First Aid For Dogs: How To Care Of A Wounded Dog

Taking care of your wounded dog may not be an everyday thing, but when you come across something serious it might be very confusing.

You can probably take care of your dog’s bruises if he has them, but when he gets seriously injured you get anxious and start panicking. You can tell if your dog is hurt, but can you take care of the injury?

Whether you’ve had dogs all your life or you’re just a first-time dog owner everyone gets stressed out when they see their bellowed dog limping, crying in pain, or bleeding.

So to ease your anxiety here’s a piece of information on how to care for your dog when he’s wounded.

Veterinary places sterile bandage on wounded dog

With what to start when your dog is wounded?

First of all, examine the wounded dog so you can take care of him properly.

Often these injuries are painful, so be careful. Try to avoid touching the area more than necessary and try to avoid causing big pain to your dog, because even the calmest dog can bite you from the pain they can’t handle.

As I mentioned in my previous blog First Aid For Dogs, that practicing these things (touching your dog in uncomfortable places, test searching for wound) while the dog is fine and healthy, can help you in the situation when you need to handle your dog when something actually happens.

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Wound Types

There can be open or closed wounds.

If the wound is closed, the skin is not torn. If the wound is open, the skin is torn.

When something is fractured, both types of wounds are possible.

If the wound is opened infections can enter the dog’s body.

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Closed Wounds

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Closed wounds can be misleading.

As the skin is not torn, it can appear that the injury is not too serious. But do not underestimate closed wounds, they may look insignificant, but in reality, there may be a dangerous internal injury under the skin, the consequences which may appear after several days.

Even if the closed wound seems minor, call your veterinarian for advice.

Don’t let your wounded dog walk around without a proper care.

Signs of closed wounds:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Discolouration of the skin at area of the injury
  • Warmer injured area
  • External damage such as abraded skin. 

First Aid for Closed Wounds

  1. Apply a cold compress to the wound as soon as possible (A bag with, for example, frozen peas are ideal, as they melt faster than ice and fits better to the injured area)
  2. If there are skin abrasions, clean them with salty water (1 teaspoon of salt per 0.3 l of water) or with 3% hydrogen peroxide. After cleaning the abrasions you can treat them with an antiseptic liquid or spray that does not cause irritation
  3. Look for other closed wounds, especially if your dog has been in a car crash.

Ask your veterinarian for advice.

Happy Senior Woman with Her Dog and Veterinarian Behind Isolated on a White Background.

Open Wounds

When the skin is torn, the tissues are exposed to dirt and bacteria.

There is a high risk that the wound will be infected.

First of all, stop the bleeding, then prevent your dog from further injuries which can form from biting the area, scratching, running, and so on. Try to reduce the pain, if possible.

Seek the help of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Remember that although open wounds may seem more serious, closed wounds are often more dangerous to a dog’s life.

Signs of open wounds:

  • The skin is torn
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • The dog licks or pays close attention to the injured area

First aid for open wounds:

Heavy bleeding wounds

  1. Stop the bleeding by applying an absorbent material to the wound. If a first aid kit is available, use a non-woven swab. You can also use any clean, absorbent material, such as a kitchen towel or napkin.

The blood-soaked swab should not be removed from the wound as it may tear off the coagulated blood layer and the bleeding may resume.

Do not use disinfectants or antiseptics.

Press the swab on the bleeding wound and hold for two minutes. This will allow a layer of clotted blood to form

2. If necessary, apply an additional swab to the injured area and, if possible, lift the injured area so that it is above the dog’s heart.

Do not lift the leg if there is a possibility of a fracture.

3. Look for signs of shock.

Wounds that do not bleed heavily

  1. Small wounds can be treated with 3% hydrogen peroxide, salty water, antiseptics, or plain water.
care for a wounded dog

2. Clean the wound from dirt, small stones, or splinters with tweezers or clean fingers if necessary. Wash the skin and hair around the wound with water.

Do not pull large objects out of the wound, such as arrows or wood chips, as this may cause unstoppable bleeding.

See your nearest veterinarian immediately.

