It’s always wise to keep a well-stocked medical box for your furry friend, just like you do with human medicines and first aid items. Emergencies often happen when you are least prepared, so beat them at their own game and always be ready to jump into action. Keep it in a convenient place, and make sure anyone who looks after your dog knows exactly where it is. Don’t forget to replace any items you use, and add to it as necessary.
Most dog wounds are caused by other dogs, often in play, but aggressive dogs can cause some pretty nasty bites that often require veterinary treatment. Some dogs are particularly accident-prone, however, and will cut their paw, or scratch their nose when investigating interesting sniffs, running around the backyard, or chasing a rabbit.
How to assess the wound?
It’s crucial to assess the wound as soon as possible to ascertain if a trip to the nearest animal hospital is necessary. Get your dog to the vets as quickly as possible if he has:
Wounds that won’t stop bleeding after a couple of minutes – apply firm pressure to the area while you get to the vets.
Wounds that contain an object, such as a splinter, or glass – try not to remove the object as this can exacerbate any damage. Use a bandage to limit any blood loss, but be very careful not to push the object further into the dog.
Been bitten by another dog, or other animal – bite wounds can often hide further injuries under the skin, and can get infected very easily. Your pet may also require a rabies shot.
Been involved in a road accident.
Been bitten by a snake.
Wounds where you can see exposed tissue, muscle, or bone.
Puncture wounds – these can hide serious injuries deeper down.
Wounds that are contaminated by dirt, or that look infected.
These cases may require your dog to have stitches, antibiotics, and pain medication, which should only be prescribed by a veterinarian.
Cuts, scratches, and grazes – know the difference
Even if the wound is superficial, it’s important to treat it correctly, or it may rapidly develop into a bigger problem.
Firstly, collect everything you’re going to need – this should be easy if you followed our earlier advice and have a well-stocked doggy first aid kit.
If your dog is small enough, lift him onto a table, if not you’ll have to get onto the ground with them.
If there is someone you can ask, get them to restain the dog. A muzzle can be useful in this situation as even the most placid canine can snap through fear or pain.
Apply a water-based lubricant to the area.
Carefully trim the fur away from the area. The lubricant allows you to removes any loose hairs so the wound remains clean.
Gently wash the wound with warm water and a clean lint-free cloth, remembering to wipe away from the edges of the wound, removing any debris from the area.
Lightly pat the area dry with a paper towel, or a dry, lint-free cloth.
Apply a liquid antiseptic to the wound, followed by an antibacterial cream.
Repeat this process 2 or 3 times a day, and, if the wound isn’t healing or begins to look red and sore, head for your nearest vets. It’s important to note that wounds, especially the deeper ones should heal from the inside out. If a scab forms over the top, any infection cannot drain out and can turn very nasty.
Depending on the nature of your dog, you may need to prevent him from getting to the wound. This can increase soreness and the risk of infection. An Elizabethan collar is great for this.
Your dog’s first aid kit
In order to make sure your doggy pal gets the best care possible, it’s important to have a first aid kit in your home, and if you take him out in your car, one kept in the glove compartment is a great idea too.
What should be in your dog’s first aid kit
Your nearest vet’s emergency number – if in doubt, always ring your vet.
A selection of self-adhesive, or crepe bandages
Several conforming/open-weave bandages
Sterile absorbent gauze
Non-adhesive wound dressings that you can cut to size
Clean lint-free cotton pads
Blunt ended, curved scissors
Aloe vera gel
Arnica gel and a bottle of arnica 30c tablets
Activated charcoal tablets
Whether your dog has somehow gotten injured, or perhaps the wound is an abscess, or a post-surgery wound, you need to be equipped with all the knowledge and tools necessary to help your dog recover.
For more advice on how to cope with your dog’s injuries, watch this YouTube video.