Wound Care

Sooner or later, it is likely your dog will get a cut or wound. Some of these injuries can be totally cared for at home, while others will need some veterinary attention. Try to check your dog over daily so that you catch any injuries soon after they happen. Treating injuries right away usually hastens healing time and reduces complications.

Small Cuts

Small cuts that only go through the skin and don't leave gaping wounds can often be treated at home. Flush the wound gently with saline solution, water, or a chlorhexidine wash. Tamed iodine solutions (like Betadine) can be used to clean small cuts as well. The antibacterial properties of iodine and chlorhexidine may help to prevent infections. In general, small wounds will heal fine if left open and kept clean. Applying a small amount of antibiotic ointment may help to keep the tissues moist. Too much ointment can interfere with healing however, so use a light touch! A gaping opening may need sutures to keep the tissues underneath hydrated and healthy.

A wound that has spraying blood usually means a cut artery. Apply pressure directly to the area. If the bleeding stops quickly, observe the wound for the next hour. Only small arteries will stop quickly with pressure. If bleeding starts again, you may need veterinary attention.

Punctures and Large Wounds

Punctures are dangerous wounds. What you can see on the surface may not give you an accurate idea of the damage to tissues underneath. Bleeding may be occurring inside and muscles may be ripped. These wounds tend to close over and allow bacteria to flourish inside. A puncture wound may need daily flushing to keep it open, prevent infections, and to encourage it to heal from the inside out. Large wounds may need suturing or daily wound care, including alternating wet and dry bandages to encourage healing and minimize the chances of infection. Your veterinarian can instruct you in the care needed for these types of injuries and may prescribe antibiotics.

A Broken or Bleeding Nail

Virtually every dog owner will face a broken or bleeding toenail at some point. You may accidentally make a cut that is too close to the quick while trimming your dog's nail. Or your dog might catch and tear a toe-nail on the carpet. Either way, this is very painful for your dog.

If your dog has totally torn the nail off a toe, there is usually very little bleeding. The foot is very painful, and the sensitive red tissue is easy to see. A nail that is cracked but not totally torn off may be even more painful as your dog will push the broken edge into sensitive areas with every step. It makes sense to remove that remaining bit of nail, so a trip to your veterinarian is a good idea. The sensitive tissues underneath will toughen up, and the nail will grow back, but your dog may be sore for a week or more. Try to avoid walking on rough surfaces during that time.

The most important thing to do for a bleeding nail (usually from a too-short trim job) is to stop the bleeding so that clotting can take place. The best way is to hold a silver nitrate stick on the area. This will sting, so you may need help holding your dog. If you don't have silver nitrate, there are other ways to stop the bleeding. Some people swear by sticking the offending toe into a bar of soap or a bowl of corn meal. Keep your dog quiet and don't let him lick the foot until blood has clotted. Also, don't be too afraid of the sight of your dog's blood. Just a teaspoon of blood or even less can look like a huge amount when it really isn't!

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