Wound Care

Disclaimer: Deciding how a wound should be treated is a complex matter. The following instructions should only be used to augment the advice of a veterinarian based on a physical exam of your pet, and should not substitute for proper veterinary care.

Seek medical attention for any of the following wounds:
o Wounds that continue to bleed after applying direct pressure for five full minutes.
o A puncture wound occurring from a nail, oyster shell, wood or plant material, fish hooks or other sharp objects.
o A gaping wound or any wound you think might need stitches.
o A wound that has a fatty layer, white or yellowish tissue or muscle that is exposed.
o A wound that has visible foreign material such as gravel, dirt, glass or metal.
o Any type of burn.
o Any type of bite.
o Any wound causing severe pain.
o Any wound which causes lameness or loss of movement below the wound.
o Any new wound if your pet has a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, immune deficiency, bleeding disorder, or is on prednisone, cortico-steroids, or chemotherapy.

Surgical Incisions:
Surgical incisions should be monitored for signs of swelling, hemorrhage, drainage or discharge, redness, excessive pain or dehiscence (the incision is beginning to open). If the pet is licking the wound excessively, it may indicate an early problem with the incision.
Incisions should also be protected from water or moisture, excessive movement or activity, or other inquisitive and rambunctious pets.

Do not apply hydrogen peroxide, ointments, witch hazel or other astringents without the advice of a veterinarian. Do not bathe the pet or allow it to go swimming until the sutures are removed.

Do not administer any kind of pain relief without first consulting with your veterinarian. Certain types of over the counter pain relief may be dangerously incompatible with drugs already administered to your pet at the time of surgery.

Most sutures should be removed in 7-10 days by the veterinarian that placed them.

Hot Packing:
Some types of wounds will need to be treated by “hot packing”. These are wounds that may be contaminated and need to be encouraged to drain.

Start with a clean face cloth or small towel. Immerse the towel in extremely warm tap water in a large bowl. You may want to add just a little betadine to the water as a disinfectant, but it is not necessary. Allow the towel to thoroughly warm up in the water and then remove and wring out all the excess water. Apply the cloth to the wound and gently compress it. Keep your hand on the towel as you apply gentle pressure, that way you can determine if the cloth is too warm. If it is uncomfortably warm to you then it is too warm for the animal. You may need to periodically re-submerge the cloth in the warm water to reheat the compress. Continue this for 15 minutes, gently removing crusts, debris, discharge, ect. When done the wound should appear pink and clean. This procedure should be repeated three times a day.

Foot Soaks:
Some types of wounds of the feet of pets may be treated by foot soaks. Again, a veterinarian should initially make this determination. A good technique is to fill a plastic cup 3/4 full with very warm water, several teaspoons of Epsom salts, and a small amount of gentle disinfectant such as betadine, povidine or chlorhexadine. Do not add too much disinfectant as it may stain the pet’s fur or any furniture onto which it might spill. In a comfortable position for both you and your pet, immerse the foot into the cup for 10-15 minutes. During this time, you might need to discard and replace the solution in the cup to improve the quality of the soak. Do this two to three times daily, as directed by your veterinarian.