Pet injuries can range from superficial lacerations to deep wounds, and in severe cases, broken bones, ligaments or tendons. If your pet is injured, he/she could be in pain, scared and confused. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched while handling an injured pet. Never assume that even the kindest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
If necessary and if your pet is not vomiting, place a muzzle on your pet to reduce the chances of being bitten. Never place a muzzle on a pet that is vomiting. Don't attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from his/her mouth. Although your first impulse will be to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal more or cause him/her pain. Start by letting your pet get calmed and try to assess the severity of the lesion(s). Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your pet becomes nervous.
If your pet has a minor cut or laceration you can treat it at home but if he/she shows signs of severe pain or if you think that there are chances of a broken bone you should take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. If another animal bit your pet there is a high chance of wound infection, therefore, in those cases you should take him/her to doctor as soon as possible. Try to stabilize injuries before moving an injured animal by splinting or bandaging them. Call your veterinarian before you move your pet so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
How to treat wounds in pet
• Clip Away Fur. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly over the cut or scrape to prevent the clipped hair from sticking over the injured skin. Then using small scissors trim the hair that surrounds the wound. This will help you assess the severity of the lesion.
• Clean The Skin and Surrounding Area. Wipe off the petroleum jelly using a clean, sterile gauze pad. Then rinse the wound and surrounding skin with warm water. After that you should irrigate the wound with an antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine (Betasept), iodine (Betadine) or hydrogen peroxide using a disposable syringe. Don't rub or scrub at the injury, this can cause more damage and even introduce foreign bodies or bacteria. Rinsing is enough.
• Dry The Injured Area. Use a slightly damp sterile, gauze pad to dry the injured area carefully and gently. Using a dry gauze pad is not recommended because it may stick to the injured area and cause lacerations. Then you can apply a triple antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA). Basic tips for handling an injured pet. Retrieved on February 7, 2016 from: https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/Handling-an-Injured-Pet.aspx.
About the author
Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz practices mixed animal veterinary medicine and she has a special interest in shelter medicine and animal welfare. Stephanie enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, reading, writing and traveling.