Yes! Even small wounds may look superficial but often puncture wounds and especially bite wounds can track deep under the skin, requiring veterinary treatment. If you are concerned it is always best to seek veterinary advice.
Is there anything I can do at home?
If the wound is severe and there is bleeding, then covering the wound with a bandage or cloth and holding pressure on the wound will help to slow the bleeding. Bear in mind that injured animals are often very stressed and may bite or scratch, even if they usually wouldn’t, so don’t put yourself in danger by doing this. Phone your vet to let them know you are on the way. For more minor scrapes or grazes the wound can be cleaned with clean water to remove any debris.
It’s best not to apply any creams or disinfectants without directly asking your vet if it is safe to do so, some can be irritant to animal skin. if there is a laceration, we don’t recommend cleaning it yourself, this potentially could make it worse.
What treatment do wounds need?
It will vary depending on the severity of the injury; from cleaning, antibiotics and pain relief to needing an anaesthetic to flush and remove any damaged skin and stitching the wound. sometimes if a wound is infected it will need a drain to be left in place for a few days. Sometimes smaller wounds for example a puncture wound from a bite or infected wounds may need to be left open.
Why do pets need a full general anaesthetic to treat wounds?
Unlike with humans, who often just need a local anaesthetic for minor wounds to be stitched, animals don’t hold still for their wounds to be stitched. Local anaesthetic stings a lot too! It would be very stressful for most pets to be stitched while conscious, so it is far kinder, and safer, to do it while they are asleep.
Is it ok to allow dogs and cats to lick their wounds?
No! there’s an old wife’s tale that dog saliva has magical healing properties, but this is not true. Pet’s mouths are full of bacteria (think of all the gross things they sometimes eat!) so, licking a wound will make it very likely the wound will get infected.
The rough surfaces of our pet’s tongues will also traumatise the wound and can make the wound worse very quickly, so it is absolutely crucial to prevent them from licking or biting at any wounds.
How do I prevent them from licking at their wounds?
There are various ways to stop pets from traumatising their wounds, the most common one being the Buster collar – aka E-Collar, lampshade or ‘Cone of Shame!’.
Few pets enjoy wearing these and often they will become a bit upset initially when they’re put on, but most will settle with it given a bit of time. Sometimes a buster collar isn’t appropriate so there are lots of alternatives, such as inflatable tube-shaped collars, soft cone shaped collars, t-shirts or pet shirts, or it the injury is on a paw then paw covers can be used. A combination of these methods can be used to stop self-trauma. Speak to a vet or vet nurse if you need advice on how to stop your pet licking.
How long do wounds take to heal?
Uncomplicated wounds like small cuts, or surgical wounds, take around 10 days to heal. Usually we remove any stitches after about 10 days. Wounds in areas where there is more movement (like over joints) or on paw pads may take longer, like 14d – 3 weeks. Some wounds may need to be left open to heal, in some cases this can take up to 3-6 weeks or longer than that in a small number of cases if the wound is very large or if there are complications like infection.
If your pet has an emergency please don’t hesitate to contact us.