Click to Learn More – ProCollar Inflatable Elizabethan Collar for Dogs
Cleaning a dog’s wound properly can mean the difference between quick healing and an infected dog wound that requires surgical debridement. Following surgery, pet owners must also clean a dog’s incision to prevent infection. The steps for cleaning a dog’s wound or incision are essentially the same.
How to Clean a Wound on a Dog
The following steps must taken immediately after a dog sustains a cut, bite or other wound. The first step to prevent a dog’s wound from getting infected: perform these steps as soon as possible following the injury, particularly if the dog has suffered a bite wound.
- Apply pressure to stop the bleeding (unless it’s a bite wound or puncture wound – bite wounds should be allowed to bleed for a few minutes to flush bacteria from the wound, providing the bleeding is not profuse.)
- Use scissors or clippers to trim fur from around the dog’s wound or cut. This will provide better access for cleaning, better visibility and increased air flow, thereby decreasing the chances that the wound will get infected.
- Flush the dog’s wound with warm water under the faucet or shower for two minutes. If it’s a bite wound, puncture wound or a contaminated wound (i.e. dirt, sand, etc. ), you will need to flush the wound for five full minutes. This may seem like a long time, but it’s essential for preventing infection in bite wounds and to remove debris and bacteria from the pet’s wound.
- Wash the dog’s wound with anti-bacterial soap like Dial. Wash the dog’s wound for two full minutes to disinfect it and then flush for an additional one minute to rinse away all traces of the soap.
- Use a paper towel to dry the area surrounding the wound. Avoid using towels in the immediate vicinity of the wound, as they tend to harbor bacteria.
- Pour Betadine into/around the wound or apply a generous amount of Betadine to a cotton ball and apply to the wound and the surrounding area (1 inch diameter). If Betadine is not available, hydrogen peroxide will suffice, but after the first day, you will need to use it 1/2 strength to prevent tissue damage and delayed healing.
- Allow the Betadine to air dry in and around the dog’s wound. Do not blow on the Betadine or fan it dry; this will contaminate the wound. Allow it to air dry.
- Apply a dab of triple antibiotic ointment or Neosporin® during the first 48-72 hours. After the first 2-3 days, skip this step.
After the initial cleaning, you can steps 1 and 2.
Do not bandage a dog’s wound unless it’s located on the dog’s paw or unless directed to do so by your veterinarian. Paw pad injuries are one of the only cases when a dog’s wound should be bandaged with 2-3 layers of rolled gauze and a couple layers of self-adhering bandage. The paw should be bandaged in a figure 8 pattern, with the loops around the dog’s paw and the dog’s ankle.
How to Clean a Dog’s Incision After Surgery
The steps to clean a dog’s incision are essentially the same as mentioned above. You will not need to perform steps 1 or 2, since there should not be any bleeding and the veterinary clinic will have already shaved the area surrounding the dog’s incision.
Often, a dog’s incision will weep fluids. This can create a scabby, crusty area that makes it impossible to clean the incision properly. So before cleaning the dog’s incision, apply a warm, damp washcloth to the area for 10-15 minutes (you will need to re-moisten the washcloth a few times to keep it warm). Once the crusty discharge has softened, it will wipe away easily.
Then, pet owners can clean the incision by following steps 4 through 8 above.
Other Tips for Caring for a Dog’s Wound or Incision
Click to Learn More – Top Paw Mesh Muzzle for Dogs (to Prevent Nips While Cleaning a Dog’s Wound or Incision)
You must prevent the dog from licking the wound or incision. You will need to purchase an e-collar (also known as lampshade collars or Elizabethan collars) from the veterinary clinic or a pet supply store like PetSmart. Another great option is the inflatable e-collar. These are smaller, more comfortable for the dog and they’re very effective in preventing a dog from licking a wound.
In addition, while cleaning a dog’s wound or incision, the process may be quite painful for the dog. So it may be necessary to muzzle the pet to prevent a dog bite. If a muzzle is not available, a makeshift muzzle can be created with a bandanna, a strip of fabric or similar. (Note: You should never leave a muzzled dog unattended!)
Owners of a wounded dog will also need to know when to take a dog to the veterinary clinic. Learn how to know if a dog needs stitches, and how to know if it’s okay to treat a dog’s wound at home and when professional help is best. To learn more, read Dog Wounds and Surgical Incisions – Should I Take My Dog to the Vet? on The Sick Dog Blog.
(Pictured – ProCollar Inflatable Elizabethan Collar for Dogs, Available at PetSmart. Price Varies Depending on Size.)
(Pictured – Top Paw Mesh Muzzle, Available at PetSmart. Price Varies Depending on Size.)