(use running water for cleaning wounds. You can also use devices like plant sprayers by adjusting the nozzle so that the water does not spray around but flows with a small sprout)

3. If the wound is full of dog hair cut them while they’re still wet, or apply a little Vaseline to the scissors – then the hair will stick to the scissor blades and it will be easier to cut them off.

4. Once the wound is cleaned and disinfected from the outside, it should be dried with a clean cloth.

Open wounds should not be rubbed, as this can only make the injury more serious.

Remember that even small open wounds can hide serious injuries and can be deep and dangerous. Do not forget that there is a risk of infection.

See a veterinarian immediately after providing the first aid for your dog.

happy grinning dog in the arms of smiling veterinarian woman in a white coat and badge on an autumn lawn

What is a bandage and how to care for a wounded dog?

Bandages keep the wounds dry and prevent them from further damage, which is often done by the dog himself by licking and chewing the wound.

Bandages also protect the wound from infection and absorb moisture that is released from the injured area.

A light pressure of the bandage reduces pain and bleeding, as well as the formation of fluid “pockets” under the skin.

The bandage consists of three layers: an absorbent swab, gauze, and a band-aid.

Absorbent Swab

It is best to use a specially designed, sterile swab that does not stick to the wound, but in urgent cases, you can use any clean, absorbent material instead of a swab.

Towels and cotton kitchen towels are very useful, paper towels are not so recommended as they are difficult to remove from the wound afterward. If only paper towels are available, moisten them before removing them.

Use antiseptic creams, lotions, or sprays only on small wounds.

Gauze Bandage

The swab is attached to the wound by tying it with a gauze bandage.

The bandage should not be wrapped too tightly as this may interfere with blood circulation. It is best to use elastic gauze bandages.


The band-aid ensures that the gauze and swab stick directly to the affected area.

It should be placed tightly enough so that the dog cannot tear it off, but not as tight so the blood circulation stops.

It’s best to use flexible band-aids.

They are more recommended because the area of the injury is often swollen and the swollen area might get bigger or smaller after a while.

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How to put on a bandage

  1. After the wound is cleaned, disinfected and dried you can apply a swab to the injured area.

Applying an absorbent swab.

The wound is cleaned and the swab is covering the entire injured area

2. Place the gauze on one side of the swab and start wrapping it around the swab so that it does not move from the place

Wrapping the gauze bandage around the swab.

The first wrap of the gauze goes around the swab to ensure that it does not move. Every next winding has to cover one-third of the previous one.

Continue to wrap the gauze until the entire swab and bandage have covered both ends

3. With one hand, hold the end of the bandage to prevent it from unwinding and apply the first coat of the band-aid. Stick the band-aid so that it covers the gauze at both ends and sticks to the dog hair.

This will prevent the bandage from slipping off.

Securing the bandage with a patch.

At first, insert two fingers under the gauze and stick the band-aid around the gauze, then pull the fingers out and continue to fit it without tightening the band-aid.

This will help you to prevent applying the band-aid too tightly.

4. The bandage must be clean and dry.

When the dog goes out, wrap the bandage with a plastic bag. Do not let the bandage get wet.

5. The bandage should be changed daily unless the veterinarian says differently.

If you keep the bandage on for a long time the risk of infection increases, but if the blood circulation is impaired it can lead to dead tissues.

6. Bandaged wounds are very sensitive to infection. If the wound is swollen or pus begins to appear, take the dog to the veterinarian.

If there is a bad smell coming from the wound, the help of a veterinarian should be sought immediately.

7. Make sure your dog is calm and reduce all the activities you can until the wound is healed and the bandage can be removed.

Do not allow the dog to run around by himself while the wound is still bandaged.

8. If your dog is chewing the bandage, your veterinarian can give you a plastic collar, which must be worn until the bandage can be removed.

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To conclude

Practice examining your dog while you’re still at home with calm energy and a lot of treats.

This will help you in the future when you have to take care of your wounded dog when he’s hurt. This also helps with veterinarian appointments and grooming.

So be prepared in advance.

When examining your dog you can tell if the dog needs more serious help or not, but remember that closed wounds may be more dangerous than open wounds, and checking up with your veterinarian is more than recommended.

When acting quickly in these kinds of situations you can prevent more serious injuries from happening, but if you’re not sure what to do and if you’re scared to do it, seek a professional’s help ASAP.

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