Pet Wellness - Laceration First Aid and Care

Pet wellness, particularly with dogs and cats requires that owners know how to deal with certain injuries regardless of how large or small. Of course emergencies require the professionalism of a vet or a phone call to one. However, smaller injuries can be treated at home successfully, ensuring the quick well being and comfort of your pet when injured with a laceration.

Lacerations are quite common in dogs and cats and are usually due to bite wounds, or cuts that happen in the yard from a sharp nail, or a worn out fence. Pet wellness advise today will help you deal with lacerations calmly and confidently, so as to ensure your pets well being. You will learn what medicines to give, what is safe and what is dangerous.

You will want to consider ensuring this information is printed and easily accessible for when you need it. Placing it in your first aid kit will it make user friendly in the case of a laceration emergency.

What is a laceration?

A laceration is simply a tearing of tissue. The edges of the tear can be smooth, jagged or irregular. When a laceration occurs there can be damage to underlying tissues and structures. Muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels can be damaged as well. Needless to say, the deeper the cut the deeper the damage goes.

Deep lacerations can cause brutal damage to underlying structures and this can often times be life threatening, where as minor trauma may only turn out skin damage. Contamination from debris, bacterial and dirt are often the cause for more serious damage and infection.

Common Causes of Lacerations
  • Cuts from glass or sharp objects
  • Rough wires and fencing
  • Being hit by a car
  • Jumping through a glass window (yes it does happen! Often when the animal is chasing something and doesn't realize that a door or window is not open but instead glassed off)
  • Bite wounds
Pet Wellness Home Treatment

The degree and depth of the laceration will dictate the treatment required. Obviously if your pet has symptoms of bleeding heavily, not able to move or walk, is crying in pain, or the wound looks too deep then it is safe to assume the injury is serious and pet should be taken to the vet. However, If you are not sure how serious the situation is and your pet does not have any of the above mentioned symptoms then you can phone your vet and describe the situation in order to see if the animal needs the attention of a vet or if you can treat his wound at home.

At Home Treatment for Minor Laceration
  • Asses the pets wound(s). Take care not to bitten when assessing the wound. If pet is in pain he may nip or bite. If so contact your vet. Do the emergency signs suggested above apply? If so, contact your vet immediately.
  • If wound is bleeding use a clean cloth and gently apply pressure to the wound. Again, heed caution, as this may be painful to your pet.
  • If the wound is shallow, place your pet in a comfortable position and ensure you have good lighting. Ask someone to hold a flashlight for you if necessary. Clip carefully and slowly around the wound. Avoid getting hair in the wound. To do this use KY jelly in the wound to protect it while clipping. The hair will stick to the jelly instead of the wound.
  • Evaluate the size and extent of the wound. If deeper than the full thickness of the skin, or if it is bleeding profusely, or if the wound is longer that 1 inch then it is necessary to contact your vet as the wound will likely require suturing.

1. Flush wound heavily but gently with lukewarm water. A good way to do this if you can is to use a syringe. Draw up the lukewarm water into the syringe and squirt it into the wound. This will remove any debris from the wound. DO NOT ALLOW THE NEEDLE OR THE SYRINGE TO TOUCH YOUR PETS WOUND. You are using water pressure to remove debris from the wound. A turkey baster can also be used in place of a syringe. Make sure the water pressure is gentle enough that it will not hurt or break the wound more.

2. While you are cleaning – you can better evaluate the wound. If the laceration appears superficial – you may be done with cleaning it. Dry the area around the wound.

If the wound is deep or draining – the best thing to do is see your veterinarian. Some deeper or draining wounds can benefit from a bandage. BE CAREFUL WITH BANDAGES. Most bandages that veterinarians see that are applied by owners are done incorrectly and add damage to the wound.
  • Never make the bandage too tight
  • Apply a 4x4 bandage then wrap it with gauze. Make sure the size of bandage is appropriate for the wound and the wound is properly covered avoiding any sticky portion of the bandage on the wound. Look for bandage material called TELFA. TELFA is made with a substance that prevents the bandage from sticking to the wound. Very important!
  • The TELFA bandage should be directly on the wound, then gauze wrap, followed by an outer wrap of Vetwrap. Use a small strip of tape to help secure the outer bandage.
  • Ensure the wrapping is not too tight by checking the toes of the pet every few hours for swelling. If you notice swelling, loosen the bandage.
3. Monitor the pet. If the injury is minor the pet's activity should be normal with eating and drinking on a normal level. The pet should not be experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and having normal urine and bowel movements.

See the vet if:
  • The pet is vomiting
  • Has diarrhea
  • Acting lethargic
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Has difficulty breathing
4. Do not allow the pet to disturb or bother the wound. Try and cover the wound or use an e-collar. An e-collar is a cone shaped collar that goes around the neck to prevent the pet from licking or chewing the wound or bandage. e-collars

At the start of this article I mentioned good pet wellness practices require pet owners to have a first aid box for pet injuries. Along with that, and in order to act as fast as possible, ensure the required bandages and collar are at your reach by housing them in your home for situations such as this. You don't want to be running around looking for the right bandages and collars at the time your pet needs you most. So have it all ready in the event of a laceration injury.

Pet wellness means ensuring proper safety for your pet. Keep a close eye on your yard and garage area and other place around your home your pet visits. Make sure it is free of anything that can cause a laceration or any other type of injury to your pet.

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