IT CAN BE TOUGH BEING A PET.
As well as the continual failure of your human to uncomplaining obey your every whim without question, the daily routine of an average cat or dog brings with it several occupational hazards, and one of the most common of these is risk of coming back home with a hole in the skin where there isn’t supposed to be one.
Even if a wound is small and looks like it will heal by itself, it’s worth contacting your vet.
The things that cause wounds in our pets (broken glass, rusted metal, not to mention other dogs, cats and wildlife) are usually covered in bacteria, and although dogs and cats are far more resistant to tetanus than we are (which is why we don’t need to vaccinate them against it), other infections are still common.
It’s not unusual (especially in cats) to only find the wound several hours or even days after it has occurred, and these wounds can sometimes be surprisingly large (fur is very good at covering up wounds). They can often be in hard to spot places too, like the armpit or groin.
If the wound is old (usually, any bleeding will have stopped, and the edges of the wound will have swollen up) and your pet seems otherwise well, there’s no hurry – make an appointment at your vets as soon as you can. Remember to avoid feeding them before your visit in case your vet admits your pet to deal with the wound then and there.
If the wound is fresh, then there are two things you can do to help speed up the healing and to prevent things getting worse.
- clean the wound
- stop any bleeding.
Bear in mind that your pet may be nervous, distressed and painful, so don’t attempt to do anything if they show any signs of biting or scratching you – your vet will be much better equipped to deal with this.
Cleaning the wound
First of all, clean the wound with warm (not hot) running water.
Don’t try to scrape any debris out with a cloth or towel, simply flush the wound out with water from a tap or poured from a jug.
If your pet is showing signs of distress or pain as you do this, stop – your vet will be able to clean the wound out effectively under sedation if necessary. If the wound is bleeding a lot (it always seems like a lot at the time, but as a general rule of thumb, if you can count the drips then the wound probably isn’t bleeding excessively) then skip this step.
Stop the Bleeding
Secondly, stop any bleeding by applying pressure to the wound.
A clean and damp towel or blanket is ideal for this, but anything which will allow you to press onto the wound is fine. You don’t have to press too hard, just enough so that the blood stops coming through.
DO NOT apply a tourniquet unless the bleeding is extremely severe (and if in doubt, don’t do it at all) – cutting off the blood supply to the wound will also cut of the blood supply to the entire limb or affected area; this should only be done under medical supervision as it can lead to severe tissue injury and potential loss of limbs.
We owe it to our pets to be prepared and understand how to look after them, and when to go to the vets. Understanding first aid for pets is important.
Wounds can look enormous and it can be hard to imagine how they will ever be closed – but don’t panic! They are often not as severe as they first appear, and even if they are there are many surgical techniques for closing even very large wounds.
Guest Post by Nick Marsh