How to Care for a Dog’s Wound

You'll Need to Wash Your Dog's Wound Thoroughly to Prevent infection!
You'll Need to Wash Your Dog's Wound Thoroughly to Prevent infection!

Did your dog suffer a cut, scrape or bite wound? Many minor wounds will heal on their own, as long as you provide proper care. One vital element of care is cleaning the wound. The sooner you clean a pet’s wound, the less likely it is to become infected. This is particularly true for bite wounds.

What to do if Your Dog Gets a Cut or Bite Wound

Wound first aid varies according to the precise nature of the wound. If the wound is bleeding, use paper towels or a clean cloth to apply pressure to stop the bleeding. The one exception: puncture and bite wounds. If your dog suffers a bite wound, it’s typically best to allow the wound to bleed for five to ten minutes, as the blood will flush out the bacteria that was “injected” into the wound by the animal’s teeth. (Of course, if bleeding is profuse, apply pressure and immediately transport your dog to the veterinary clinic for treatment.)

Next, muzzle your dog. If you do not have a muzzle, tie a bandanna or a thick strip of cloth around the dog’s muzzle to prevent nipping. Even the most docile loving dogs can lash out when they’re in pain. In the moments immediately following the injury, the dog may not feel pain due to increased adrenaline, but after five or ten minutes, your dog is more likely to act aggressively.

The next step: remove fur from the area around the wound. This will enable you to wash it thoroughly, it will lessen the chances of contamination and you can effectively monitor healing. You can cut the fur away with scissors or you may opt to use clippers (Hint: only use clippers on dogs who are accustomed to them. If you’ve never used clippers on your dog, this isn’t the time to start!)

There must be a 1-inch wide hairless border around the wound. For long-haired dogs, you’ll need to trim a 2- or 3-inch wide border around the injury site. The key: if you flatten the hair surrounding the wound, it should be at least 1/2 inch away from the edges of the wound. Otherwise, the hair will contact the wound, introducing bacteria and the hair could even get matted over the wound as it weeps and drains. This significantly raises the chances of infection.

How to Wash a Dog’s Wound

Washing the wound is an extremely important step. You’ll need the following supplies:

  • A sink (for small dogs) or a bath tub (for large dogs)
  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • Towel
  • Paper towels
  • Hydrogen peroxide or betadine
  • Antibiotic ointment

Begin by flushing the wound for one full minute. Allow the water to run over and into the wound. If your dog has a bite wound, you must flush it for five full minutes. This is vital, as this will be your only chance to thoroughly flush the bite wound; after about 30 minutes, the puncture wound will begin to swell closed.

Next, apply anti-bacterial soap and wash the wound and surrounding area for two full minutes. Rinse for an additional two minutes.

Towel off the dog and use caution to avoid the injury site.

Once the wound has been washed, you’ll need to disinfect it with a no-sting antiseptic such as hydrogen peroxide or betadine. Pour a bit of antiseptic over the wound and surrounding area and allow it to air dry. Do not blow on the wound to dry it, as this will deposit bacteria on the wound site.

Finally, apply a dollop of antibiotic ointment to combat infection.

Minor wounds can be cleaned twice daily until healed. Use the above-mentioned method, but omit the antibiotic ointment after the first day. Bite wounds and puncture wounds always require veterinary attention due to the high risk of infection. Oral antibiotics will be prescribed.

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

Photo Source: Rene Cerney on

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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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