Pet Wounds Care: How to Apply a Basic Wound Dressing for Pets?

Pets, from cats and dogs to goldfish and parrots, are an integral part of many families, and their health and safety are of utmost importance to their owners. So, what happens when one of your precious friends gets injured? It is unfortunately imminent that this will happen, and you should be prepared for when it does. Here, we will look into how you can identify when your pet has been injured and how you can do a basic wound dressing for pets to provide first aid or treatment. We will be mainly focusing on cat and dog wound care and bandage.

basic wound dressing for pets: Gauze Wrap Rolls for Dog’s Paw
Gauze Wrap Rolls for Dog’s Paw

When Should I Dress My Pet’s Wound?

Animal wound care is a complicated but essential task. You can manage minor injuries at home. However, for more serious injuries you are going to want a professional, who is trained in wound management for animals, to treat your pet. If you are unsure about the severity of your pet’s injury, it is always wise to err on the side of caution and contact a veterinarian.

There are a few things about your pet’s behavior that you could observe to get a hint about the presence or severity of an injury. You should contact your vet if your pet is:

  • making concerning noises like yapping, yelping, moaning, growling, etc.
  • excessively licking their injury
  • showing a sudden change in appetite and eating habits
  • suddenly being aggressive or starting to isolate themselves
  • breathing irregularly
  • sleeping irregularly
  • limping or having difficulty moving
  • experiencing twitching, shivering, or convulsions

Why Should I Dress My Pet’s Wound?

Basic wound dressing for pets helps in protecting a wound and creates a healing environment. In the case of minor injuries, you may be able to treat the wound at home by doing basic wound dressing for pets properly. In the case of more serious injuries, dressing the wound can provide lifesaving first aid. The goals of dressings include:

  • protecting and cushioning the wound
  • debriding the wound
  • absorbing exudate
  • preventing contamination
  • reducing infection
  • applying topical agents to the wound like antimicrobials or healing agents
  • reducing the mobility of the injured area
  • limiting hemorrhage

Basic Wound Dressing for Pets

Wound dressings for pets usually contain three layers to ensure a quick recovery. Ideally, a basic wound dressing for pets should be cost-effective, environmentally friendly, comfortable, versatile, non-toxic, and free of allergens.

  • The primary layer is the layer that comes into direct contact with the wound. It wicks away tissue fluid and passes it upwards to the second layer.
    The primary layer may be adherent (sticky material like wide mesh) or nonadherent (nonstick material like fine mesh or foam).
  • The secondary layer absorbs the fluid passed upwards by the primary layer. It also cushions and supports the wound and immobilizes the limb.
    The secondary layer is typically composed of cotton rolls or cast padding.
  • The tertiary layer holds the first two layers in place. It also provides compression to the wound and protects it from environmental contaminants.
    The tertiary layer is composed of medical tape or elastic wraps.

In the event of an injury, it is beneficial to have a handy first aid kit for pets that includes pet-safe supplies, like tools, medicine, and basic wound dressing for pets materials, that you would need to provide first aid and treatment for your pet. You can learn how to prepare a first aid kit for pets here.

How to Dress Your Pet’s Wound

Pets range from sizes as small as ants to as large as Great Danes. So, the way to dress wounds would differ for various species. The steps below portray one basic method of open wound care. This method can be applied to most medium to large-sized pets, with a little tweaking according to the situation at hand. For example, this method may be used to apply cat and dog wound dressing and can be used as a tail and foot bandage.

Your pet could be in a state of shock from the injury so before you start dressing your pet’s wound, it is essential that you first calm them down. Talk to them in a soothing voice to calm their nerves and let them know that they are in a safe place. This will ensure that your pet does not lash out or get stressed. You may need to restrain them using a leash or muzzle.

Prepare your pet’s wound for dressing by first stopping bleeding using a non-adherent dressing like sterile gauze pads to absorb exudate and apply compression. Once the bleeding has stopped, the wound must be cleaned and disinfected of all contaminants. Any foreign objects present in the wound bed should be removed with the help of tweezers. After the wound has been cleaned, it is ready for bandaging. 

Follow the steps below to bandage your pet’s wound properly by applying basic wound dressing for pets:

  1. In the case of an active wound, apply a non-adherent sponge like a sterile gauze pad to absorb the blood. Pack on multiple layers of gauze till blood stops soaking through. Do not remove them to achieve a wet-to-dry bandage.
    If you have previously succeeded in stopping the wound from bleeding, simply cover the wound with a gauze pad for protection.
  2. Loosely wrap the wound with a cushioning layer of dressing in the form of cast padding or strips of cloth.
  3. Next, use a gauze roll bandage to further wrap the wound and to keep the previous layers of dressing in place.
  4. Secure the dressing with a layer of cohesive bandage or first aid tape.
  5. Check the compression of the dressing. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to pass a finger under the top of the dressing. If the dressing is too tight, it can hinder the circulation of blood in the area which can prove to be dangerous, causing swelling, numbness, and, in extreme cases, tissue necrosis. Therefore, it is important to redo the dressing to ensure the right amount of pressure.
  6. Put an E-collar on your pet to prevent them from licking or scratching at the dressing. 
Basic Wound Dressing for Pets with Cat Wearing E-collar
Cat Wearing E-collar

After the basic wound dressing for pets is done, you may give your pet a treat for good behavior. Get them a tetanus shot in case of deep cuts or puncture wounds, particularly caused by animal bites. In case of a severe injury, take your pet to a vet as soon as possible.

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