No matter what kind of lifestyle your dog lives, they can still have an accident that causes a graze, cut, scrape, or any other injury that requires emergency veterinary care. While some wounds might appear to be small, they may still lead to serious infections.
Therefore, if you are unsure if you should bring your dog in to our animal hospital in Brentwood for emergency veterinary care, it's always best to be cautious and contact your veterinarian. Bringing your dog to your vet for a wound immediately after one has occurred may save you a lot of money for veterinary treatments in the event of an infection - and your dog a lot of pain.
Wounds in Dogs That Need Emergency Veterinary Care
While you can treat some wounds that may happen to your dog at home, other circumstances will make it necessary for a veterinarian to treat the wound as soon as possible. Here is a list of wounds that need veterinary care:
- Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often happens during dog fights)
- A wound with a large object lodged in it (e.g. a piece of glass)
- Bites from other animals (these may look small but can become infected very quickly)
- Injuries around the eyes or head, or that lead to breathing difficulties
- Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
First Aid Kit for Dogs
Having a pet first aid kit and a bit of knowledge about how to use one may come in handy, in case your dog gets a minor injury. Keep the items on this list ready to use so you can be prepared if your dog gets hurt:
- Clean towels or rags
- Sterile bandages
- Self-adhesive bandages
- Soap or cleaning solution
- Spray bottle
- Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
- Pet antiseptic solution ( e.g. 2% chlorhexidine)
Giving Your Dog First Aid
You should have your dog's wound addressed and cleaned as quickly as possible. Ideally, we recommend having someone to support you in providing first aid and to restrain your dog if required.
If you aren't sure what to do, or whether you should take your dog to the vet or not, remember it's always best to err on the side of caution where your pet's health is concerned. When in doubt, call your vet to arrange emergency care or bring your dog to an emergency animal hospital immediately.
Muzzle Your Dog If Necessary
A scared, anxious or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help. Depending on the circumstances, our team may recommend muzzling your hurt dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury arises so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent adding to your dog's distress.
Look for Foreign Objects Lodged in the Wound
Inspect the wound to make sure there aren't any objects or debris lodged in it. This is even more so essential if the wound is on the pad of your dog's paw, as they could have stepped on a sharp object. If you can remove the item easily with tweezers, do it very gently. If it's deeply lodged, leave it alone and call your veterinarian immediately, or bring your dog to an emergency vet.
Clean Your Dog's Wound
If the wound is on your dog's paw, you could swish the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to help rinse out any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body you can place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and gently run clean water over the wound. You may want to add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.
Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.
Manage the Bleeding
If your dog doesn't have anything stuck in its wound, with a clean towel apply pressure. While most small wounds should stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds will probably take longer. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying pressure. If your dog is still bleeding after that time, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital right away.
Contain Your Dog's Wound
Do you have an antibacterial ointment handy? If so, apply a small bit to the wound before covering it with another bandage or piece of sterile gauze. Don't use products with hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. You can use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to keep the gauze in its place.
Keep Your Dog From Licking the Wound
Is your dog trying to lick their wound? They might have to wear a cone or e-collar.
You will have to monitor your dog's wound twice a day to make sure it is healing as it's supposed to and that it isn't becoming infected. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day, and contact your vet immediately if the wound becomes inflamed and shows signs of infection.
If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, increasing pain in the area of the wound, or a bad odor coming from the wound, contact your vet right away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.