How to Treat Cuts on Dogs

By Henry Cerny, DVM, MS

Lacerations in dogs can range from small to large and superficial to deep. They can be anywhere on your dog’s body and the first warning sign may be bleeding.

If the wound is small and superficial (like a scrape) then you may be able to treat it by gently cleaning the wound. I prefer Vetericyn as it is gentle and will not interfere with the wound healing process, but gentle wound iodine or chlorhexine may be used. A topical ointment such as Neosporin can be applied two or three times daily until healed.

Related: A checklist for your dog’s first aid kit
If the laceration is deep, place a bandage or cloth over the wound to control bleeding and keep the area clean. Seek veterinary care as soon as possible as deep lacerations can become infected leading to more serious complications. For deep lacerations the veterinarian will clip and clean around the area and close the wound with sutures. A course of antibiotics are often prescribed with deep lacerations.

By Dr. Sherry Weaver

Small and superficial cuts may heal well by simply rinsing with clean water and applying an antibiotic ointment three times daily. Flush enough to remove all dirt and debris from the area. It is ok to gently clean the edges of a cut with warm water daily to soften any crusts, but do not scrub the healing cut or apply hydrogen peroxide. Even when diluted, hydrogen peroxide can harm newly-produced healing tissues.

Most cuts that are not deep and gaping will look improved within three days. Any cut that is moist, draining, has reddened, swollen edges after three days should be examined by a veterinarian.

Lacerations are wounds that cut the skin through to the deeper underlying layers. They may be deep enough to involve underlying veins, arteries, nerves, ligaments, muscles, tendons, or even bone. They are usually caused by accidental injury, abuse, or fights. There may be a great deal of bleeding if an artery was torn. Underlying structures such as ligaments or muscle may be visible. First aid depends on the extent of damage, the degree of bleeding, and the cause of the laceration. If profuse bleeding is occurring, do not attempt to clean the wound as you will encourage more bleeding. Bring the animal to the veterinarian.

A checklist for your dog’s first aid kit

By Josh Weiss-Roessler

All good dog parents want to keep their pups safe, and that means being prepared for potential doggie disasters. One of the best ways to be ready is to create a first aid kit for your four-legged friend.

But what exactly do dogs need in a first aid kit? Some of the items are probably obvious, but others may be a bit more surprising. That’s why we decided to put together this comprehensive list of what you should include, as well as why.

Wound spray
There are all kinds of ways that your dog can get cut, scratched, or otherwise suffer injury to their skin, both around the house and outdoors. Vetericyn, for example, is non-toxic, won’t sting, and is designed to clean and speed healing.

Self-cling bandage
If your dog suffers a serious laceration or other injury, you’re probably going to want to cover it with a bandage after using the wound spray. Look for self-cling bandages that won’t stick to your dog’s fur to avoid painful removal later.

Bandage scissors
Unless you want Fido looking like a mummy when you bandage him, include a pair of bandage scissors in your kit that are designed to cut through gauze, clothing, and (yes) bandages.

Eye wash and Ear wash
If your dog gets some kind of pollutant or other contaminant in her eyes or ears, it can cause itching, stinging, burning, or worse. Dog-safe eye wash and ear wash can help you flush out the problem materials with a dropper nozzle and can even be used on any dressing needed.

Dog cone
The problem with eye and other head-related issues is that your pup is going to do whatever he can to scratch and rub at the area with his paw. Prevent this from happening by using a dog cone, which will also prevent your dog from being able to chew at stitches from surgery or lick at a hot spot during treatment. Your vet may also refer to this as an Elizabeth Collar, or e-collar for short.

Muzzle
Even a normally calm and balanced dog may lash out when injured, and he may also bite at a wound, making it worse. Muzzles, like the Funny Muzzle, serve the dual purpose of keeping a nervous or aggressive dog from harming others or bringing harm to himself.

Leash
The leash is an important tool to have on-hand because it’s a way to gain control of your dog at a time that she might be panicking and try to run away. You want to be able to focus on the injury, not just keeping your dog from fleeing.

Hydrogen peroxide
If your dog consumes poison, you might not have time to get them to the vet. Depending on the poison, making your dog vomit can be an important tactic until you can get them to treatment. One safe and effective way to induce vomiting and get the poison out of their system is to force them to drink hydrogen peroxide. Always keep a fresh bottle on hand.

But don’t assume that hydrogen peroxide is the answer in every situation.

Important phone numbers
You want to be able to reach help fast in an emergency situation. Include the phone number for your veterinarian, and your emergency vet clinic.

Medical records
If you have to take your dog to seek help from someone other than his regular veterinarian, it can be valuable to provide them with his medical background as well as proof of his rabies vaccine.

With these items, you’ll be prepared to help your dog through most dangerous situations that they’re likely to come across, but remember, it’s always best to seek veterinary care. A first aid kit should just be used to re-mediate an emergency until you can get to the vet or to address very minor injuries like a superficial wound.