When your pet gets hurt: a guide to treating and healing wounds

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As pet owners, most of us will have to deal with some form of a wounded pet at one time or another. Some injuries are minor, like a torn nail, and others are more severe, such as a deep laceration or bite. While dealing with this can be a bit traumatic for us, staying calm will ensure your beloved pet does not respond to any panicked behaviour.

When deciding which actions you will need to take, let’s first look at some wound types. Firstly it is critical that any wound that penetrates the body wall, which is a break in the muscle protecting the internal organs, is large and traumatic and bleeding profusely, or involves exposed bone, needs to be seen by your vet immediately. Wounds to the eye should also be seen by your vet as soon as possible. Try your best not to stress or panic because your pet will sense it and they will react accordingly. This will cause their stress levels to increase speeding up their circulation and causing more bleeding. Try to gently cover the area and apply light pressure to stop any bleeding. But be careful. Remember, they may be in pain and could bite or scratch when you are attempting to help.

Beyond the more severe wound types that require immediate action, it is important that ALL wounds be evaluated and treated properly, even if they don’t seem that bad. For example, in a bite wound that appears to only have a small puncture bacteria can be introduced from the biter’s mouth into your pet’s deep tissue. This can result in a severe infection therefore it is best to err on the side of caution and to consult with your vet for any pet wound.

We all want wounds to heal as quickly as possible. This can only happen if prompt and appropriate treatment is administered. Healing can be hindered by not properly flushing and decontaminating wounds, by using the wrong products to clean and treat wounds and by not having the appropriate dressing to close or protect the wound.

Common wounds on pets include bites, abscesses, eye wounds, and lacerations. Often the initial process of treating minor wounds can be done at home when you first notice your pet has been injured. Remember in extreme wounds as mentioned above time is of the essence so getting your pet to the vet asap is paramount. Let us look at what you can do at home, however, to clean and provide essential protection to the area before contacting your vet for follow-up wound care.

Firstly with a dog, it's good practice to use a muzzle if you have one, just to make sure you aren't bitten while treating your pet's wound. Otherwise, have someone assist you in holding the animal's head to keep their mouth away from your hands. With cats, it's always useful to have someone else hold the animal if possible. Wrapping your pet in an old towel can help keep claws away from your skin and can also help to calm them down. It's important that you, or someone else, gently and safely restrain your pet while you try to assess and treat the wound.

Remember, your pet may be in pain and likely nervous from the trauma that caused the wound and is, therefore, more likely to bite or scratch you.

Cleaning and bandaging your pet’s wound at home

1. Stop the bleeding

If a wound is bleeding, you'll need to stop the bleeding before cleaning the wound. Stopping bleeding is easy if you have a bottle of Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care. Trifectiv contains hypochlorous acid which is often referred to as our very own miracle molecule. Trifectiv stops bleeding! Apply direct pressure to the site using several layers of gauze wet with Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care (non-sterile surgical gauze, 75 x 75 mm, available from all pharmacies). A few minutes of direct pressure will mostly stop the bleeding, after which you can proceed to wash the wound out with more Trifectiv, by spraying all open areas thoroughly. Be gentle and do not rub!

2. Remove the fur around the wound

The fur around the wound may be matted with debris and blood, making it more difficult to get the wound clean. The fur can also get into the wound, preventing healing and even causing infection. Gently wash the wound using a hosepipe or lukewarm water with a sponge and bubble bath in a bucket. If possible remove any long or matted fur near the wound with scissors, especially if it is in the way of cleaning the wound. This may be tricky if your pet won't keep still, if that is the case just make sure to wash any debris and blood off as well as you can.

3. Disinfect the wound

We recommend that you use Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care to easily disinfect the wound. Spray Trifectiv onto and into all areas of the wound, or into the eye in the case of an eye injury. We recommend you always have a 100 mL bottle in your First Aid kit. You will not need to use anything else for disinfection if you have Trifectiv Plus. The active ingredient will kill all bacteria, viruses and fungi that may be present in the wound without stinging or burning your pet. You can then use a couple of layers of gauze, wet Trifectiv Plus, on the open wound. Hold these in place with a non-waterproof plaster or crepe bandage. Change these dressings daily. If your pet has puncture holes from a bite, insert the nipple of a 2 mL syringe that has been filled with Trifectiv into the hole and irrigate the bite marks by flushing the wound in this way.

Now you know how to correctly clean and disinfect pet wounds. But just remember, first aid is often just that — first aid. If your pet has suffered a bite wound, deep puncture, bad cut, or a nasty abscess, after administering first aid and cleaning the wound, you need to take them to your family vet.

How do you know your pet's wound is healing?

  • The wound is improving when any swelling and bruising gradually disappear. There will also be re-growth of the fur starting in the area.
  • Partially or completely open wounds: while they take the longest to heal (4 to 8 weeks) these will have obvious changes to indicate they are healing:
    • The intense redness of the wound fades, which points to less inflammation.
    • There will be wound contracture – meaning the wound will continually look smaller and smaller. You will see smooth, thin, and pink tissue forming around the edges.
    • The depth of the wound gets shallower with time.

Patience and diligence are important during the process. And lastly, please call your vet immediately if anything does not seem normal. It's always better to be safe than sorry — any delay can be dangerous for your pet and costly for you!


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