Wound Care and Treatment for Dogs

The two most important goals in treating wounds are to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection. Wounds are painful, so be prepared to restrain and muzzle the dog before treating the wound.

Pressure Dressing

The most effective and safest method for controlling bleeding is to apply pressure directly to the wound. Take several sterile gauze squares (or, in an emergency, use any clean cloth such as a thickly folded pad of clothing) and place over the wound. Apply direct pressure for 5 to 10 minutes. Leave the dressing in place and bandage snugly. If material for bandaging is not available, hold the pack in place until help arrives.

Watch for signs of swelling of the limb below the pressure pack. This indicates impaired circulation. If you see these signs, the bandage must be loosened or removed. Consider adding more bulk to the pack and apply a second bandage over the first. Transport the dog to a veterinary hospital.

Nearly all animal wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. Proper care and handling will reduce the risk of tetanus and prevent many infections. Before handling a wound, make sure your hands and instruments are clean. The five steps in wound care are:

  • Skin preparation
  • Wound irrigation
  • Debridement
  • Wound closure
  • Bandaging