Simple Instructions on How to Treat Cuts and Small Wounds on a Dog
I realize that there are some wounds that a lot of dog families are not willing to take care of at home.
If it is the middle of the night and you do not have access to an emergency vet, if the roads are iced over and you cannot travel, or if you are without a car and there is no one available, are you willing to just let your dog suffer?
That First Aid Kit
And of course, do not forget the muzzle!
It is vital that you have a simple first aid kit at home at all times. (Read this article and get all of the supplies before you ever need them.)
The kit should include some sterile bandages, some tape, a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide and another of betadine or chlorhexidine, solutions that will clean any wound.
If you already have a good first aid kit for people at home you can use that but you should also have wrapping that he will not tear off and a pair of bandage scissors. These scissors will not allow you to damage your dog when he wiggles around as you are bandaging his wound. Buy them at your local pharmacy when you are purchasing betadine.
Once you have your first aid kit out and before you get started, please try to get someone to help you hold the dog and use a muzzle if you have one. Even a dog that would not normally bite will be upset and may bite during wound cleaning.
Almost all dogs will bite when in pain. If you have not bought a leash before hand, here is a video that demonstrates how to make a leash in an emergency.
Dealing With The Wound
There are a few simple steps taking care of a wound but it all depends on whether the dog is bleeding. If he is bleeding you need to deal with that first. Bleeding from a bite wound is a lot less serious than bleeding from running into glass, stepping on glass or metal, etc. Here are the basic techniques that every dog owner should know for taking care of dog injuries at home:
1. Stop the bleeding by applying pressure. If the wound is small you can use a piece of gauze but if it is large just grab a clean towel. The wound is not clean and it is not a big deal if you use something from around the house.
If the bleeding from your dog´s wound is really bad, there might be a "pumper", and blood will shoot out every time his heart beats. It will do no good to apply pressure to this wound since it will still bleed. Go into your first aid kit and grab a pair of forceps, reach down into the wound and grab the tip of the vessel and clamp it shut. This is not easy, but keep trying. If you do not stop the bleeding your dog might die.
2. Clean the wound. A bite wound can be quite small but will be dirty and infected. “Road rash” will be a lot larger and may look worse but is actually a lot cleaner. Use the betadine to clean around the wound but to actually clean it you can use plain tap water. (If you have large syringe in your first aid kit you can fill it up with water and spray the wound to flush it any bacteria.) Tap water is less irritating than most of the things we used to pour into the wound. If there is any gravel, twigs, or other material in the wound now is the time to take it out.
3. Apply a temporary bandage. You do not need to tape up the wound or wrap the foot at this point. Just cover it up so it will not get dirtier as you are working.
4. Clip the hair. This is really important to help keep the wound clean. Use your scissors to clip the long hair around the wound and collect the hair so it doesn’t get the wound dirty. Wash your hands to remove all of the hair before finishing.
5. Close the wound if possible. If you are doing this at home you obviously cannot suture the wound; if you have cleaned it and flushed it with water go ahead and pull the edges together before bandaging, if this is even possible. If the wound is still open clean it again with some water and use a gauze pad to gently scrub the tissue.
6. Put on a final bandage. If on your dog´s side or back, a square bandage will do. If on one of the limbs you can put on a square bandage and then put a roll bandage on top to hold it in place. If you do use a roll bandage on the limbs you need to make sure the toes are visible when you are finished. The toes on a normal dog are parallel and close together. Check the foot every hour to make sure that the toes look exactly the same as when you started (compare the toes to the foot that is not bandaged if you need to remember what normal looks like). If there is any swelling you need to take the bandage off and wrap it a lot looser. If you do not you can cause your dog to lose his leg.
If you have done a good job cleaning the wound she might be okay with simple first aid.
If the wound needs to be sutured, or it is a large open wound that will become infected, take her in to your veterinarian as soon as possible to start antibiotic therapy.
Closed or Open?
A small simple wound may be closed after cleaning. When you take your dog in to your vet each wound will be evaluated and closed after it is cleaned correctly.
Some small wounds, especially on tissue like that of the nose and footpad, cannot be closed with sutures and are sealed with a surgical adhesive that is similar to super glue.
If your dog has numerous wounds that are bleeding, closing them might be the best alternative. Take super glue and drip it into the wound and press the skin together. As super glue is working it gets hot and really hurts; don’t be surprised if he tries to get away or bite. Only do this if absolutely necessary.
Do not use this super glue technique on a bite wound. Bite wounds are dirty and you will be trapping the bacteria and it will cause an abscess; no matter how bad it looks it must heal from the inside/out.
Do not use super glue to close wounds after road rash, do not use it on lacerations that are dirty, do not use it if there is any chance the wound might be infected. The only reason you need to use it is if the wound is in spongy tissue that must be closed to stop the bleeding.
When you are finished there will be a mess. Hydrogen peroxide breaks up the red blood cells and makes cleaning up a lot easier.
Your dog will probably do best to remove any bandage and roll around on her wound, but take a minute and pat yourself on the back. She may not realize it at the moment but she appreciates your efforts!