Paging Dr. Dolittle Part IV
In the previous three articles, you’ve learned what to pack for a Pet First Aid Kit, how to recognize & treat shock, how to do CPR on your furry beast, and more. In this final article, you’ll learn how to care for wounds and fractures. So, let’s go fetch some knowledge, shall we?
Treating external wounds on your pet
Dogs, especially younger roly-poly critters, can get into all kinds of things; especially things that weren’t meant for his teeny-tiny mouths stocked with razor sharp baby teeth – OUCH! External wounds can be anything from a scrape to a puncture wound from an animal bite or a laceration. Know that minor wounds can develop into life threatening concerns, so do treat any serious cuts or small injuries that break their skin. And as in humans, proper, prompt cleaning help prevent infection. Get some clean dressing and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Note that wounds in their highly vascular ear and nose tend to bleed a lot, while if the wound’s in their legs or trunk, you may not see as much blood. Next, flush the wound with water or saline to dislodge debris and small particulates. If the wound requires pressure to stop the bleeding, be careful not to dislodge any clots that may have already formed. Grab a new clean compress and apply pressure.
If the wound’s superficial, start the cleaning process by applying a small amount of water-based lubricant into the wound and clip the fur around the wound. The lubricant keep’s the clipped fur out of the wound allowing you to clean it off with a washcloth after clipping. Clipping the fur makes it easy to clean the wound and prevents bacteria on the fur from contaminating the wound. Once the fur is clipped, clean the wound thoroughly with a chlorhexidene or betadine solution.
You’ll need to continue tending their wound gently with hydrogen peroxide moistened gauze, three or four times a day. Follow that up with the application of a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin. It’s important to monitor their wound for the three signs of infection: excessive redness, swelling, or purulent discharge. If you notice any signs of infection, then you’ll need to consider giving them a dose of amoxicillin. Factor a dose of 5-10mg of Amoxicillin per pound every 12-24 hours. Amoxicillin is available in 250mg and 500mg capsules, so calculate accordingly. Amoxicillin is penicillin based, so be sure your pet is not allergic BEFORE administering any antibiotic. And, know that Amoxicillin is a medium-spectrum antibiotic used to treat wounds, skin infections, tooth abscesses, lower respirator tract infections, and other strains of bacterial infections. In your Pet First Aid Kit, it’s a good idea to consider a suitable antibiotic stash for your pet, so do your homework before you need it.
While you’re treating their wound, it’s important to restrict their exercise, as skin is very motile; meaning if they are too active, they may keep reopening the wound, which delays healing and increases the risk of an abscess.
Chemical Burn Care
Put on some gloves to protect your hands and slip on a muzzle for your pup (they won’t mean to bite you, but just may), remove their collar, harness, and any other item that may have been contaminated. Be careful not to move the chemical elsewhere, but try to flush the area with cold water for at least 20 minutes. Baking soda, Dawn dish liquid, or another mild one, or a baby shampoo can be used.
If possible, use a hose if the burn is in the mouth, or at least a cup to clear the area of the chemical.
Temperature Burns on Your Pet
Know there are a few types of burns that could happen to your pup, so read below:
If their skin is still intact, that’s a first-degree burn, usually caused by contact with hot liquid or hot object. For treatment, quickly muzzle them and then flush with ice water to stop the heat; use cold compresses to slow the inflammation for 20 minutes at a time. The quicker you can treat the area, the less the chance of damage.
If the skin is partially or burned all the way through, it’s considered a second- or third-degree burn. For treatment, be on the watch for signs of shock (you learned to recognize and prevent shock in part II). This is the first priority. Use a closely woven material or textile to apply a clean dressing to the area, as you don’t want threads or fibers to get stuck in the affected area. Use T-shirts or old sheets to dress the area further and wrap it.
Determing a Fracture
Usually equated with an injury, your dog can have a break or fracture when you least expect it. It’ll be painful for your dog and they'll be frightened and anxieties will be high. Remember to remain calm for them, and try not to be too upset or anxious for their sake.
A splint immobilizes the area and helps to avoid further trauma, or worsening the break. You’ll also want to contain swelling and damage to muscles, blood vessels, and the nerves. For some people, they just use tape; but here’s how to wrap your dog’s toe/metatarsal area.
Wrapping your dog’s toe/foot in sports tape:
For a small area like a toe, you can use a temporary wrap that acts as a splint but it’s made with flexible sports tape.
► Muzzle your pup so they don’t bite, lick, or interfere by pulling the wrap. You can also use a stocking.
► Enlist help and ask for another person to hold them, if not secure them.
► Unwind the “hurt free” stretchy wrap. Start over the middle of the area you wish to wrap. Then wrap on either side with support that acts as a splint-like encasing.
► While ‘they’ always say the tape will stick to itself and you don’t need anything over it, your pup will most likely figure a way to lick the edges and get it off. So, take the extra step and wrap it in sports tape, paper tape, or an Ace bandage to protect it.
► (Optional) If your pup won’t leave it alone, you may need to make them a homemade “cone of shame”, as they may cause more damage or cause the bone to misalign and heal incorrectly. You can also put things that smell bad on it so they’ll back off; things like, perfume, pepper, Vick’s Vaporub, or anything distasteful to stop them from chewing.
Once you get their fracture wrapped, your challenge will be in keeping them calm and restricting their activity until the bone has healed. That can take anywhere from four weeks in puppies or younger dogs and up to eight weeks in older pooches. Maybe find some good books to read to them while they heal.
Hopefully, in these four articles you learned some basic skills to help your pet in the event that emergency medical care is not available. As with most things in life, being prepared for pet emergency situations can be the difference between their continued presence by your side or your wishing them well as they cross the Rainbow Bridge. Lastly, the articles are not meant to be the end all, be all for emergency pet care, but should get you started to acquire some basic skills and motivate you to learn more. Your pets will appreciate it.