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Dog Wound Care & Healing Stages

No Matter how much you love your dog they will eventually get hurt. Sometimes it's a small scrape, sometimes it is something more serious. Here, our Murfreesboro vets discuss the stages wounds go through while healing, when to see the vet, and how to provide care for minor wounds at home.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

While some dog wounds may be cared for by owners, some wounds should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Wounds that require veterinary care include:

  • Animals bites (these may look small but become infected very quickly if not treated)
  • Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often occurs during dog fights)
  • A wound with a large object lodged in it (ie: a piece of glass or nail)
  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
  • Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties

Stages of Wound Healing

Your dog's wound will go through 4 stages of healing Inflammation, Debridement, Repair, and Maturation.

Inflammation is when the initial wound happens and the immune system activates and sends cells to fight infection and temporarily repair the damage. This causes the initial swelling and redness.

Debridement is where the body removes damaged cells and bacteria.

Repair Is where the wound begins to heal and either the wound is able to knit itself back together which happens if the cut is clean and narrow with a small amount of scar tissue or new cells or if the wound is large the new tissue will be added to replace the damaged section.

Maturation is the final stage where the excess cells and resources that were sent to repair the damaged tissue are redistributed among the body

Providing First Aid to Your Dog

Wounds should be cleaned and cared for as soon as possible to avoid infections. Before beginning first aid on your dog, it is best to have someone to help you restrain your dog.

If you are unsure about what to do, or whether your pet needs veterinary care, remember when in doubt contact your vet, or an emergency vet immediately.

Place a Muzzle on Your Dog

A scared, anxious or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help which is why we recommend muzzling your hurt dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury arises so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent added anxiety.

Remove Any Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound

Look for objects or debris that may be lodged in the wound. This is especially important if the wound is on your dog's paw pad and they may have stepped on something sharp. If you can easily remove the object with tweezers, do so gently. If the object is lodged deeply, leave it and call your vet, or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Clean your Dog's Wound

If the wound is on your dog's paw, you could swish the injured paw around in a clean bowl or bucket of warm water to help rinse out any dirt and debris. If the wound is elsewhere on your dog's body you can place your dog in a sink, bath, or shower and gently run clean water over the wound. You may want to add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water.

Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.

Control The Bleeding

Provided that there is nothing stuck in the wound, apply pressure using a clean towel. While most small wounds will stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds are likely to take longer. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying pressure. If your dog is still bleeding after that time, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital right away.

Bandage Your Dog's Wound

Cover the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or other bandages. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place.

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Area

If your dog is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar (aka the cone of shame).

Ongoing Care

Monitor your pup's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection doesn't set in and healing is proceeding as expected. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day, contact your vet immediately if the wound become inflamed and shows signs of infection.

If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, increasing pain in the area of the wound, or a bad odor coming from the wound, contact your vet right away.

Treatment Using Cold Laser Therapy to Promote Healing

Cold laser therapy (also referred to as low-level laser therapy or Class IV laser therapy) uses focused light to increase blood circulation and stimulate the regeneration of cells. This non-invasive, drug-free treatment is used to treat inflammatory conditions and can also be used to encourage wound healing.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Looking for way to manage your dogs pain? Contact our Murfreesboro vets to book an examination today! 

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