How to Clean a Dog's Wound

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Nervous dogs may require muzzling during wound treatment.
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While prompt, proper wound care helps your pet heal quickly, negligent wound care often leads to serious complications and expensive veterinary bills. After stopping the bleeding and determining that your dog has not sustained any serious injuries, it is relatively easy to treat the wound.


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First Aid

Anytime you discover that your dog has suffered a wound, provide basic first aid and check his condition. Stop any bleeding by placing a gauze pad on the wound and applying firm pressure for five to 10 minutes. When the bleeding stops, look for other injuries such as broken bones, or signs of shock such as a weak pulse or low body temperature. If you observe any of these symptoms, gently wrap your dog in a blanket and transport him to an emergency veterinary hospital. If your dog is not seriously injured, take him into your bathroom or another clean place with access to running water.


Cleaning the Wound

Before touching your dog's wound, wash your hands with soap and water. Next, clean the area around the wound with a surgical scrub solution, such as diluted providone-iodine. Do not use full-strength providone-iodine; dilute it with tap water until it is light brown. Trim the hair around the wound so no hair can touch it. Rinse the wound thoroughly with warm tap water. Do not use soaps, shampoos or hydrogen peroxide on the wound.


Applying the Bandage

Once you have cleaned the wound, you decide whether or not a bandage is appropriate. Most wounds to the extremities benefit from a bandage, but bandages are usually impractical and ineffective for upper body wounds. Don't cover some wounds --particularly those that occur on the head or neck -- in bandages to facilitate treatment. Proper wound bandages include three layers. Place the first layer – usually a gauze pad – protects the wound, but is permeable to allow fluids to pass through to the second layer. The second layer pads the wound and absorbs the fluids that pass through the first layer. Adhesive tape or elastic wraps form the third layer, which serves to keep the lower layers in place.


Long-Term Care

Changing the bandages every day enables you to apply fresh topical antibiotic ointment daily. Inspect the wound during each bandage change to ensure the wound looks healthy, has no debris and hair has not grown into the wound. Try to keep your dog from licking the wound, which will prolong the healing process. If the wound is severe, you may need to place an Elizabethan collar on your dog until it heals.


When to See the Vet

If the wound is severe, take your dog to the veterinarian to receive treatment. Puncture wounds always require veterinary attention. Additionally, wounds that will not stop bleeding or expose underlying bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons or internal organs mean an immediate trip to the veterinarian. If your dog's wound starts displaying signs of infection, such as pus draining from the wound, consult your vet. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to fight off or prevent infection, and pain medications to keep your dog comfortable. Complete the full course of antibiotics if the vet prescribes them.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.