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In this lesson, you'll be learning how to treat your pet's wounds. We'll be covering two techniques – one for body wounds and another for limb wounds. And, of course, we'll help you understand when to provide care at home and when to seek professional veterinary care.

You may not think about it often, but an intact layer of skin is our best protection against all the threats of the outside world. However, when your pet suffers an injury, that skin layer breaks and leaves your pet susceptible to infections that are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other pathogens.

Getting immediate wound care is really important when your pet suffers an injury. And as you've learned in this course, step one to helping your pet is always to make sure the scene is safe and that it's also safe to approach your pet.

However, even once you determine scene safety, you should still muzzle your pet to make sure he doesn't bite you. Remember, an injured pet or a pet in pain may lash out.

Pro Tip #1: After making sure the scene is safe, you'll need to know what kind of bleeding injury you're dealing with. If you suspect venous or arterial bleeding, make sure to get that under control first, before even thinking about wound care, and get your pet to the vet as quickly as you can.

If your pet's wound is only a surface wound (as in a capillary bleeding incident), you should be able to get that under control pretty easily and quickly and then move on to wound care.

Warning: Certain wounds, as you know, require veterinary care, like those venous or arterial bleeding wounds. However, any wounds that cover a large surface area should also warrant a trip to the vet, even if the wound isn't bleeding that much.

Steps to Treat Body Wounds

1. Get your sterile lubricant from your first aid kit and apply a generous amount into the wound. You can't really use too much.

2. After filling the wound with lubricant, grab your electric clippers and clip the area around the wound. Leave a wide margin so it's easier to work with.

Pro Tip #2: When using clippers, make sure the bottom or flat end is flush against your pet's skin, rather than at an angle. Trimming at an angle may cause some skin irritation or razor burn.

3. Clean your pet's freshly clipped skin using isopropyl alcohol and a gauze pad. Wipe the area around the wound but be careful not to get any alcohol in the wound.

4. Get a large amount of warm water and pour it over the wound. Clean the entire area in and around the wound.

5. Wipe away any remaining lubricant and obvious debris like dirt or pebbles.

6. Decide whether or not to bandage the wound. For minor wounds, you may be able to leave them uncovered. They'll typically scab over and heal in several days.

Steps to Treat Limb Wounds

For wounds on a limb, you should be more concerned about infection than just about anything else, as your pet will need to go outside or to the litter box, etc. Which means bandaging the wound is more of a priority than with body wounds.

Let's assume you've cleaned and disinfected the wound and you're now ready to wrap over it.

  1. Place a gauze pad or strip directly on the wound.
  2. Grab your roll gauze to secure the gauze pad in place. Wrap around the wound and gauze, but not too tight. Just snug enough to hold the gauze in place. Also, make sure to wrap above and below the nearest joint (or two), which will help keep the bandage from slipping off due to normal pet activities.
  3. Grab your cohesive wrap and apply that next. It will stick to the layer of gauze but not to your pet. Don't pull snugly AT ALL. No resistance; just lay it over and wrap around.
  4. Grab your adhesive tape and apply one strip to the top of the bandaged limb and one at the bottom to hold the ends in place.

Warning: Monitor your pet's toes. If the bandage is too tight, you may notice that your pet's toes are splayed out or signs of swelling. If you do, take off the bandage and try again, looser this time.

Remove the bandage and check the wound daily. Minor wounds will only need to be covered for a day or two. One thing you're looking for, other than signs of healing, are signs of infection.

Signs of Secondary Infection

Whether you cared for your pet's wound or your veterinarian did, you'll still want to monitor your pet for signs of infection. Those signs include:

  • Redness around the wound
  • Swelling around the wound
  • Signs your pet is in pain
  • Discharge of pus around the wound
  • Foul odors

If you notice any of these signs of infection, that's right. Take your pet to the vet ASAP. And as always, remember to monitor your pet's vital signs and any behavioral changes.