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Dog Wound Care & Healing Stages

Has your dog sustained a wound? It's essential to know how to treat your pooch's injuries, and when to visit a vet. In this post, our Douglasville vets discuss how to treat your dog's wounds at home, when you should make an appointment with your vet, and how cold laser therapy can help encourage healing. 

Dog Wounds

Regardless of the type of lifestyle your dog lives, they can still have an accident that causes a scrape, graze, cut, or another injury that requires care. Though these wounds may appear to be small, they can still lead to serious infections. 

Therefore, if you are unsure whether you should bring your pup to the vet, it's always best to take precautions and contact your veterinarian. Bringing your dog to the vet for treatment immediately after a wound has occurred could save your pooch a lot of pain – and you a lot of money on costly treatment for infections or other complications. 

Wounds in Dogs That Need Veterinary Care

While some wounds can be treated at home, there are some circumstances in which a dog's wound will need veterinary care as soon as possible. Here are some wounds that require treatment by a veterinarian:

  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma 
  • Injuries around the eyes or head, or that lead to breathing difficulties 
  • A wound with a large object lodged in it (e.g. a piece of glass)
  • Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (this often happens during dog fights)
  • Bites from animals (these may look small but can quickly become infected) 

First Aid Kit for Dogs

It's a good idea to have a pet first aid kit, along with some knowledge on how provide wound care, in case your dog experiences a minor injury. Here are some items to have on hand so you can be prepared if your dog gets hurt:

  • Spray bottle
  • Scissors
  • Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
  • Cleaning solution or soap 
  • Pet antiseptic solution (i.e. 2% chlorhexidine) 
  • Muzzle (consult your vet about using this, depending on the circumstances of the injury)
  • Tweezers
  • Sterile bandages
  • Clean rags or towels 
  • Self-adhesive bandages

Giving Your Dog First Aid 

Clean and treat your dog's wound as quickly as possible to help prevent infection. Before starting first aid on your dog, have someone assist you in restraining your pooch. This person can also provide support, as you'll likely be feeling at least some stress. 

If you aren't sure where to start, or whether you should take your dog to the vet or not, remember that it's always best to practice caution when it comes to your four-legged friend's health. When in doubt, call your vet, or take your pup to an emergency animal hospital immediately. 

Muzzle Your Dog 

A scared, hurt, or anxious dog may bite while you are trying to treat them. Your vet may recommend muzzling your injured pooch before beginning first aid treatment. You might even practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury occurs, so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This may help reduce your pup's distress if an injury does occur and you need to put a muzzle on them to treat them safely. 

Look for the Foreign Objects Lodged in the Wound 

Closely inspect the wound to confirm no objects or debris are lodged in it. This step is even more critical if the wound is on your dog's paw pad, as they may have stepped on a sharp object. If you do discover an object lodged in the wound and are able to remove it easily and safely with tweezers, do so very gently. If the object is deeply lodged, leave it and call your veterinarian right away, or bring your pooch to a veterinarian for emergency care

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.

Manage the Bleeding

If your dog doesn't have anything stuck in their wound, with a clean towel apply pressure. While most small wounds should stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds will probably 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.

Contain Your Dog's Wound

Do you have an antibacterial ointment handy? If so, apply a small bit to the wound before covering it with another bandage or piece of sterile gauze. Don't use products with hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. You can use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to keep the gauze in its place.

Keep Your Dog From Licking Their Wound

Is your dog trying to lick their wound? They might have to wear a cone or e-collar. 

Ongoing Care

You must monitor your dog's wound twice a day to ensure it is healing properly and isn't infected. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day, and contact your vet immediately if it becomes 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.

Healing Stages

There are three main stages of the healing process for dog wounds. The process is quite similar to humans and involves the following healing stages:

Inflammation - A dog's body’s natural instinct after sustaining an injury is inflammation, just like if you were to sprain your ankle or sustain a cut. This response happens almost immediately and it’s the first stage of healing.

Debridement - Debridement sets in after just a few hours, ridding the wound of dead tissues and cells and killing off any bacteria.

Repair - The repair phase starts a few days after the initial trauma and is much less alarming than debridement and inflammation.

How Cold Laser Therapy Can Help Encourage Wound Healing in Dogs

Cold laser therapy (also referred to as low-level therapy or Class IV laser therapy) is a therapeutic treatment that's becoming more widely used for helping pets recover from injury and illness. 

This non-invasive, drug-free treatment is often used to encourage wound healing and treat inflammatory conditions in dogs. Cold laser therapy promotes circulation and encourages cell regeneration. 

During a typical cold laser therapy session, the vet waves a handheld laser wand back and forth over injured tissue, producing a pleasant sensation that many dogs find soothing or relaxing. 

As long as the veterinarian performing the treatment is well-trained and experienced in correctly administering cold laser therapy, there should be no pain involved for your dog. 

Our veterinary team at Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is always happy to address any questions or concerns you may have about cold laser therapy or any other treatment options. After assessing your dog's specific needs, your vet can recommend the most suitable treatment for wounds or other conditions. 

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.

Are you wondering if your dog's condition can benefit from integrative therapies, including cold laser treatments? Contact our Douglasville vets today. to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Douglasville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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