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Essential Dog Wound Care: Expert Tips for Treating Minor Injuries at Home

Harmful disinfectants can make at-home medical care tricky to navigate.

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This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. This article was originally published in 2016 and is regularly updated. It was last reviewed for accuracy and updated on June 19, 2024

If you have questions or concerns regarding dog wound care, call your vet, who is best equipped to ensure the health and well-being of your pet. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See additional information.

dog wound care at home
Before giving your pet medication, call your vet to check that it’s safe — and that you’re giving the correct dose these are important to make sure you provide proper dog wound care. Photo: John Voo

Should You Head Straight for the Vet for Dog Wound Care?

If your dog has a minor wound, you might wonder whether it’s necessary to head straight for the veterinarian.

A survey conducted by the UK insurance company More Than showed that:

When it comes to dog wound care, safety should always be the priority. Here are some essential tips:

  • Consult Your Vet: Before giving your pet any medication, at least call the vet to ensure it’s safe and to check the correct dose.
  • Avoid Human Medications: Remember, human medications are made for humans. Even if the internet (“Dr. Google“) suggests something is safe, giving a relative overdose can be dangerous.

Understanding the best practices for dog wound care at home can help ensure your pet’s health and safety.

Using a saline solution is an effective way to provide proper dog wound care Photo: Wall Boat

Effective Dog Wound Care: How to Clean Minor Wounds

Cleaning a fresh wound can prevent infection, but there is an argument that peroxide, disinfectants, and even salt water all have the potential to damage tissue and delay healing. So, what should a caring person do when faced with a dog’s minor wound that needs cleaning?

Here are some practical suggestions for safe and effective dog wound care:

Saline Solution

Saline is the first line of defense. It is available in first aid packs, contact lens cleaning solutions, or can be prepared at home. Saline has mild antibacterial properties and, when made correctly, matches the makeup of body tissue, making it gentle on vital healing cells.

  • How to Use: Use a large volume and “lavage” the wound by squirting the salt water from a syringe onto the wound. This mild disinfectant flushes debris and contamination away.
  • How to Make: Pour out 1 cup of boiling water, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to dissolve, and leave it to cool. Make a fresh solution each time you need it.

Disinfectant Solutions

Having a pet disinfectant in your first aid kit is a great idea, but not all home disinfectants are safe for animal use. Disinfectants containing phenols (such as Lysol or Dettol) are toxic to dogs and should not be used.

  • Safe Options: Safe disinfectants include chlorhexidine and povidone-iodine. Ensure these are diluted to the strength indicated on the label.
  • Usage Tip: Concentrated disinfectants not only kill bacteria but also damage exposed living tissue. Get the dilution right to avoid slowing the healing process.

For more serious issues like an abscess, always consult your veterinarian.

Here’s what you can expect your veterinarian to do if you bring your pet in for more serious wounds:

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Hydrogen Peroxide

The use of hydrogen peroxide in dog wound care is controversial. The key is in the dilution: while hydrogen peroxide can effectively kill bacteria, it can also damage living tissue if not used correctly.

  • Proper Dilution: For every 1 part of 3% hydrogen peroxide, dilute it with 3 parts water. This makes it a useful disinfectant safe for minor wounds.
  • Usage Caution: The satisfying fizz of neat peroxide as it kills bacteria can also damage healthy tissue, so always dilute appropriately.

How to Bandage a Dog’s Wound

Proper bandaging techniques are crucial for effective dog wound care. Here are the steps to bandage a dog’s wound:

  1. Clean the Wound: Ensure the wound is clean and dry before applying a bandage. Use a saline solution or a pet-safe disinfectant.
  2. Apply a Non-Stick Pad: Place a non-stick pad directly over the wound to prevent the bandage from sticking to it.
  3. Wrap with Gauze: Wrap the wound with sterile gauze, ensuring it is snug but not too tight to cut off circulation.
  4. Secure the Bandage: Use self-adhesive bandage wrap to secure the gauze in place. Check the bandage regularly to ensure it remains clean and dry.

When to Remove a Bandage

Knowing when and how to remove a bandage is essential for proper dog wound care:

  • Check the Wound Daily: Monitor the wound daily for signs of infection and healing progress.
  • Change the Bandage: Change the bandage at least once a day or whenever it becomes dirty or wet.
  • Remove When Healed: Remove the bandage once the wound has formed a protective scab and is no longer oozing.

For a detailed guide, visit VCA Hospitals on Bandaging Dog Wounds.

The Role of Antibiotics in Dog Wound Care

Antibiotics play a vital role in preventing and treating infections in dog wounds:

  • Consult Your Vet: Always consult your vet before administering antibiotics to ensure they are necessary and appropriate for the wound.
  • Follow the Prescription: Administer antibiotics exactly as prescribed, completing the full course even if the wound appears healed.
  • Monitor for Side Effects: Be aware of potential side effects and report any concerns to your vet promptly.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Be mindful of your pet’s needed level of care. The following situations require prompt veterinary attention:

For minor wounds, cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection is the best approach. By balancing the risks, you do more good than harm in providing dog wound care at home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to care for a dog wound?

Clean the wound, apply a non-stick pad, wrap it with gauze, and monitor for signs of infection.

How to care for an open wound on a dog?

Gently clean the wound with a saline solution, keep it covered with a sterile bandage, and seek veterinary advice if necessary.


  1. “The Benefits of Saline Water.” Advanced Tissue. Nov. 24, 2015.
  2. Brown, Jackie. “Disinfection Protocols: A Clean Start.” Veterinary Practice News. Jan. 24, 2018.
  3. Drosou, Anna, MD, et al. “Antiseptics on Wounds: An Area of Controversy.” Medscape. 2003.