My dog has a cut. Is this an emergency?

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My dog has a cut. Is this an emergency?

Due to the curious nature of dogs, it’s no wonder why they end up with minor scrapes or cuts when accidents happen. Knowing how to clean and treat skin wounds and being able to recognize when veterinary attention is necessary can be very helpful. Continue reading for expert tips on how to care for your dog’s wound.

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When to Take Your Dog to the Vet

Even if it’s just a minor cut, you should deal with it promptly to prevent the chance of infection from setting in. Waiting too long can increase the risk of infection and may require the need for a round of antibiotics prescribed by your vet.

When attending to your dog’s wound, make sure to observe proper precautions as your pet may act aggressively if painful or scared. It’s a good idea to have an assistant to help restrain your dog. A muzzle may also come in handy.

Some types of injuries require prompt veterinary attention and should not be treated at home. If your dog has any of the following injuries, you should call your vet for advice. You may be instructed to bring your pet in immediately.

1. Penetrating wounds - Common examples include a deep laceration or bite wound in which the skin has been fully punctured.

2. Wounds that involve sensitive or large portions of the body.

3. A wound that is inflamed and pus is visible.

4. A wound that is bleeding profusely or hasn’t stopped bleeding after 10 minutes.

5. Burns

6. When there is an object, such as broken glass, in the wound

7. If a minor cut or graze isn’t healing quickly or appears to be infected.

8. If a dog’s paw or joint appears bruised and swollen.

Dog Wound Care Supplies

Pet owners should have supplies for wound care on hand. A pet emergency kit should include the following:

  • Antiseptic solution
  • Water-based lubricant
  • Electric clippers, scissors, or disposable razors
  • Clean paper or cloth towels
  • Styptic powder
  • E-collar or protective bodysuit to prevent your dog from reaching the wound

First Aid for Bleeding Wounds

Blood loss can increase your pet’s risk of going into shock or even death. If your pet’s wound is bleeding heavily, find where the blood is coming from and apply a temporary bandage or a clean cloth to exert pressure and limit the bleeding. If there is a piece of glass or object embedded in the wound, don’t try to remove it. You may rinse any dirt out of the wound but be careful not to inflict unnecessary pain.

Next, contact your vet so you will be instructed what to do next and if there is a need for an emergency appointment.

Avoid removing the bandage to see if the bleeding has stopped. This can disturb any clot which can cause the bleeding to start again.

If there is a need to move your pet, do so carefully without touching the wound.

How to Treat Cuts and Wounds

Minor Skin Cuts and Grazes

Keep minor cuts and grazes clean and dry. These wounds usually heal in a few days. If there’s dirt in the wound, dilute non-stinging antiseptic in warm water and use it to clean the wound. Next, wipe the injury with a clean cloth or towel. Avoid using cotton as the threads tend to stick to the wound.

Make sure your pet’s not licking the wound until it’s fully healed.

If there’s an unpleasant smell from the bandages or the wound is looking worse, becomes more painful, or there is a change in your pet’s health and/or temperament, you should seek immediate veterinary attention.

Large Skin Cuts

A large or deep wound requires prompt veterinary attention. These wounds can be very painful and prone to infection. The injury needs to be cleaned before topical treatment is applied. Depending on the extent of the injury, there may be a need for staples, stitches, or even surgery. Pain medication may also be prescribed.

Your pet will benefit from restricted physical activity while the wound is recovering. A lot of movement can slow down the healing process.

Bite Wounds

Animal bites tend to be more serious than they actually look. They can also become easily infected because of bacteria from the animal’s mouth. If your pet has been bitten by a dog or other animal, always take your pet to your veterinarian immediately, even if the wound is small and doesn’t appear to be serious. Your dog may need a round of antibiotics to prevent infection, pain medication, and possibly surgery. Without appropriate treatment and medical attention, there can be a significant amount of pain and discomfort, and higher risks for serious infections.

Puncture Wounds

The cause of puncture wounds can range from small items, such as splinters and grass awns, to glass and metal, to animal bites, to gunshot wounds. These wounds have a very high risk of getting infected. Oftentimes, the skin looks fine from the outside but there could be more severe problems developing under the skin. The puncture could certainly be just the tip of the iceberg.

When there is profuse bleeding or an object has penetrated any part of the dog’s body, use a bandage to cover the wound. A bandage can also be used for a chest wound.

Keep your dog calm. When he is panicking or in pain, don’t put yourself in harm’s way. You can use a muzzle to restrain him before going to the vet.

General Wound Care Guidelines

Regardless of whether or not your dog’s wound is treated at home or the veterinary clinic, the following guidelines should be followed to ensure optimum healing and repair:

  • Keep the wound and surrounding area clean and dry. This can help reduce the risk for reinfection and allow the development of new healthy tissue.
  • All medications prescribed by your vet should be administered as prescribed. Antibiotics should not be discontinued even if the wound appears to be fully healed, except when instructed by your veterinarian to do so.
  • Your dog may need a protective collar (E-collar) to prevent him from licking or chewing an open wound and causing further damage.

Tips to Help Protect Your Dog from Cuts and Injuries

Keep your dog on a leash during outdoor excursions. This will enable you to have more control over your dog’s movements and direction.

Watch for any sharp objects on the floor or in areas where your dog is playing or exploring.

If there are other dogs around, be alert for any signs of aggression. Call your dog immediately if you notice any dog snarling, growling, or exhibiting other forms of aggressive behavior.

Read more:

What to Expect When Your Pet Has a Wound

Nothing to Bark About! Causes of Limping in Dogs

Signs of Pain in Dogs

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog’s wound or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

Published: 10/15/2021

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