Simple First Aid to Treat Your Dog's Cuts and Small Wounds at Home

Updated on February 15, 2020
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Some dog wounds just need simple first aid at home.
Some dog wounds just need simple first aid at home. | Source

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, however, 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?

I would not be willing to. If you are not, find out what to do.

Grab Your First Aid Kit!

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.)

In order to treat any cuts or small wounds that your dog might get the kit should include some sterile bandages, some tape, a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide and another of betadine or chlorhexidine, disinfecting 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 elastic wrapping that he will not tear off and a pair of bandage scissors used with dogs. These scissors will not allow you to damage your dog when they wiggle around as you are bandaging their 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. (I use the one listed here since it is inexpensive and vital when treating wounds—almost all dogs will bite when in pain. Buy the appropriate size for your dog and keep it on hand in your first aid kit.)

Even a dog that would not normally bite will be upset and may bite during wound cleaning. If you do not have your muzzle yet look at the video below and apply the next best thing before starting.

First Aid for Your Dog's Wound

There are a few simple steps taking care of a wound but it all depends on whether the dog is bleeding. If they are bleeding you need to deal with that first. Bleeding from a bite wound is a lot less serious than bleeding from running into a glass door or jumping out of a window, 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. Try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. Put something on top of the wound and put pressure on it to allow the small vessels to clot and stop seeping blood. If the wound is small you can use a gauze square but if it is large just grab a clean towel. The wound is not clean yet and it is not a big deal if you use something from around the house.
  2. Stop more serious bleeding. If the bleeding from your dog´s wound is really bad, there might be a "pumper", and blood will shoot out every time their heart beats. This is common if the wound is deep, like a cut foot. 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 are not able to stop the bleeding the dog might bleed out and die. If the bleeder will not stop and you cannot clamp it you will have to do whatever you can to get them to a veterinary emergency clinic.
  3. Clean the wound. A bite wound can be quite small but since a tooth "injects" bacteria under the skin it will be dirty and infected. “Road rash” will be a lot larger and may look worse but is actually a lot cleaner. You can use the betadine from your first aid kit to clean around the wound but to actually clean it you can use plain tap water. (Use the large syringe in your first aid kit. 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 them out.
  4. Disinfect the wound. Your first aid kit should include some dilute betadine or a mild chlorhexidine that you can use to clean wounds. Never clean a dogs wound with hydrogen peroxide. It will damage the tissue and cause the wound to heal even slower.
  5. Apply a temporary bandage. This is not a regular bandage with tape and a roll of elastic. A gauze square will work fine on most wounds. Put a small amount of KY to top of the wound to keep any hair from falling in and then just put your temporary bandage on top of it. 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 even dirtier as you are working around it.
  6. Clip the hair around the wound. This is really important to help keep the wound clean. Use your scissors (be careful!) 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.
  7. Remove the temporary bandage, clean off the lubricant, and clean it again if you need to. As long as the wound is clean at this point, you can go ahead and finish.
  8. 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. (Butterfly bandages work great on a small cut.)
  9. Clean open wounds again. Open wounds are more likely to become infected. If the wound is still open clean it again with some water and use a gauze pad to gently scrub the tissue before disinfecting.
  10. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. You should have a small tube in your first aid kit. This layer should be thin, just enough to keep more bacteria from entering the wound. Cover it up immediately so that the dog does not just lick it off.
  11. Put on a final bandage. If the cut is on your dog´s side or back, a square bandage will do. If it is on one of the limbs you can put on a square bandage and then put an elastic 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 their leg.

If you have done a good job cleaning the wound your dog might be okay with simple first aid. A small cut will be healed up within about a week, but if it is a larger case of road rash expect it to take longer.

Will My Dog Need Anitbiotics and Pain Meds?

Wounds that are very dirty (like a bite wound) will probably need antibiotics if not flushed immediately. If the wound needs to be sutured, or it is a large open wound that will become infected, take them into your veterinarian as soon as possible to start antibiotic therapy.

If the wound is severely inflamed or is swollen with pus, your dog has an infection and should be put on antibiotics. Take them in to see your regular vet at that time. Your vet will also need to determine if your dog needs pain meds, based on the severity of the wound.

"Road rash" is dirty and should never be closed.
"Road rash" is dirty and should never be closed. | Source

Should My Dog's Wound Be Closed or Left Open?

A small simple wound may be closed after cleaning. Small wounds that are sutured heal quickly and produce very little scar tissue. If you have cleaned up your dogs wound well, you can try to appose the edges and apply a bandage that will allow it to close and heal even quicker. Some 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 jumped through a glass window and has numerous small wounds that are bleeding, closing them after cleaning is sometimes the best alternative, but if you can apply some pressure and bandage the wounds it is better. 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. These wounds should be left open.

If you take your dog in to your vet for further care, they will probably put a collar on them so that they cannot chew on the wound.
If you take your dog in to your vet for further care, they will probably put a collar on them so that they cannot chew on the wound. | Source

Cleaning Up

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. Most pet superstores sell plastic collars that will keep your dog from reaching their bandage. If you are not able to bandage your dog´s wound, an Elizabethan collar will also prevent your dog from licking on the wound. Dog saliva will not make a wound heal faster.

