Using Betadine for Dog Wounds

Dilute betadine until a weak tea color

What is Betadine?

Among the many items and products you must have in your dog's first aid kit, make sure betadine is in it. Betadine is an over-the-counter topical antiseptic meant to reduce the number of microorganisms on the skin. It contains povidone-iodine, which is a potent antispetic. For many reasons, veterinarian surgeons use it when preparing the skin for surgery. It is also great for dog wounds. Here are some factors to consider:

  • It burns. You must always dilute it prior to its use. Betadine is normally of a dark brown color, so you'll have to dilute it with water until it's a weaker tea color. Applying it as is without diluting, can damage tissue. If you are looking for ratios, one part of it to 10 parts water is a good guideline.
  • What about hydrogen peroxide? You may have heard about this alternative, but hydrogen peroxide doesn't have much value as an antiseptic and actually kills healthy tissue, which is why it foams. According to Vet Street, "The fizz created when it interacts with tissue makes it seem like something good is happening. Hydrogen peroxide, in fact, inflames the healthy skin around a wound, which increases healing time. Recent studies have shown that it’s not even an effective antibacterial." The only reason you see hydrogen peroxide in a dog's first aid kit is because it can be used to induce vomiting.
  • What about alcohol? Do not use alcohol, because it burns. It is also a a drying agent and causes a delay in the healing process. The main reason why alcohol is in a dog's first aid kit is to disinfect thermometers after use for fevers.

The main products used as antiseptics for dog wounds are therefore betadine (povidone-iodine) and Nolvasan (chlorhexidine diacetate). In this article, we will be mainly focusing on betadine.

How to Use Betadine for Dog Wounds

There are several betadine formulations on the market. Before choosing one, it's a good idea to do some homework. For instance, consider that the scrub version contains povidone iodine and a detergent, making it suitable only for use on intact skin. You therefore want to look for a version containing 10% iodine in it that doesn't contain the detergent and has lower cytotoxic effects.

First, Dilute

Even though the solution is 10 percent, you still need to dilute it. Never use full strength!

  • Dr. Karen Becker suggests to dilute the povidone iodine with warm water until it is the color of iced tea. If too light, add more iodine. If too dark, add more water. If you want clearer directions then consider using 1 part betadine solution to 10 parts warm water mix.
  • The Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook suggests making a 0.2 percent irrigation solution. Pour 10 ml of 10 percent betadine into two quarts of water.


  1. After diluting it, it can be applied to the sores with a washcloth by gently wiping.
  2. Wipe up to twice a day for minor sores and skin infections.
  • Another great feature of povidone iodine, according to Karen Becker, is that it's also safe for the dog to lick the area after being treated.

Note that while this is a good antiseptic, consider this:

  • In a study using beagles, chlorhexidine diacetate 0.05% demonstrated significantly more bactericidal activity than povidone-iodine (betadine) and longer residual effects.


I recently got certified in pet first aid and CPR, and I was taught to always treat any wound as contaminated unless it's in a sterile environment. All wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. So, when dealing with any wound, your top priority should always be to stop the bleeding and do every thing possible to prevent infection. This is where betadine comes in handy. Discovered by Bernard Courtois in 1811, it is capable of destroying or inhibiting the development of microorganisms in living tissue. However, its use on open wounds is a bit a subject of controversy.

  • There are those who disapprove the use of antiseptics on open wounds, and those who believe that their use is helpful in favoring and promoting wound healing while keeping infections at bay.
  • Infections can delay the healing because of the toxins and waste material left behind that create issues. Along with the fact that microorganisms stimulate a persistent production of immune mediators. Invading bacteria also competes for oxygen and nutrients necessary for healthy cells to promote healing.
  • Those who disapprove antiseptic use are concerned about antiseptics being cytotoxic. Cytotoxic is a term that simply means "toxic to cells." In other words, antiseptics have the potential to kill cells that are essential for healing, just as antibiotics potentially kill both bad and good bacteria.
  • While it's true that betadine is cytotoxic, it's also true though that in low concentrations, it's significantly less cytotoxic. According to The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat:"Tincture of iodine is irritating, painful and damaging to tissue when applied to open wounds, and can delay healing. Tamed iodine or povidone-iodine retains the antiseptic properties of tincture but has none of its adverse side effects."

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Comments 5 comments

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the useful information, alexadry. I use betadine on my dogs. It's good to learn more about it.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks AliciaC, Betadine solution is also in my dog's first aid kit.

Cheryl Fleischer-Smith 3 months ago

My beagle has sores between his toes caused by hair or allergies my vet says. I have used this tea type mixture and all I can say is the swelling goes down and he seems comfortable. I do worry about him licking it tho, before I do a rinse cup of water. I found this link and am glad I did. Vet just wanted me to treat with steroids and antibiotics. Too many steroids is not good and I feel the same with antibiotics. I just worry about the licking...he is quick.

Sherry 2 months ago

Thank you very much for the information ,because I was not for show its been a long time since I had a pet and its not even mine grand son is going off to College

Misty snow 11 days ago

I have a bigger boxer and she got into a big fight with my other boxer and she's got some pretty good gashes on her legs the vet only gave her antiobiotics can I use the betaine on them

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