How to Apply a Warm Compress for Dogs

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

A warm compress can be a useful part of a treatment plan for alleviating pain from arthritis, injury, or surgery. A warm compress for a dog wound can help keep the area clean, and it can also help to open clogged glands around the eyes. Be sure to follow your veterinarian's instructions and take precautions so you don't burn your dog.


Take care with hot water around your pet.
Image Credit: WilleeCole/iStock/GettyImages

Video of the Day

Using a warm compress for a dog's eyes or wound

Discuss with your vet when it is appropriate to use a warm compress. Heat therapy has several benefits. It is useful in relieving pain and discomfort from arthritis and strenuous physical activity. It also increases blood flow in the tissues and promotes healing. When applying a warm compress for a dog wound after surgery, the heat can help to fight infection and encourage the drainage of fluid.


A warm compress for your dog's eyes may be recommended to help drain clogged glands. This can be useful in conditions such as blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation, which causes the glands of the eyelid to become clogged.

The warmth of the compress can help to soothe pain, but there are times when a cold compress is the preferred treatment option. Avoid using heat in the first three to five days after a surgery or injury when the swelling is acute.

How to apply the compress

You can make your own warm compress by filling a tube sock with rice.
Image Credit: Carol Yepes/Moment/GettyImages

Be sure to follow your veterinarian's instructions and warnings, as each dog's medical needs may vary. You can purchase a commercial hot pack or compress to use on your pup. Follow the package instructions to heat the compress and then wrap it in a towel before applying it to your dog.


You can make your own warm compress by filling a tube sock with rice. Tie a knot in the sock to contain the rice and heat it in the microwave. Alternatively, wet a towel with warm water and squeeze out the excess water. Place the towel on your dog and cover it with a second dry towel.

Treat the area for up to 15 to 20 minutes. If you are using a damp towel, check it throughout the treatment and use warm water to heat it up again if needed. A small face cloth wet with warm water is a good option for applying a warm compress to the eye. Place the warm towel on your dog's eye for five minutes twice per day.


Risks and dangers

If you are using a commercial product, make sure there is a towel between your dog and the heat source. Applying the hot pack directly to your pup's fur may be too hot and can cause a burn. If you are using a damp towel or tube sock with rice as the compress, be sure to check the temperature on your own skin for at least 30 seconds to ensure it is not too hot.

Always use a clean cloth and wash your hands before applying a warm compress. This is especially important when you are treating a wound, such as a surgical incision, or when you are cleaning your dog's eyes, as you want to keep the area clean and decrease the risk of your dog developing an additional infection.


Don't let your dog chew on the compresses.
Image Credit: Sadeugra/E+/GettyImages

Stay with your dog throughout the treatment to make sure the compress stays in place. Make it a calm and enjoyable experience for your pup by offering praise and a chew toy if your pup needs a distraction. Don't allow him to chew on the compress, especially if you are using a commercial hot pack or an electric heating pad. Watch for signs of discomfort and make sure the compress isn't too hot.