At some point almost every dog owner will be faced with his or her pet being injured. Hopefully these injuries are minor and can be taken care of quickly so your pooch can get on the fast road to recovery! We want to help you prepare for the unexpected, so here is a first-aid guide on how to handle a situation where your dog receives a cut or abrasion.
Your Dog Might Be In Pain
Even the most placid of canines may lash out if they are experiencing pain, so use caution when dealing with them. You can’t take their reactions personally, as they have no other way to express their fright and discomfort. Before handling your animal you may want to consider using a muzzle. If you do not have a pre-made one available (a well fitted muzzle should be a part of every pet first aid kit!) you can fashion one out of a necktie, pair of pantyhose, or a length of soft rope.
How To Fit A Homemade Muzzle:
- Begin with approximately 20-inches of suitable material. This length can vary according to your dog’s size.
- Make a loop in the middle of the rope, large enough to fit loosely over your dog’s muzzle.
- Calmly slip the loop around your dogs muzzle and immediately tighten it.
- Bring both loose ends of the material down and cross them under your dogs chin.
- Bring the loose ends back behind the ears and tie them snugly.
The concept of stopping bleeding in a dog is the same as it is in a human. Use steady pressure with a clean piece of gauze or a towel (depending on the size of the wound). For bleeding on limbs you can also elevate the limb to slow the blood flow and aid in clotting. For a wound that is bleeding heavily you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Cleaning The Area
In the case of superficial wounds or abrasions (which can even be caused by irritation due to the rubbing of a collar, scratching, etc), you can treat them much like you would your own skin. Wash them with a bit of warm water and antibacterial soap, clip back any fur that may get into the wound and cause further contamination and apply some non irritating antibacterial ointment to the cut (such as Neosporin). Attempting to bandage the wound will usually only encourage dogs to lick at the bandage, as they do not usually put up with such things! If needed, you can obtain an Elizabethan Collar (aka a “lamp shade”) at a local pet supply store to prevent further irritation of the area. Watch even minor wounds for redness, swelling or foul odors – even the smallest cut can become infected.
In More Serious Cases
Bite wounds, serious lacerations and deep cuts all have a potential of becoming infected and need to be treated by a veterinarian. Often your pet will be placed on antibiotics, as it is common for abscesses to form under certain types of wounds. Occasionally there is damage to the tissues under a wound that will need surgical treatment as well. Deep wounds may need sutures for closure in order to heal properly.
If your dog has an imbedded object or is impaled on something, do not attempt to remove the object yourself! Rush him/her to the closest emergency clinic. Dislodging the object can actually do more harm than good.
Seeing one’s own dog in distress is painful to us as owners too. But our canines depend on us to help them out when they are injured and we must be calm and ready to act wisely. Be prepared and have a plan in case an emergency arises!