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Dog Wound Care: Complete Guide

If you know how to care for your dog's wounds you can take care of them in emergencies if a vet is not nearby. In this post, our Corpus Christi vets provide tips on how to provide dog wound care at home.

Dogs Have Accidents Too

Even the calmest and most easygoing dog may encounter an unexpected mishap resulting in a cut, scrape, or other injury necessitating immediate attention. However, seemingly minor wounds have the potential to escalate into severe infections. Therefore, when uncertain about whether veterinary care is needed, it's advisable to prioritize caution.. Taking your canine companion to the vet for a wound as soon as it occurs could save your dog a lot of pain, and you a lot of money in the long run.

Wounds That Require Veterinary Care

Even though pet parents may possess the skills to administer basic first aid, some wounds demand professional assessment and treatment to prevent complications.. Wounds that require veterinary care include:

  • A wound with a large object lodged in it 
  • Wounds caused by a car accident or other trauma
  • Injuries around the eyes, head or that lead to breathing difficulties
  • Animal bites (these may look small but become infected very very quickly if not treated)
  • Skin that has been torn away from the flesh below (often occurs during dog fights)

Putting Together Your Canine First Aid Kit

With a well-equipped first aid kit readily accessible, you can swiftly attend to cuts, scrapes, or other minor mishaps, providing immediate relief. Below are a few things you should always have on hand in case your dog gets hurt.

  • Self-adhesive bandages
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towels or rags
  • Muzzle 
  • Soap or cleaning solution
  • Pet antiseptic solution (ie: 2% chlorhexidine)
  • Antimicrobial ointment suitable for dogs
  • Sterile bandages

How to Care For a Dog Wound

It's essential to clean and tend to wounds on your dog to prevent infections. Before administering first aid to your pet, have a way of restraining your pup and providing overall support. Having someone to help you with these tasks ensures that you can effectively and safely address your dog's injury, minimizing their discomfort and facilitating a smoother healing process.

If you are unsure about what to do, or whether your pet needs veterinary care, remember that when it comes to your animal's health it is always better to err on the side of caution. When in doubt contact your vet, or an emergency vet immediately.

Place a Muzzle on Your Dog

A scared, anxious, or hurt dog may bite while you are trying to help which is why our team recommends muzzling your hurt dog before beginning first aid treatment. It's a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog before an injury arises so that your dog is used to the process and how the muzzle feels. This will help to prevent adding to your pup's distress. 

Check For Foreign Objects Lodged in The Wound

Look for objects or debris that may be lodged in the wound. This is especially important if the wound is on your dog's paw pad and they may have stepped on something sharp. If you are able to easily remove the object with tweezers, do so gently. If the object is lodged deeply, leave it and call your vet, or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Clean your Dog's Wound

For wounds located on your dog's paw, you can gently swish the injured paw in a clean bowl or bucket filled with warm water to effectively rinse away any dirt or debris. If the wound is situated elsewhere on your dog's body, consider placing your pet in a sink, bathtub, or shower and softly running clean water over the affected area.

You can add a small amount of mild baby shampoo, dish soap, or hand soap to the water to aid in cleansing the wound thoroughly. Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog’s skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.

Control The Bleeding

Provided that there is nothing stuck in the wound apply pressure using a clean towel. While most small wounds will stop bleeding within a couple of minutes, larger wounds are likely to take longer. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes of applying pressure. If your dog is still bleeding after that time, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital right away.

Bandage Your Dog's Wound

If you have antibacterial ointment on hand you may want to apply a small amount to the area before covering the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or other bandage. Avoid using products that contain hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids. Use a self-adhesive elastic bandage to hold the gauze in place. 

Prevent Your Dog From Licking The Area

If your pooch is trying to lick the wound it may be necessary to have your dog wear an e-collar.

Ongoing Care

Monitor your pup's wound at least twice a day to ensure that infection doesn't set in and healing is proceeding as expected. Clean the wound with water or a pet-safe antiseptic solution twice a day, and contact your vet immediately if the wound becomes inflamed and shows signs of infection.

If you notice increasing redness, swelling, discharge, increasing pain in the area of the wound or a bad odor coming from the wound, contact your vet right away.

Stages Of Wound Healing in Dogs


The first stage of healing is all about controlling bleeding and getting the immune system working. Without going into too much detail, blood clots are forming and blood vessels are constricting to limit blood loss in the wound.


Wound fluid, dead tissue, and immunologic cells form pus which is designed to flow as a liquid from the wound and carry debris with it. The cells called to the wound in the inflammation phase are now actively working on consuming dead tissue and cleansing the area.


Collagen begins to fill in the wound to bind the torn tissue together. This will take a couple of weeks to complete. New blood vessels begin to grow into the area from the uninjured blood vessels nearby. The wound edge begins to produce “granulation tissue,” the moist pink tissue that will fill in the wound.


Once plenty of collagen has been deposited, scarring can form. The scar becomes stronger and stronger over time as new blood vessels and nerves grow in and the tissue reorganizes. The final result will never be as strong as un-injured tissue but should achieve approximately 80% of the original strength.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our vets today if your dog requires urgent veterinary care in Corpus Christi.

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Everhart Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Corpus Christi companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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