Wound Care 101

Remembering back just a few years ago (ha, ha) to when my age was in the single digits, whenever I got a minor cut or scratch at my grandparent’s house, Grandma would say, “Let me clean that up and we will turn it orange. It will heal right.” This meant scrubbing with soap and water and placing tincture of iodine on the wound. Ah, the sting and orange stain. The treatment seemed to work, or my immune system was up to par. I don’t ever recall getting an infection. She would say, “See, all better!”

What About Your Pets?

How do you take care of their wounds? First of all, as with any injury to your pet, minor or more severe, you are the best judge of how they react to pain. Some pets tolerate wounds and pain well while others will not. Some are much more dramatic or even aggressive in times of pain. Use judgment and caution if your furry friend falls into the latter category. You may even need a muzzle.

Minor Wounds, Cuts and Scrapes

Just like Grandma — wash the area with diluted disinfectant soap and plenty of water. Typically, all wounds are considered contaminated from the onset. As we veterinarians say, “The secret to pollution, is dilution.” Use copious amounts of clean water. Following this cleaning, dry the wound and then apply an antimicrobial cream such as Sergeant’s Vetscription Antimicrobial wound Cream.You might even clean the wound initially with Vetscription Benedene solution, followed by rinsing with clean water. If these wounds are minor, bandaging is probably not recommended. In some pets, the greatest challenge is keeping them from licking the wounds excessively. The “cone of shame” or “the Elizabethan collar” may be warranted in this case.

Severe Wounds

For larger, more severe wounds, or those that are bleeding excessively, use caution first. Your pet will likely be stressed (you will probably be as well and they pick up on your emotions) and in pain and may strike out in uncharacteristic ways. If there is profuse bleeding, apply direct pressure first. Control the bleeding and then apply a bandage until you can seek veterinary care. In these cases, your vet can better evaluate the need for further treatment and possibly oral medications (antibiotics and pain meds) and/or surgery (stitches).

Prevention and Recovery

Normally, most wounds should heal uneventfully in 7-10 days. If your pet has a wound that is not healing, you should contact your veterinarian. Delayed or non-healing wounds can be the result of metabolic disease, cancer or other complications such as infections.

Most importantly, if your pet is injured remain calm and protect yourself initially to prevent further harm. The basics or wound care remain the same as when Grandma treated my wounds: cleaning and disinfecting. Get the area as clean as possible and if you are in doubt about whether or not you can play doggie or kitty doctor properly, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.


-Photo Credit: From flickr by http://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/

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