. Here is a guide to wounds that definitely need a vet appointment:
Bleeding wounds – if the bleeding is heavy (more than a drip), or won’t stop after 5-10 minutes with pressure
Bite wounds – these are often deep and infected
Dirty/infected wounds – infected wounds will be red, angry-looking and may have a pungent discharge and smell
Wounds that have something in them, such as a shard of glass
Some injuries can appear small on the outside but actually extend deeper into the body than you think. If you’re concerned about an injury, do contact your vet.
If your dog has an accident and you find they are injured, do not panic. Follow these steps to assess the wound and see if there is anything you need to do at home, or whether you need a vet appointment.
Check your pet over. Do they have any other injuries? Are they bright, responsive and well in themselves? If your dog seems painful, weak or not their usual happy self, contact a vet.
Assess the wound. If it is large, deep, bleeding heavily or has something in it, contact your vet. Meanwhile, try and cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing and apply pressure. Do not apply an antibacterial powder to dogs or anything similar until the wound has been assessed by a vet.
If it is a minor wound, you can clean and treat it at home.
Small wounds can be easily treated at home. If the wound is small and not bleeding heavily, try to flush the wound out to remove any dirt. You can use clean tap water, salt water or a wound cleanser for dogs.
The wound must be kept clean and protected. Aim to clean any wounds or cuts twice daily and monitor them for signs of infection such as heat, redness, swelling or discharge. An antibacterial spray for dogs or similar can be used to try and prevent infection, but some antiseptics can slow healing so discuss this with your vet if you are unsure.
Contrary to popular myth, a dog’s saliva is not an antiseptic. Do not allow your dog to lick or scratch at the wound – when your dog is unattended, cover it with an article of clothing such as a sock, or use a buster collar. Antibacterial cream for dogs is much more suitable that the bacteria-filled saliva that comes from a dog’s tongue!
Bruises generally will heal without any intervention at home. One or two small bruises after a rough and tumble play are nothing to be concerned about, but a large bruise or multiple unexplained bruises may indicate an underlying issue such as a bleeding problem, so should be checked by a vet.