FAQs on Caring for a Dog’s Wound or Cut

Leave Your Pet's Wound Unbandaged, Unless it's a Paw Cut!
Leave Your Pet's Wound Unbandaged, Unless it's a Paw Cut!

Did your dog get a cut or bite wound? Once you wash and clean the pet’s wound,  owners are often faced with several questions following an injury. Here, we’ll address some of the most common inquiries.

Does My Dog Need Stitches?

If the wound is more than 1 inch in diameter or more than 1/3-inch deep, stitches are recommended.

If you suspect that your dog may need stitches, you must act immediately, as stitches must be applied to a fresh wound. Once the wound is 12 hours old, stitches become risky as the chances of infection rise dramatically.

Is My Dog’s Cut Infected?

Symptoms of an infection include:

  • Swelling;
  • Redness;
  • Slow Healing or the Wound is Getting Larger;
  • Odor; and
  • Pus discharge.

Typically, an infected wound will be very slow to heal. In fact, the wound may even get larger.

In short, the wound will look its worst 24 hours after the injury. After this point, the wound should be improving daily. Redness should be minimal, swelling should decrease and the wound should scab over. If the wound is remaining swollen, red and it’s “weeping” and producing yellow, white or green discharge — especially discharge with an odor — these are all signs of an infection.

Hint: Photograph the wound on a daily basis and use the photographs to document the healing process. Compare the images to determine if the wound is healing, remaining the same or getting worse. And bring the photographs to your veterinary clinic so the vet can view the images.

Does My Dog Need to Visit the Vet?

You will need to take your dog to the vet if:

  • the wound is on the dog’s face, particularly near the eyes;
  • the wound is bleeding profusely;
  • the wound is large, deep or requires stitches;
  • if the dog has suffered a bite wound or puncture wound; or
  • if the wound appears infected.

Also, paw pad injuries are extremely prone to infection and they’re notoriously difficult to heal. So while minor paw cuts may heal on their own, it’s generally best to bring the pet to a vet as this can be an extremely painful and difficult-to-heal wound.

Should I Bandage My Dog’s Wound?

One common mistake that pet owners make: bandaging the wound. It’s almost always best to leave the wound uncovered. A bandage creates a warm, dark environment that’s ideal for growing bacteria that will lead to infection. Bandages also result in decreased air flow and this too promotes bacteria growth.
Bandages are generally only applied to a wound on a dog’s foot, as the bandage serves to prevent wound contamination. A couple layers of gauze, wrapped in a “figure 8” should do the trick. To keep the bandage in place, place a sock over the dog’s foot. You may need to wrap a bit of tape around the ankle region of the sock to keep it in place.

Unless you’re dealing with a paw pad injury, leave the dog’s wound uncovered.

Find out how to make a pet first aid kit so you’re prepared in the event of an emergency!

Photo Source: Esmée on Sxc.hu

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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