7 Signs of Dog Wound Infection that a Dog Owner Must Know

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Dog Wound Infection

Dog wound infections can be an issue of concern for the parent and naturally give rise to a plethora of questions such as, what to use on dog wounds? How to take care of open wounds on dogs? What is the process of dog wound infection treatment? If you have a fur baby then it is most likely that you have faced this situation multiple times as well. Dog wounds can lead to infections if you don’t take care of them immediately. The reasons can be many, the dog may hurt itself while playing or the wound could be a sign of something more serious, like an illness. If you are a dog owner, read on to know more.

7 Signs of an Infection on Open Wound

Being alert is important for a dog owner, if not the treatment will get delayed and may be harmful to the pet. If you think your dog has an abscessed wound, be prepared to look for these signs:Being alert is important for a dog owner, if not the treatment will get delayed and may be harmful to the pet. If you think your dog has an abscessed wound, be prepared to look for these signs:

1. Painful lump on the skin.

If you notice the infection in its first stages, then you are extremely lucky. You will see a lump on the skin is would most likely be filled with fluid. If your dog is particularly furry, chances are you will not notice the wound until it bursts. When the blister breaks and the wound is open, you need to do some basic first aid at home. Dogs can hide the signs of infection pretty well and so you need to be careful. Is there any drastic behavioral change? Does the fur appear matted or patched? Does your dog seem irritated? These are the things that will help you in identifying if your dog has any wounds.  

2. Limping

The most apparent sign of an injury is if your dog is limping and cannot walk properly. If your dog has a wound near or on one of their limbs, they will be uncomfortable running or oven walking. It is extremely painful but as we’ve mentioned the dogs are masters at hiding signs, they will try to stick to their walk routine. They will even try to play while limping. Check the area properly as there may be signs of possible infections. The first step of dog wound infection treatment is noticing the injury.

3. Redness or hair loss.

Is your dog’s fur starting to thin? Have you noticed the fur falls out entirely in patches? It might be an indication of a wound or bite location. Redness or losing hair is a sign of severe infection. In case you see any unusual swelling or a thin crust on the skin, it is due to an open wound. It is best to call the vet at once as the infection might go out of hand.

4. Foul odor and excessive grooming.

Dogs like most other animals try to self-medicate by licking their wounds. This instinct can often make things worse. If you see your dog trying to chew on a particular area too much or lick it often, you have to look closely. Sometimes it is difficult to take note of slight changes but you can surely smell a foul odor from the sore spot. This is a definite sign of an infection so it is best to get a vet check it.

5. Sore or discharge.

Open wound care for dogs becomes difficult as they try to groom it themselves by nibbling and licking. As a dog owner, you need to pay close attention to their regular habits so that you notice any abnormal behavior. You can tell they have sustained a bite or big cut by the way they behave. If you see any sore or discharge then there is a hidden infection and it needs proper treatment.

6. Lethargy and lack of appetite.

The best way to detect dog wound infection is to study their eating habits. Since dogs try to take care of themselves and hide the pain, they often lack appetite from being worn out. If you feel something is off about their regular habit, or they are doing something unusual, please pay extra attention. If your fur baby is no longer interested in treats or is not playing with a favorite toy, something is surely wrong. Loss of appetite and lethargy can be signs of fever that rise out of the body struggling with an infection. Take the dog to the vet without delay if you see these signs.

7. Pale or blue gums

blue pale gum on dog

This one is a serious sign and as a dog parent, you have to be careful about practicing good hygiene. Blue gum can be seen in dogs if there is an inadequate amount of oxygen being circulated through the blood supply. Medically known as cyanosis, it is a serious condition that could be a sign of pneumonia, pulmonary thromboembolism, congestive heart failure, and other respiratory issues. It happens due to a decrease in oxygenated blood and sometimes it may be due to a serious infection of a wound. Either way, take your dog to the vet.

When to Take Your Dog to the Vet?

If you are lucky enough to notice the early signs of an infection such as lumps or pus then you must take your dog to the vet. Only they can give antibiotics to cure the infection and heal the wound. Sometimes the abscesses may need surgical drainage to prevent them from spreading further. If you are worried about how to take care of dog wounds and need guidance then also seeing a vet is important. If the infection is not too serious then mild antibiotics and home care can cure it. Rest is important to help the immune system fight the infection. Dogs are usually playful so try to keep an eye on them. Go for follow-up visits to the vet to make sure there are no more signs.  

Supplies Needed for Dog Wound Care

As a dog parent, these items must be kept handy for dog wound treatment. Cleaning dog wounds can be tricky but these are basic first aid items.

  1. Electric clippers (disposable razors and/or scissors are okay if handled carefully) — they can help to get rid of dried skin or chipped nails and skin.
  2. A water-based lubricant, for example KY jelly (not Vaseline) — it will help to lubricate the area.
  3. Warm water — will help in cleaning the wound.
  4. Clean towels (cloth or paper) — wipe off excess water or fluids.
  5. Antiseptic solution (like 2% chlorhexidine) — for disinfection of the wound’s area.
  6. Antimicrobial ointment — in case of fungus, it will keep them in check.

How will I need to care for this open wound?

There may be some specific guidelines that your vet has given but these are some general things to keep in mind for open wound care for dogs. Gently clean the wound and its surrounding area to remove any sticky debris or thin crust. Take care to keep the edges of the wound absolutely clean because it will significantly reduce the potential for further infection. This will also help new and healthy tissue to develop in the affected area. Give your dog the prescribed medicine in a timely manner. If you discontinue antibiotics all of a sudden it may have side effects, do as your vet has instructed. Do not let your dog lick or chew the open wound. Get a protective collar to prevent further injury. In the case of abscesses that have been drained surgically, it is important to not let it cover up before time.

What should I clean the wound with?

Please be very careful about cleaning open dog wounds. Using warm tap water is the best and you can also try warm saline water for basic first aid. Don’t add more than a teaspoonful of salt in about 500 ml of water. If your vet has specifically asked to use a diluted cleansing solution made from chlorhexidine, along with a surgical soap, or an iodine solution to clean the sticky debris then do that.

Never use any kind of soap, shampoo, herbal preparations, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, or any other fancy item. These products can be extremely toxic if your dog accidentally licks it or it can delay the natural healing process of open wounds.

What should I do if my dog tries to lick the wound?

Note that your dog’s saliva is not an antiseptic. Dogs instinctively lick a wound but it is not beneficial. Get an Elizabethan collar to stop your dog from licking a wound or cover it with a bandage or a dog coat.

What about pain medications?

The vet will prescribe medicine to relieve pain and discomfort. Usually, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam, deracoxib, or carprofen are used but only with the expert advice of a vet. Do not buy these medicines without the vet checking the needs of your dog.

Dog wounds can appear to be simple on the surface but may have serious infection beneath. Visit the vet for a quick evaluation and proper medications. Clean the wound at home but expert advice is needed for your dog to heal and recover.

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