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Dog Wounds and Surgical Incisions – Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

January 12, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog First Aid and Veterinary Emergencies, Dog Injuries, Dog Surgeries and Incisions, Dog Symptoms, Dog Wounds and Infections, General Dog Health, Symptoms of Infection in Dogs

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If your dog has a wound, it’s important to know when you need to take the dog to the veterinary clinic. You need to know when it’s okay to treat a dog’s wound at home and when a dog needs stitches, antibiotics or other treatment.

Immediately following a dog fight or accident that results in a dog with a cut or other wound, the first step is to clean the dog’s wound – this will need to be done regardless of whether the wound will need stitches or additional treatment at the veterinary clinic. Pet owners should always clean a dog’s wound at home before bringing the pet to the veterinary clinic, unless there is serious bleeding or other injuries that could be life threatening (i.e. broken bones, eye injuries, possible internal injuries from getting hit by a car, etc.)

“Is My Dog’s Wound Infected? Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?”

There are several situations that warrant a trip to the veterinary clinic for antibiotics, stitches or wound debridement (cleaning the wound and removing dead or damaged tissue.) These include:



  • Symptoms of Infection in the Dog’s Wound
  • A Dog with Bite Wounds (oral antibiotics are required to prevent infection in a bite wound)
  • Wounds Involving the Eye or Eyelid
  • Wounds Involving the Dog’s Mouth or Lips
  • Wounds that Need Stitches
  • Dog’s Wound is Bleeding Severely

How Can I Tell if My Dog’s Wound Need Stitches?

How can you tell if a dog’s cut needs stitches?

Generally speaking, a dog’s wound needs stitches if it’s deep (1/2 inch or deeper) and if the wound is greater than 1 inch in length; the large gap between the edges of the wound makes healing a slow process.

If you suspect that your dog needs stitches, you need to act quickly. Veterinarians (and “people doctors” for that matter”) try to avoid stitching wounds that are older than 12 hours due to the high risk of infection.

When it comes to the question of, “Should I take my dog to the vet?” there is one very important rule of thumb: when in doubt, take the dog to the veterinarian. If you are not confident handling a dog’s injury, it’s always best to seek the assistance of a veterinarian. Remember, if you delay treatment for a wound or infection and the situation worsens, it will be more expensive for the owner and more painful for the dog.

(Pictured: Pet Botanics E-Collar. Available at PetSmart. Price Varies Depending on Size.)

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Is My Dog’s Wound Infected? – Tips for Monitoring a Wound on a Pet

January 09, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog Injuries, Dog Symptoms, Dog Wounds and Infections, Symptoms of Infection in Dogs

Learn tricks to monitor a dog's wound or incision for symptoms of infection. (Diego Jaimovich Photo)

Wondering, “Does my dog have an infected wound?” Or perhaps your dog has had a recent surgery and you’re wondering, “Is my dog’s incision infected?”

Whatever the case, The Sick Dog Blog has some great tips to help dog owners monitor a dog’s wound or incision for infection.

Is My Dog’s Incision Infected? – Photograph the Wound

Generally speaking, changes in a pet’s wound are gradual. Since a dog owner checks and cleans the dog’s wound several times a day, it can be difficult to tell if dog’s wound is healing since the process is gradual.

So here’s a tip: take digital photographs of the dog’s wound or incision once a day. Photograph the wound in the same light (i.e. the same spot in the same room) and ensure that the dog is standing or sitting in the same position for each photo.

Then, upload the photographs of the dog’s wound or incision into your computer and compare the photos. Sometimes, you won’t see a real difference when comparing photos from consecutive days. But if you compare a photo from day one and day four, you should see a noticeable difference (hopefully, for the better).

Over time, the dog’s wound should be looking better – less swelling, less redness, etc. If the dog’s wound is not healing or if the incision looks worse — not better — it’s time to return to the veterinary clinic for an exam and some antibiotics.



Symptoms of an Infected Wound or Incision in a Dog (or Other Pet)

Symptoms of an infected incision or wound in a dog include:

  • Wound odor – A dog’s wound should never have an odor. Sometimes it’s just a vague, unpleasant odor. In more severe infections, the odor is sickenly sweet, similar to rotting meat (after all, it is, technically, rotting flesh).
  • Green, yellow or white discharge – Clear or slightly bloody discharge is normal, especially during the first couple days following a dog’s surgery or injury
  • Redness around the wound or incision – Some wound redness is normal; but after the first 24 hours, it shouldn’t get worse – it should slowly improve after day one
  • Swelling around the dog’s incision or wound – Like redness, some swelling around a dog’s wound or incision is normal, but it should not get worse after the first 24 hours – it should gradually improve.
  • Dog’s stitches separating or pulling apart – An infected incision will pull apart, creating a gap between the edges of the wound. The stitches may appear very taught and tight.
  • Blackened skin around the wound or incision – Necrotic tissue (dead tissue) can be seen in severe wound infections. Don’t mistake dried blood/scabs for necrotic skin – apply a warm, wet washcloth to the wound or incision for about 10-15 minutes; if it’s dried blood/scab, it will wipe away after applying the warm, wet compress.

If you suspect that a dog’s wound or incision is infected, do not delay in getting the dog to the veterinary clinic. Infections do not go away on their own; they only get worse. If ignored, a dog’s infected incision or wound will require surgery to clean the wound and to remove the dead tissue.

In severe cases, if the dog’s infected wound is ignored, the infection will spread to the blood stream and the dog will eventually die from sepsis. A dog with sepsis will require lots of antibiotics and hospitalization (read: lots of money) if he is to survive. So when it comes to infections, don’t delay in getting a dog to the veterinary clinic.

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