Check the wound daily to make sure that it is not infected or in need of further treatment. Your dog will appreciate your efforts.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • My dog has a deep cut in his skin. It didn’t hurt the muscle, and it’s a centimeter wide. What is the best treatment for this?

    The best thing you can do for a deep cut, even if it does not sever any muscles, is take your dog to your regular vet and have the skin closed with sutures.

  • My dog has bite punctures on his legs. I tried to pick him up so I could clean them, but he growled and tried to bite me. One of the punctures is very deep. I don’t have the money for an emergency vet check. What can I do?

    Bite wounds are very dirty. The wounds will need to be cleaned thoroughly. The vet will sedate your dog, put a muzzle on him so that he cannot bite, and then flush each wound before putting your dog on antibiotics.

    If you cannot take your dog to a vet the only thing you can do is to clean each wound with povidone iodine. You will need to muzzle your dog first. If you cannot muzzle him so that you do not get bit, there is not another option.

  • My dog has two wounds around the neck, how should I clean them?

    It depends if they are scratches, deep lacerations, bite wounds, etc. If they are bites, they should just be cleaned and left open to heal by secondary intention. If the wound is deep, like a laceration from a knife, it can be cleaned up as described in the article, but will need to be sutured closed by your regular vet.

  • My miniature pincher had a small growth on his shoulder, I noticed it was gone but there is an oozing hole there now. Can I put cortisone cream on it?

    The reason I do not put cortisone cream on a dogs wound is that they lick it. Those creams are not meant to be consumed.

    A much better thing to do is to clean it with povidone iodine. I also treat most small wounds with coconut oil to increase healing time.

  • My dog has been knuckling, and has worn a hole into his foot above the toe, and has gotten it infected. What can I do? I'm on a fixed income, and cannot afford vet bills now that I am disabled.

    Cleaning it up should be no problem. You can use a mild product like povidone iodine. I do not recommend you put any antibiotic cream on the spot since dogs usually just lick it off, but if it is still inflamed some virgin coconut oil might help.

    If your dog is knuckling over though, he may have a neurological problem or be suffering from an orthopedic disease. I realize it is going to be difficult to get him in for an exam, but you need to try to get him to your regular vet for an exam as soon as you can.

© 2012 Dr Mark


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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      25 hours ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Kiran--if the stitches broke down the wound is infected. The only alternative is to let is heal by second intention, which means to leave it open and just let it close naturally. Most wounds do okay if kept clean but you should talk to the vet that did the sutures and ask if your dog should be on antibiotics.

    • profile image

      Kiran R T 

      2 days ago

      Sir my dog has small wound on his left side of his stomach about cms and our vet applied a stitches on it but now he was looses his stitches and the skin had opened so now what can I do

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      2 weeks ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Mavis, being stung in the the face or throat is different than stung on the foot. Where? Swelling needs to be taken down,usually with benadryl, warm compresses sometimes.

    • profile image

      mavis webster 

      2 weeks ago

      my dog has been stung what do i do

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      2 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Breana, if no instructions are given, the person picking up the dog just needs to stand there and ask what to do. Asking someone later is not the answer.

      When a wound is not stitched up immediately, it often fails because the tissue is weak. The only thing to do now is let the wound heal by second intention. There will be a scar, the hair will not grow in to cover it (depending on how big it is). The dog may need to be on antibiotics for a secondary infection, and perhaps daily cleaning of the open wound.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      My friends Weiner dog has a bite wound under the belly and back leg. She took to vet and they stitched it. The stitches didn't hold so she took her back and had it stitched yet again. When my friend picked her up from vet it was wrapped up. No instructions were given. So a day later we tried to unwrap her to find they did not hold once again. What can we do now?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Anita, if it is just an abrasion, and does not need to be sutured, you can trim his nails, clean it with sterile water, and then use coconut oil to promote healing. (Do not use antibiotic cream. He will lick it off and he will be sick.)

      If it is a laceration you will need to take him to your vet for it to be stitched up.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      My Weiner dog was wearing a sweater and it dug into his leg and the skin looks like it open and I can't afford to take too a vet he's 17 yr old and blind so what home remedies can I use for him to fix it

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      How long during the day should i leave a bandage on my pet's foot? It doesn't seem to be healing like it should. I have a antibiotic with steroids in it from my vet. And have been using it for 5 days now.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Ramone, if your dog has a deep cut cleaning it is not enough. it will need stitches so take your dog to your vet.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      My dog was cut by glass and it’s a deep cut what should I do, I cleaned and raped it but don’t know what to do Next

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      9 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Ally, if the cut is not serious enough to take to your vet, clean it as described in the article.

