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In the care of wounds, the two most important objectives are first to stop the bleeding, and then to prevent infection. Since wounds are painful to the dog, be prepared to restrain or muzzle before you treat the wound.

Control of Bleeding

Bleeding may he arterial (the spurting of bright red blood), or venous (oozing of dark red blood), or sometimes both. Do not wipe a wound that has stopped bleeding. This will dislodge the clot. Don't pour hydrogen peroxide on a fresh wound. Bleeding then will he difficult to control.

The two methods used to control bleeding are the pressure dressing and the tourniquet:

The Pressure Dressing: Take several pieces of clean or sterile gauze, place them over the wound and bandage snugly. Watch for swelling of the limb below the pressure pack. This indicates impaired circulation. The bandage must be loosened or removed.
Treating the Wound

All wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. Proper care and handling will prevent some infections. Before handling a wound, make sure your hands and instruments are clean. Starting at the edges of a fresh wound, clip the hair back to enlarge the area. Cleanse the edges of the wound with a damp gauze or pad. Irrigate the wound with clean tap water. Apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage as described below.

Older wounds with a covering of pus and scab are cleansed with an atibacterial or a surgical soap. Blot dry. Apply antibiotic ointment and bandage as described below.

Dressings over infected wounds should be changed frequently to aid in the drainage of pus, and to allow you to apply fresh ointment.

Fresh lacerations over one-half inch long should be sutured to prevent infection, minimize scarring and speed healing. Wounds over twelve hours old are quite likely to be infected. Suturing is questionable.

Bites are heavily contaminated wounds. Often they are puncture wounds. They are quite likely to get infected. They should not be sutured. Antibiotics are indicated.

With all animal bites, the possibility of rabies should be kept in mind (see Infectious Diseases: Rabies).


The equipment you will need is listed in the Home Emergency and Medical Kit, in the photo at the beginning of this chapter.

Foot and Leg Bandages. To bandage the foot, place several sterile gauze pads over the wound. Insert cotton balls between the toes and hold in place with adhesive tape looped around the bottom of the foot and back across the top until the foot is snugly wrapped.

- A method of applying a foot bandage for a lacerated pad. Tape loosely to allow good circulation. (J. Clawson)

- A sock slipped over a gauze square is a good bandage for ease of dressing change.

For leg wounds, begin by wrapping the foot as described. Then cover the wound with several sterile gauze pads and hold in place with strips of adhesive tape. Wrap the tape around the leg but don't overlap it so that the tape sticks to the hair. This keeps the dressing from sliding up and down, as often happens when a roll gauze bandage is used. Flex the knee and foot several times to be sure the bandage is not too tight and there is good circulation and movement at the joints.

When a dressing is to be left in place for some time, cheek on it every few hours to be sure the foot is not swelling. If there is any question about the sensation or circulation to the foot, loosen the dressing.

Many-Tailed Bandage. This bandage is used to protect the skin of the neck or abdomen from scratching and biting and to hold dressings in place. It is made by taking a rectangular piece of linen and cutting the sides to make tails. Tie the tails together over the back to hold it in place.

A many-tailed bandage may be used to keep puppies from nursing infected breasts.

Eye Bandage. At times your veterinarian may prescribe an eye bandage in the treatment of an eye ailment. Place a sterile gauze square over the affected eye and hold it in place by taping around the head with one inch adhesive. Be careful not to get the tape too tight. Apply the dressing so that the ears are free.

You may be required to change the dressing from time to time to apply medication to the eye.

The ear bandage is discussed in the chapter EARS.

Elizabethan Collar - An Elizabethan Collar, named for the high neck ruff popular in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is a useful device to keep a dog from scratching at the ears and biting at a wound or skin problem. They are recommended for certain disorders discussed in the SKIN chapter. They can be purchased from some veterinarians or pet stores, or can be made from plastic and cardboard. Plastic Flowerpots, wastebaskets and buckets work well.

- Many tailed bandage. (J. Clawson)

- Eye bandage, properly applied. (J. Clawson)

- Elizabethan Collar. (J. Clawson)
The size of the collar if tailored to the dog Cut just enough out of the bottom to let the dog's head slip through, then fasten the device to a leather collar by strings passed through holes punched in the sides of the plastic. The neck of the collar should be short enough to let the dog eat and drink. Most dogs adjust to them quite well after a few minutes. Others won't eat or drink with the collar in place. In that case, temporarily remove the collar.