Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Wound Management in Pets

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If your pet experienced a severe trauma or is profusely bleeding from any wound, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

If your pet has a small wound or laceration, this is considered a “YELLOW” – or semi-urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet evaluated by your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within 24 hours. Call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you and if your pet’s condition worsens, call the team back to inform them of the status change. .


No matter how big or how small, if you have ever had a pet with a wound, you understand the panic and frazzled feeling of – what do I do!? It can certainly be a scary experience, but it’s always important to remain calm and take action to help your pet. Keep reading to learn more about common types of wounds, and what to expect for veterinary treatment!

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Getting Care 

The most crucial thing to remember when tending to your pet’s wound is that most wounds should be evaluated by a veterinarian within the first 6-8 hours. After that time, the number of bacteria increases exponentially, and the management of the wound becomes more difficult.  

If you absolutely cannot get to a veterinarian within that period, we advise you to do the following and seek veterinary care as soon as possible: 

  • Keep the wound clean with warm soapy water
  • Prevent your pet from licking at the wound by using an e-collar/cone collar or a t-shirt to cover the wound
  • DO NOT use hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or triple antibiotic ointment
  • DO NOT try to close the wound
  • DO NOT use over-the-counter pain medications (many are toxic to pets) unless specifically directed by a veterinarian 

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Common Wounds & What to Do 

Treatment and urgency level varies based on the type of wound and where it is located. Below are a few treatment options your veterinarian may recommend. Please note that most of these treatments will require sedation or anesthesia. 

  • Lacerations
    • Lacerations can be caused by anything that pulls on the skin and causes a tear. The skin pulls away from the underlying tissues, so lacerations may have large pockets of air beneath them.  
    • Treatment involves cleaning out foreign material and dead tissue, then closing the air pocket and the skin with suture. Sometimes a drain is necessary to let the air pocket close on its own. 
  • Punctures
    • Punctures are defined as a hole poked in the skin. Unlike a laceration, punctures do not cause skin to tear. Puncture wounds can also cause air pockets. If the pocket is not addressed, an abscess can form as the bacteria multiply. 
    • Treatment includes cleaning and establishing drainage with a physical drain or making an incision at the bottom of the pocket. If a puncture wound has already formed an abscess, the treatment is similar. 
  • Abrasions
    • Abrasions are caused by skin scraping on something – usually gravel or cement.  
    • These wounds need to be cleaned, but typically no sutures or drains are necessary.

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  • Torn Toenails
    • Torn toenails usually occur when a dog is running and gets a toenail caught on something. Sometimes the nail will come off completely, in which case it can be managed at home by keeping the area clean.  
    • If the nail doesn’t come off, your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian. 
  • Eye Injuries
    • Eye-related injuries include torn eyelids or trauma to the eyeball itself.
      • Torn eyelids require surgical repair to avoid abnormal healing and the chronic eye irritation that can result 
      • Injury to the eyeball can range from simple corneal lacerations to punctures of the eye. 
        • Corneal lacerations typically heal with a topical antibiotic eye medication from your veterinarian. 
        • Punctures of the eye often require surgery – either specialty surgery or removal of the eye.  
  • Wounds Over Chest, Abdomen, or Neck
    • Wounds over the chest, abdomen, or neck are of special concern. 
    • Wounds over the chest and abdomen run the risk of penetrating a body cavity, which then requires exploratory surgery to remove all foreign material and evaluate the internal organs for damage.  
    • Wounds over the neck are concerning because there are a lot of blood vessels and nerves in that area, as well as the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus. Neck wounds often require more intensive surgical management as well. 

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We hope you never find yourself needing this list, but if you do, please be sure to also contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital for the best course of action. They will also be able to recommend more specific first aid tips, depending on your pet’s exact wound, while you transport your pet to the vet.  

Latasha Sikes, DVM, emergency veterinarian, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Oakdale emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet

 

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