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What should I do if my dog has an open wound?

Golden cocker spaniel at the vet advice

Your dog has an open wound? Here is what you need to do.

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Dogs love getting out and about on walks and being active. Unfortunately, this means that our beloved pooches can sometimes get a cut or injury – an open wound. 

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS

Updated on the 19/11/2020, 21:34

An open wound refers to any wound on your dog that has broken through the skin layers. Although this article is designed to give you a bit of extra information, you should always seek advice from a vet if you are concerned that your pet might have an open wound.

How to treat dog bite wounds

Dog teeth are covered in lots of bacteria, even if they are brushed regularly. This means that there is a high risk of infection from a dog bite wound. Your dog is also likely to feel very sore, which can make their behaviour less predictable. If the wound is bleeding, and your dog will let you, apply firm pressure with a clean dressing for five minutes. If the bleeding has not stopped after this time, phone a vet.

If your pet has been bitten by another dog, you should always take them to see a vet for a proper assessment and so that they can advise you on the best dog wound care. If the open wound on your dog is not bleeding, do not try to touch the area around the wound, as you may introduce more bacteria to the area and further increase infection risk. If you think your pet might have an infected dog wound, they will require veterinary treatment.

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How long does a wound on a dog take to heal?

The length of time it takes for a wound to heal can vary depending on lots of factors, such as how deep or large it is, and whether or not it is infected. A vet might ask you to keep a buster collar on your pet to prevent them from licking the wound, as this can delay wound healing by causing further irritation to the skin. Infected wounds can also delay wound healing. Take a photo of the wound each day so that you can compare and track its progress. If you think there has been no change to a wound after five days, you should go back to the vet for a check-up.

How can I heal my dog’s wound naturally?

Skin wound healing is a natural process. The body is great at repairing itself. Stopping your pet from licking the wound and following veterinary advice is the best way to help support this process. Do not use any products that have not been recommend by a vet. Products that are advertised as ‘natural’ still have side effects and may not be suitable for use with your individual pet.

How do you treat a puncture wound on a dog at home?

Puncture wounds, which are those caused by an object piercing the skin and creating a small hole, should never be treated at home. They might look small, but they can often be hiding much more damage underneath the skin surface. Puncture wounds can also be caused by sharp objects such as rusty nails, barbed wire and grass seeds. Sometimes there will be a part of these objects left behind in the wound, known by vets as a ‘foreign body’. A vet can assess the wound and advise you on the best way to treat your dog’s wound.

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What can you clean a dog's wound with?

If your dog has a wound, you should first contact a vet for advice before attempting to clean it. If you are unable to take your pet straight to the vet practice then you might be advised to clean the wound at home. Saline solution (salty water) is best for this. You can make up a saline solution by dissolving salt in lukewarm water (approx. 1 teaspoon per 500ml). Ideally, try to use water that has previously been boiled or is suitable for drinking. Avoid touching the area as much as possible and stop immediately if your dog is showing any signs of irritability. Do not put yourself at risk of a nip from your pet – their behaviour can change when they are feeling sore. Even wounds that look clean to begin with can become infected, so take care to monitor the wound according to the vet’s advice.

Can you use human antiseptic on dogs?

Do not use human products on dogs. The anatomy and physiology of a dog (how their body works) is different from that in people, so some products can be poisonous to pets. It can also increase the damage to a wound if you apply any kind of chemical. A vet will be able to advise you on the best antiseptic to use – and whether one is necessary.

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Can I use peroxide on a dog wound?

Never use peroxide on a pet or their wound. This can cause significant tissue damage and can also be dangerous for owners to handle. Please speak to a vet about whether a topical product is suitable for your pet.

How can I heal my dog's wound fast?

Follow a vet’s advice to comply with any treatments that have been prescribed. Preventing your pet from licking the wound will also help, as licking slows the healing process. Bear in mind that a dog can be very determined to remove any prevention (such as a collar) that you've applied to be able to keep licking that wound.

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How do you tell if a dog wound is infected or healing?

When a wound is healing, any swelling will start to decrease and the size of the wound will get smaller. You should also see the skin starting to heal. If a wound is infected, you might see that the wound is weeping or smelly. Infected wounds can also have increased swelling and redness, and the nearby skin might feel hot. If you are worried that your dog has an infected wound, you should go to the vet.