Treating Dog Wounds (Rubbing Alcohol, Antibiotic Ointment & Other Common Questions)

Have you discovered an open wound on your dog and don’t know what to do next? Don’t panic – we have you covered with everything you need to know about taking care of your pet’s injury.

Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol (AKA Isopropyl Alcohol) on a Dog?

No, you should never apply to rub alcohol to your pet’s skin or fur at all. Rubbing alcohol is poisonous to pets, and ingestion of it from licking can potentially be fatal. Warm tap water is your go to for cleaning dog wounds.

The same is true for hydrogen peroxide. Never use these substances unless your vet specifically instructs you to do so. They can make your dog sick or at the least delay healing.

What Can You Put on Dog Wounds?

At the most basic, you can use water to flush a wound clean a few times a day. After cleaning it and making sure your pet hasn’t gotten anything in the wound, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to promote healing and provide a barrier.

Can I Give My Dog Human Medications?

Unless your veterinarian specifically tells you that you can use human medications, it’s best to avoid using them on your pet for their overall health. Pills made for humans are dosed for your size, and they can sometimes be toxic for pets are not the only amount but in their basic ingredients.

How to Treat Open Wounds on a Dog

1. Using plenty of clean water, clear away any debris in your pet’s wound. You can also make a homemade saline solution (saltwater) by mixing one teaspoon (5 mL) of salt with two cups of slightly warm water. This saline solution is also effective at cleaning wounds.

2. Use water or saline solution to clean the would 2-3 times daily

3. If your dog is constantly licking the would use a protective sock or a cone collar to stop them. DO NOT use antibiotics, rubbing alcohol/hydrogen peroxide or other antiseptics, or bandages.

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4. Monitor the wound. If it doesn’t heal within 2-3 days or gets worse take them to a vet immediately.

Deep open wounds may require stitches. Consult your vet for what to do on these types of wounds.

Symptoms of Open Wounds in Dogs

It’s important to regularly perform physical checks of your pet. This can be as simple as checking them over while you’re playing with them or petting them.

Run your hands through their fur all over their body, looking for anything different or signs that your dog is in any kind of distress. The most obvious symptom would be blood, but there is more to keep your eye out for.

  • Fur matted around a wound
  • Fur loss
  • The surface of skin is scraped up or scratched
  • Bruising on areas where the skin is visible
  • Redness and/or swelling anywhere
  • Fluid drainage
  • And, of course, bleeding

How to Clean and Disinfect a Dog Wound

Use slightly warm tap water or saline solution to clean your pet’s wounds.

If you happen to have true iodine solution or chlorhexidine (a particular type of surgical soap) around, you can use those, as well. Simply flush your pet’s wound with it as you would water.

Saline Solution Recipe

You can make saline solution at home by completely dissolving one level teaspoon of table salt into two cups of water.

Items NOT to Use to Disinfect a Dog Wound

However, keep in mind that you cannot use just anything on pets that might be used on the humans in your house, as many can be toxic to your pet or keep them from healing. Cleansers that should not be used include:

  • soap
  • shampoo
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • essential oils of any kind
  • herbal washes
  • tea tree oil

Helping Your Pet’s Pain

The best thing you can do for your dog is keep them comfortable, have their food and water ready, and avoid stress for them as much as possible.

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Is It OK to Use Medicine on My Dog?

Don’t give your pet pain medications, including over the counter medicines, that are meant for humans without strict instructions from your veterinarian.

If your pet seems to be in particular pain, discuss it with your vet. The vet will be able to prescribe the right medicine to help your pet’s discomfort without endangering them.

Stop Your Pet from Licking Their Injury

There’s an old urban legend that a dog’s saliva is antiseptic. This still common assumption is far from the truth, and it’s important to keep your dog from licking their injuries – or yours, for that matter!

Licking a wound is an instinct for your dog, but it can prevent them from healing and even cause the injury to become infected. If you can’t get your pet to stop licking, consider covering the area with a breathable wrap bandage, dog coat, stockinette, or even a baby onesie, with an Elizabethan collar being the last resort for stubborn pets.

Keep Punctures from Closing Too Early

When it comes to puncture wounds, closing too quickly can trap dangerous bacteria inside and cause further problems. When you’re cleaning your dog’s wound, very gently massage around the area two to three times a day to keep the injury open and allow it to drain any fluid out.

Take notice of any bleeding or other fluids – pay attention to whether it appears or smells infected. If so, it’s important to talk to your vet about steps such as prescription antibiotics to help your pet fight the infection.

How Dogs Get Open Injuries

There are probably as many causes for injuries as there are dogs to acquire them. It might happen as a result your dog chewing at their own skin or being bitten by another animal, jumping over or digging under things around your house or neighborhood, or simply being rambunctious.

If you can find the source of your pet’s injury, do something to fix it so that they can avoid it, if you’re able. While this obviously isn’t possible for every danger, it’s a good idea to minimize your pet’s risk for open wounds and other injuries.

Recovery Time

Recovery depends wholly on the type of injury your dog has. Minor cuts and scrapes typically take only a few days to a week to heal, while more serious injuries can take anywhere from weeks to months and should be overseen by a vet.

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It’s important for your pet’s health to keep a close eye on how their healing goes. If you don’t see progress, if the injury seems to become worse, or if there is an odor of any kind coming from the wound, take your pet to their veterinarian ASAP.