Wound healing is sometimes a long process, so it’s important to give wounds a good complementary care at home. According to the kind of wound we are talking about, the whole process may take just 8 days (surgical wounds), or maybe 4 weeks.
Surgical wounds are very easy to care: keeping them clean and stopping the animal from licking and scratching is normally enough. Elizabethan collars and tube shaped bandages are often used for this purpose. When dirt or hair get stuck to cutaneous stitches, a scab which retards the healing may eventually appear.
Skin heals from the edge of the wound towards the centre. When the skin next to the edge is wet, dirty or inflamed, cannot “grow” properly, so the wound never gets closed completely. This is valid for every kind of wounds, either surgical or non surgical ones.
Skin lesions produced by traumatisms, bites or high temperatures must be checked by a Vet urgently, if they are deep or affecting a huge area.
If it’s impossible for us to take the animal to the Vet practice urgently, there are some things we can do meanwhile:
-Take some pictures of the wound before doing anything. This is normally useful for the Vet.
-Clean and cover the wound. “Homemade cleaning” must be done just with water for avoiding complications. Using antiseptics or antibiotics in a wrong way may make things go worse. Wounds must be cleaned from the edge. In most cases you don’t even need to touch it; just squirting water on it is enough. Then you can dry the wound with some paper or tissue (not cotton wool, because it may leave some fibre in the wound), and finally cover it with some gauze or a clean tissue, which should be a bit wet, for stopping it to get literally glued to the wound, which would damage skin and tissues when removed.
So, keeping the wound clean and covered will help later the Vet to treat it.
After the professional check, all we have to do is to follow the Vet instructions about changing regularly the tissues and bandages, applying ointments, etc. In case of specially serious wounds or non-cooperating patients, the daily treatments must be performed at the practice, even under sedation.
When the Vet decides not to cover a wound, maybe because it’s in a difficult location (chin, for example), or maybe because the patient doesn’t accept the bandage, it makes absolutely necessary to be very strict with the cleaning. If we have some other animals at home, we must stop them to lick the wound (trying to clean each other wounds is a very common instinct in dogs). Flies may lay eggs in an uncovered and dirty wound in a matter of minutes, because they detect the smell of pus and other secretions very quickly, so, for all these reasons, wounds must be kept always clean.
Liliana Aldeguer Cerdán col 793
English translation by Sergio Reina Esteban col 747