Wound Care and Treatment for Dogs
Debridement means removing dying tissue and any remaining foreign matter
using tissue forceps (tweezers) and scissors or a scalpel. Debridement requires
experience to determine the difference between normal and devitalized tissue,
and instruments to control hemorrhage and close the wound. Accordingly, wounds
that require debridement and closure should be treated by a veterinarian.
Fresh lacerations on the lips, face, eyelids, and ears are best sutured or stapled to
prevent infection, minimize scarring, and speed recovery. Lacerations longer
than half an inch (1.25 cm) on the body and extremities probably should be
closed, but small lacerations may not need to be. Small V-shaped lacerations
heal best if they are closed.
Puncture wounds are caused by bites and pointed objects. Animal bites, in
particular, are heavily contaminated with bacteria. Bleeding may occur. There
may also be bruising, particularly if the dog was picked up in the teeth of a
bigger dog and shaken. Puncture wounds are often concealed by the dog’s coat
and may be easily overlooked until an abscess develops a few days later.
Treatment of a puncture wound requires a veterinarian. It involves
surgically enlarging the skin opening to provide drainage, after which the area
is irrigated with a dilute antiseptic surgical solution. These wounds should
not be closed.
Bandaging a Wound
Wounds may be left open or bandaged, depending on their location and other
factors. Wounds on the head and neck are often left open to facilitate
treatment. Many wounds of the upper body are difficult to bandage and do not
benefit greatly from being covered.
Bandaging has the advantage of protecting the wound from dirt and
contaminants. It also restricts movement, compresses skin flaps, eliminates
pockets of serum, keeps the edges of the wound from pulling apart, and prevents
the dog from biting and licking at the wound. Bandaging is most effective for
wounds to the extremities. In fact, nearly all leg and foot wounds can benefit
from a bandage.