Knowing a little bit about canine first aid is a must for all dog owners. If you don't want to have to run to the veterinarian for every little cut and scrape, learning how to clean a dog wound will come in very handy.
Your dog is bound to get a large cut at some point, and if you know how to clean it, bandage it and care for it until it heals, you'll save hundreds in veterinary expenses. It will also save your dog a lot of stress and anxiety.
He'll be much more relaxed having you tend to his injuries at home than he would if you had to drag him into the vet's office.
Every pet parent should have a first aid kit for their furry friend. You can purchase pet first aid kits on Amazon, or you could buy the items separately and make your own.
Either way, there a few must have items that every canine first aid kit should include.
Whether you want to make your own or you're just looking for guidance on the best kit to purchase for your home, check out our article on the most essential items to include in a dog first aid kit.
Dogs can get injured as easily as we can. They spend a lot of time outdoors, and they are very naturally curious. This is a bad combination that can lead to a lot of cuts and scrapes. It's best if you know how to clean a dog wound just in case your pooch ends up with a boo boo.
How To Clean A Dog Wound: A Step-By-Step Instructional Video Guide
1. Gather supplies
When learning how to clean a dog wound, you'll need a few particular first aid supplies. They include:
- water based lubricant (NOT Vaseline)
- Clippers, scissors or a razor
- Antiseptic solution (like this one)
- Clean towels
- Antimicrobial ointment (like this one)
- Warm water
These things should all be included in your canine first aid kit. You should even keep a small bottle of water in your kit, just in case your pup has an accident during a power outage or outdoors where your water supply may be far away.
FURTHER READING: What You Need To Know About Poison Prevention for Dogs
2. Know when to make a vet appointment
There are instances when you should not clean and treat a dog's wound on your own. If your pet has been bitten by another animal, he needs to see a veterinarian. He may need other treatment that you aren't aware of.
It's best that he's seen by a veterinary professional, no matter how minor the bite wound.
If the wound is deep, it will require stitches to heal properly. The rule of thumb is that if the incision only goes through the skin and the very top layer of flesh, you can feel safe treating it at home. If it goes deeper into the flesh, it's better to have it checked at the vet's office.
If your dog's wound is anywhere near his eye, you should take him to the vet to have his eyes checked. I eye injuries can be very subtle in the beginning. A small scratch on your pet's eyeball could lead to an infection in just a few short days.
If he gets a wound near his eye, there is a good chance that the eyeball was injured too. You may not be able to see, and your dog may not even show symptoms of eye irritation at first. There may also be small amounts of debris in his eye that could be very damaging if left alone.
If you take your pooch to the vet and he is prescribed eye drops, don't worry. It's an intimidating job, but I've written an extensive guide to help you learn how to give a dog eye drops that will teach you how to administer his medication.
Finally, you'll want to make sure your dog sees his veterinarian if the wound will not stop bleeding after 20 minutes. In a minute I'll explain how to put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. If your dog's blood isn't clotting within 20 minutes, there may be an underlying issue that his vet will need to address.
3. How to clean a dog wound
Okay, now that all that is out of the way, let's talk about what to do if your dog actually gets a cut. If the wound is bleeding, you'll need to apply pressure until it stops. Using the clean towel, wrap the wound and gently squeeze to apply pressure.
The bleeding should stop within about 10 minutes, but remember, if it doesn't stop in 20 minutes you need to call you vet immediately.
If necessary, you may need someone to help you restrain your pet or pat his head and try to help him relax while you're tending to his injury.
Let's assume the bleeding stopped and you can continue learning how to clean a dog wound. If your dog is small, you will want to pick him up and put him on a table so you can access the wound easier. If he's a large breed, you'll have to get down on the floor with him.
Apply a small amount of water based lubricant around the wound. This will make removing the fur around the cut easier and help to reduce the risk of contamination.
As I demonstrate in my video, a small pair of clippers is a great tool to keep in your canine first aid kit. If you can get a pair specifically designed to run quietly, that will be less scary for your dog. If you don't have clippers, you can use a pair of scissors or a razor to remove the fur around the wound.
Clippers are the best choice because they virtually eliminate the risk of further injury to your dog. It is very easy to cut your pet with scissors or a razor, so be very careful and go slowly if you're using one of these tools to remove the fur.
Once you've trimmed all the fur around the wound, use the cloth to wipe away the lubricant and all the hair that is stuck in it. Now, rinse the wound with the warm water until all signs of debris are gone. Pat it dry very gently with the cloth.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Preparing Your Dog For An Emergency
Now that you've cleaned the wound, you're going to need to treat it. Apply a non-stinging antiseptic solution. Chlorhexidine is a great choice, and I recommend purchasing 2% instead of 4%, as it is a little bit gentler. You can pick up a bottle on Amazon to keep in your pet first aid kit for less than $15.
Chlorhexidine is affordable and won't sting your pooch when you apply it to his wound. It kills the bacteria and yeast that could cause infection.
After you've applied the antiseptic solution, you'll need to rub on a little antimicrobial ointment. Your dog's natural reaction is going to be to lick the ointment off, so you'll need to sit with his for at least 10 minutes to prevent that.
If you can't keep your dog from licking the wound and irritating it further, you may need to cover it with gauze and medical tape or a bandage. You should clean your dog's wound 2-3 times per day for the first 3 days and then once a day after that until it begins to heal.
Check the wound multiple times each day for signs of infection. If you notice any excessive redness, swelling or discharge, you need to take Fido to see the vet immediately.