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      My dog was mistakenly cut by sizzers what should I do

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      14 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Rupesh--follow the instructions in the article. If a dog is bitten you DO NOT want to close the wound.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      14 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Priyanka--I cannot suggest medicine without even looking at your dogs wound. It needs to be cleaned, and if you have a vet locally it needs to be looked at and possibly put on antibiotics. I do not know how bad it is.

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      As i was taking him on vehicle he tried jumping and got wound so please suggest me some medicine.

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      What I do when another dog bites my own Dog ?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      15 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Kathy, can you call the vet that did the surgery? He or she may want to see your dog. That is best.

      If you cannot, just keep your dog from licking and chewing the incision and making it worse. An elizabethan collar (a cone) is best. You can get one from a pet store.

      If there is something sticking out, you will need to take him to an emergency vet to have it sutured.

    • profile image


      15 months ago

      My dog got neutered and he licked his stitches and tore one open what should i do

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Jen, I do not understand your comment about not being able to take your dog to the vet because he is big. Your regular vet might want to look into his weight loss.

      If the skin is just peeling, that is nothing to worry about. if it is coming off and exposing the tissue underneath, that indicates a deep infection. He will need to be on antibiotics if that is the case.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Mike, if your dog is walking fine it could just be scar tissue, which does appear grayish. If he is limping he should see your regular vet.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Norma, this is not something to do at home. Contact the vet that did the surgery immediately.

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      Hello my dog got into a fight and he has a deep circular open wound on his ear. The surrounding area's skin are peeling off. I applied betadine to disinfect the wound. He is still skinny even though he eats a lot. What should i do ? I cant take him to a vet since he is very big and we cant give him a bath . Thank you

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      My Chih had C-section this past Saturday but I noticed an open cut to the side of the surgery and can see fatty tissue. it's a lil over an inch. There is fluid coming out of it. Wat can I use to close

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      My dog cut his paw pad and it was healing fine but now it's starting i turn gray. Is that normal?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Mark, you did not mention if the opening was very large or small. It is very hard to blame the emergency vet because they usually have to close a wound as fast as possible and staples are a lot faster. Your regular vets technique may have been better, but at this point you are talking about an old wound, and no suture may hold if the tissue is already friable.

      As I mentioned, I do not know how big this is. If it is small, I would just let it heal by secondary intention and plan on the dog having a scar there. If it is very large, the vet may try another suture technique to pull the subcutaneous tissue together, but do not be surprised if it falls apart again.

      All you can do is keep it clean, keep the dog from licking it and rubbing it on the carpet, and apply the medication as directed.

    • profile image

      Mark Du Ree 

      16 months ago

      My dog had a lump on her hip removed 12 days ago. 3 days later, the stitches tore thru and I took her to the emergency vet, who stapled her up. The following Monday, I took her to her regular vet who was very unhappy with the emergency Vet’s shoddy work. He had us bring her in the next morning to remove the staples and re-work the stitching. I took her in again yesterday because she had a bit of oozing, and they glued some of it again. This morning, her wound opened up again. I hesitate to take her to emergency again because of the not so good job they did last weekend. She is on clindamycin already, but I did go ahead and put a little curaseb (chlorhexidine and antifungal) on it, gently. Then I put some ointment (triple antibiotic with bacitracin etc). Her vet said to bring her in again Monday if it broke open again, and he’d try a spiderweb type of suture technique. Is there anything else you suggest in the meantime?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      17 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Sarah, wounds on the pads can get pretty dirty so need to be cleaned several times a day, not closed up. If you cannot take her to the vet then keep on cleaning it and monitoring healing. If it is not closing, however, you may need to take her in.

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      My dog is 6 months old she cut her paw pad on a piece of glass outside it’s down pretty deep and the cut is towards the edge of her pad but it stopped bleeding by the first day (two days ago) I’ve been cleaning it with cold water and a wound cleaner for dogs I got from oetsmart, I’ve been putting gauz pads and a self adhesive wrap everyday I repeat this Process I’m not in the position to take her to the vet but the wound seems to be looking okay, should I use clear skin glueand go ahead and glue it up or should I let it heal on it’s own and keep doing what I’m doing?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      18 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      You can get over this problem by applying an Elizabethan collar. If you do not, or are not able, to use on, contact your local vet.

    • profile image

      Swati Kochhar 

      18 months ago

      My dog is very hyper and had a minor scratch on his head. I clean the thing and apply ointment but he scratches it everytime and makes it worse. Doesnt let me tie protection collar or anything. Wound is becoming severe. Please advise i am worried.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Great article on cleaning wounds. Our dog had a large lump on his neck and it was caused from a grass seed, It took the vets 4 hours as it was right on his jugular vein.

      It was terrible and he also burnt his paws running around the pool on real hot day. I wrote an article about being aware of this problem. thanks again from another dog lover

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      8 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Or that!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I just rub some dirt in it.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      8 years ago from Alabama

      Thanks for great tips that we can have on hand should we ever need them.

      Sharing this important hub.

    • umairjamal profile image


      8 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan.

      Dog is looking injured

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      The worst wound I encountered was hen my dog had a cancerous lump that old not heal. Great info, Thanks for the tips!


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