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Tending to Wounds at Home

A dog gets its paw bandaged up

Advice for Tending to Wounds at Home From a Vet

Does your dog have a wound? Small, simple wounds can easily be treated at home, but larger, more severe wounds would need a vet visit. These are some things at home that you can do for your dog’s wounds and when you should take them to your vet.

What Can Be Treated At Home?

Not all wounds and scrapes need to see a vet for treatment. Many small scratches and cute can easily be treated at home by cleaning these with soap and water and apply triple antibiotic cream at home. If your dog is not in any pain, topical at-home treatment can be started. Make sure that you keep these wounds clean and apply the cream twice a day to keep them from getting infected.

If you notice any discharge or your dog is in pain, it would be best for your vet to see your dog. They can prescribe them oral antibiotics to help these wounds and cuts heal even faster.

What Needs To Be Taken To A Vet?

Some wounds just need to see a vet. If your dog has a laceration longer than 1 inch, they need to see your vet. Many times, these wounds or lacerations may need stitches. These are other issues where your dog would need to see your vet.

  • A cut that will not stop bleeding: Your vet will be able to help control the bleeding. Some wounds may have cut a blood vessel that your vet will need to ligate to get to stop bleeding.
  • A severe injury: If your dog has a big wound or is in pain, they will need to see your vet. They can start your dog on antibiotics and pain medication to help them heal faster and feel much better.
  • Anything that looks infected: If your dog’s wounds look infected, they should see your vet. Signs are infection is discharge from the wound, a smell or redness. These all warrant a vet visit.
  • A problem that makes it hard for your dog to move: If the wound is so severe that your dog cannot properly move, they should see your vet.
  • Something that you do not understand how to fix: If you cannot figure out how to properly treat the wound at home, you need to see your vet. They can show you what you need to do to treat this wound and start your dog on any medication that they need.
  • Red and puffy wounds: If your dog’s wound is red and puffy, it may need to see your vet. This could be an abscess forming under the skin and a common sign of an infection. Your vet would be able to help you treat this wound and get your dog back to feeling great.

How to Treat a Dog's Wound at Home

If your dog has a wound, there are some things that you can do at home.

  • Stop Bleeding by Applying Pressure: At first, you need to stop any bleeding. You can stop bleeding by applying pressure. If the area is small, you can apply a small amount of silver nitrate power that you may have for your dog’s toenails.

Suppose the area can have a bandage. You can place a bandage around this area to also help stop the bleeding. Just make sure that it is not too tight, or you will cut off blood flow to this area of the body.

  • Cleaning a Wound: Any open wound will need to be cleaned. You can use soap and water or a wound cleaning solution from the drug store. After cleaning the wound, make sure that there is no dirt or debris in the wound.
  • Dressing a Wound: After cleaning and drying a wound or laceration, you can apply triple antibiotic ointment. This should be applied twice a day until the wound or laceration has healed. It is usually best to leave the wounds open so that they can heal quicker.
  • Closing a Wound: If your dog has a large wound or laceration, this will most likely need to be closed with stitches. Many times, this cannot easily be done at home, and you would need to see your vet. They can lightly sedate your dog and put stitches in to close with a wound or laceration.
  • Protecting the Dressing from Your Dog: You will need to protect this area from your dog licking at it. Many times, this may mean that your dog will need to wear a cone collar to prevent them from licking these wounds.

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What Do You Need to Treat a Dog at Home?

If you have a dog, you may want to invest in some basic first aid material to help treat any scrapes, wounds, or cuts your dog may get at home. These are some things that you may need:

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Dressing
  • Equipment to Clean a Wound

You can even buy a first aid kit for dogs that contains many of these things. Just like with human first aid kits, you will need to make sure that everything is fresh and change out ointments every few years.

If your dog has a small laceration or wound, these many times can easily be treated at home. Anything larger than one inch will most likely need veterinary attention. You can get most of the necessities for cleaning your dog’s wounds and applying bandages at the local drug store. If your dog’s wounds ever seem like they are infected or not healing, it is best to see your vet right away. The sooner that your dog’s wounds are treated, the quicker that they return to their normal healthy life.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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