How to Treat Your Pet’s Wound

Last year I decided to get first aid certified because I just thought, “What if something happened?” Obviously, I never hope a situation occurs where I need to use this training, but knowing that I’m capable of doing the right thing when the need arises is reassuring to me, as it can save a life. The training I took was for humans, but some of the same knowledge can be applied when we talk about first aid for pets.

To begin, check out this blog article for a comprehensive list of items to include in a pet first aid kit for your home. Keep in mind that any at-home remedies for a wound do not substitute for the care a veterinarian provides. An important part of first aid training is knowing the right time to call for medical attention. Let’s discuss when this needs to happen for your pet.

Mild scrapes (think of your child’s typical scraped knee) can be treated at home with the right materials. These are called abrasions, which occur when the surface of the skin is scraped or scratched, and may result in some bruising, hair loss or bleeding around the area. To treat this wound at home, your main priorities are to 1) stop the bleeding and 2) prevent infection. Here’s how this can be done:

  1. To stop any bleeding, apply some pressure to your pet’s wound with gauze, paper towels or anything clean and absorbent.
  2. Place a jelly lubricant on top of and around the wound.
  3. Shave the hair around the wound, being careful to not clip the skin and to break any scabs that may have already formed.
  4. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe away the lubricant and loose hair.
  5. Wash the wound in warm water to eliminate dirt and debris and pat dry.
  6. Apply an antiseptic to the wound to eliminate possible bacteria and yeast growth.
  7. Apply an antimicrobial ointment to help heal the wound.
  8. Ensure your pet doesn’t lick the wound for a while. An Elizabethan collar, or “cone of shame,” may be needed for this.

Continue to wash and treat the wound at least a few times a day. If the wound becomes worse or does not heal after one week, seek your veterinarian for help.

Your pet could also have lacerations or puncture/bite wounds. Lacerations are cuts or broken areas of the skin, either clean or jagged, which will bleed and causes pain around the area. Puncture/bite wounds create small holes in the skin that will cause pain, bleeding, bruising, redness and swelling around the wound. These types of injuries are much more serious and require the quick attention of your veterinarian.

Your vet will provide the quickest treatment to your pet’s wound. When they are discharged, follow all directions for home care provided by your veterinarian to ensure a speedy recovery. Keeping the wound clean while it heals and administering all medications prescribed (if any) are just a few crucial steps.

If you want to gain more instruction on how to provide first aid for pets, the American Red Cross has classes for pet first aid that teach wound care, administering medicine, breathing and cardiac emergencies, and much more. For smart phone users, you can also download the American Red Cross’ Pet First Aid App that is loaded with tips and videos. You can even call emergency numbers like your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center straight from the app. It costs 99 cents, which I believe is an absolute steal of a deal.

Having this knowledge ready to go when you need it can make you a more confident pet owner!

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