Your dog can get a wound in a number of different ways. Some are more serious than others, but all wounds that bleed, or become pus-filled and festering, should be examined by a veterinarian. There are some steps on how to clean an infected wound on a dog if you cannot immediately get to a vet, or between visits. Here are a few things that cause injuries and how to treat them to prevent an infection. Also, we will discuss what you can do after the injuries become infected.

Causes of Wounds

a man holding his dog's paw

1. Abrasions

When the surface layer of your dog’s skin is scraped or abraded it creates a rash-like wound. There can be inflammation, bleeding and bruising. Since a dog’s coat is a protective measure against dirt and bacteria, when that layer of protection is removed, the exposed skin can be susceptible to infection.

One of the most prevalent ways dogs get abrasion-like problems is from scratching and itching excessively. Abrasions can also occur without notice while they are playing, or running free.

Dogs frequently get abrasions on their backs when they hastily rush under a fence, scratching their backs. Most dogs will never miss a beat if they get an abrasion, but you should pay close attention to the area. Look for signs of puffiness, swelling, or an odorous discharge.

Following the proper steps on how to clean an infected wound on a dog are the same measures that you can use to help prevent an abrasion from becoming infected.

2. Lacerations

When your dog gets a wound that cuts or opens the skin, these are called lacerations. These cuts usually do not present a terribly serious problem, until they become infected. An open wound anywhere on your dog’s body is susceptible to infection if not properly treated.

Deep cuts can be exceedingly problematic and prone to infection. They often have jagged edges and can easily get dirty. Lacerations can also affect several layers of your dog’s skin and even cut into muscle.

3. Punctures

When things pierce the skin on a dog, they leave a puncture wound. What might look like a small hole on the surface, can be a deep wound that penetrates the skin into muscle tissue. Because these types of wounds are holes, they are very prone to accumulating dirt and grime.

Bacteria can enter and build up in a puncture would very rapidly. Most pet owners do not have the necessary things or the expertise on how to clean an infected wound on a dog if it is a deep puncture.

There is also a problem if the puncture wound was caused by the bite of another dog or animal. These types of wounds require immediate veterinarian attention. Wounds caused by cats are piercing injuries that quickly become infected because they try to close over rapidly trapping bacteria inside.

Bites from other dogs can be deep and tear muscle tissue. Wild animal attacks present another level of seriousness and can rapidly become extremely serious. You should pay extra close attention for puncture-type wounds since your dog’s heavy coat can conceal them. A deep puncture wound can scab over quickly causing an infected abscess.

Diagnosis and Treatment

a dog wearing a protective collar

A veterinarian should complete the diagnosis of all levels of open wounds, other than minor abrasions. The onset of infection can be extremely rapid in many types of wounds. Give your dog the best chance of avoiding an infection by having the severity of the injury checked by a professional.

If you have no choice but to temporarily treat the wound yourself, follow the steps presented below.

How can I tell if my dog’s wound is infected?

If your dog has incurred a wound, be it from a lacerating object or a dog bit, sometimes the open wound inflicted on your pet may heal on its own. At other times, it can be deceptive. What may appear as a simple wound may actually be extensive and deep. There are certain symptoms you need to be aware of to recognize infections.

  1. Observe
    Does your dog exhibit any bleeding? Most wounds bleed, but it usually stops after a small blood loss. In case the injury does not stop bleeding, and a significant amount of blood is expelled, bring your pet to the vet to avert any life-threatening situation.
  2. Indicate any sign of swelling
    Is there swelling around the wound area? Swelling often occurs as fluids, which usually consist of pus, proceed to the infected area. When this happens, swelling can be soft or hard, and the vet is advice is essential.
  3. Smell
    Does the wound have any odor? A foul odor usually indicates an infected would and may require antibiotics. Further treatment may include thorough cleaning and skin debridement.
  4. Assess for redness
    Check the wound for redness. Any change in the skin color around the injury is an indication of infection. Moreover, if there are hot spots on the skin or wound, the dog should be brought to a vet for infection treatment.
  5. Measure
    Assess the wound’s length by measuring it. If the wound measures over half an inch long, it may need sutures from the vet.
  6. Do further observations
    Observe your pup for behavioral changes. If your dog exhibits a change in its eating habits, appears lethargic or depressed, has an increased temperature, it should be brought to a vet for a checkup.

Main Steps to Treat Your Dog’s Wound on Your Own

  1. Cut the hair back as short as you can. This way, you will be able to safely go around the wound, and gain access to it.
  2. Use compression to stop any bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop, seek emergency help.
  3. Clean the wound with a clean, damp cloth.
  4. Gently clean the area again with a different clean cloth and peroxide.
  5. Lightly tamp the area to stop any excessive seepage.
  6. Wrap the wound gently with gauze or a clean sheet cut into strips.
  7. Get your dog checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Once the seriousness of the wound has been professionally determined, treatment methods can be applied. If the wound is severe, your vet may recommend a mild antibiotic to help prevent infection. If another animal caused the wound, especially if the source animal is wild, your vet will check your dog for other issues like rabies.

You should always have your dog’s shot records available if you are taking them to an emergency animal hospital or to someone other than your regular veterinarian. Follow the treatment procedure recommended to help prevent infection.

Cleaning an Infected Wound

a happy golden retriever

The procedure for how to clean an infected wound on a dog and not hurt the dog, or make the infection worse is somewhat similar to the steps necessary if you cannot get your dog immediately to a vet. If you sense that your dog’s wound may be becoming infected you can help to prevent the infection from worsening or eliminate it all together.

If you do suspect a new wound is becoming infected, don’t hesitate to have it checked out by your veterinarian. However, since vet visits can be expensive, here is how to clean an infected wound on a dog and not make the problem worse.

How to clean an infected wound on a dog and not hurt the dog is key number one. Cleaning the wound efficiently is going to mean you need to get close to the wound. The use of an Epsom salt is beneficial in disinfecting the wound. On the other hand, the use of hydrogen peroxide should be avoided because it has a different effect on dogs. When you apply a hydrogen peroxide and see some bubbles, it is an indication that the peroxide is destroying the cells that your pet’s body needs for wound healing. Some dog owners prefer treating dog bites using homeopathic remedies such as manuka honey, which has a high antibacterial activity.

Effective Tips on How to Clean an Infected Wound

  1. If you have a smaller dog, lift it onto a table where they can lie safely. Larger dogs can be helped onto a bench or bed so you can get closer to the wound. Be sure to put a heavy blanket or thick towel under the dog.
  2. You’re going to need clean, soft cloths. Rough material is uncomfortable and can open the wound. Try not to disturb any scabs that have formed, as scabs indicate good healing.
  3. If the scab turns a yellowish color or begins to emit a foul smelling odor, have the wound checked by a veterinarian. This is a sign that an infection is developing under the scab.
  4. Using warm water and a mild antibacterial soap, wash the area around the wound. Again, be attentive not to disturb the scab. Take another dry, soft cloth and pat the area dry. Follow up with another clean cloth using a non-stinging antiseptic solution, but avoid using hydrogen peroxide.
  5. Dry pat the area after this step. If your vet has given you an antimicrobial ointment, apply this gently to the wound. Put a light bandage over the wound to keep your dog from licking off any ointment, or disrupting the healing process.

The whole idea behind knowing how to clean an infected wound on a dog and not make it worse relies on gentleness. Be gentle with your cleaning and use soft clothes. Lightly tamp the wound, trying to avoid rubbing that will irritate the area.

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