How to Remove Surgical Staples on Dogs

Written by lisa lavergne
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Surgical staples are often used to close incisions on dogs after surgery or to close wounds the dog may have sustained from an injury. Unlike dissolvable sutures, surgical staples will need to be removed within a week or two after surgery to prevent the skin surrounding the staple from growing around the foreign object. Surgical staples on dogs are very easy to remove, though some care and caution must be practised to prevent complications.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Gauze
  • Antibacterial soap or surgical gloves
  • Cutting pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Assistant

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  1. 1

    Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before handling the tools you will use to remove the surgical staples. Alternately, you can also wear a pair of surgical gloves to prevent dirt and bacteria that may be present on your hands from getting near the incision site.

  2. 2

    Clean and sterilise the tools that you will be using to remove the staples using isopropyl alcohol.

  3. 3

    Wipe the incision area with a piece of gauze soaked in isopropyl alcohol to help remove dirt and debris from the area.

  4. 4

    Place the dog in your assistant's lap so that she can firmly hold the dog but also allow you easy access to the incision site.

  5. 5

    Place your cutting pliers in the centre of the surgical staple, and carefully snip the staple into two pieces.

  6. 6

    Using your needle nose pliers, grasp one side of the surgical staple and carefully pull it out in a straight upward motion to free it from the skin. Do not yank the staple from the skin quickly, rather pull the staple out slowly until it is free. Place the removed staple to the side and remove the second piece of the surgical staple.

  7. 7

    Repeat this process to remove each staple, working on only one staple at a time until they have all been removed.

  8. 8

    Wipe the incision site with gauzed soaked in isopropyl alcohol again, and then apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment to the small holes left behind from the surgical staple removal.

Tips and warnings

  • Always remove the surgical staples from your dog within the recommended time frame provided by your veterinarian.
  • Remove the surgical staples from your dog during a period of the day when they are most relaxed.
  • If the dog becomes highly agitated by the procedure, try taking a break and return to the process in a few hours. Just make sure to cleanse the tools and incision site again before beginning.
  • Never attempt to remove surgical staples from a dog by yourself. Even if your dog is generally very laid back, they may become agitated and you can injure them if you are trying to hold them securely and remove the staples at the same time.
  • Do not remove staples before the recommended time period.
  • Do not attempt to remove surgical staples that have been left in for too long. Contact your veterinarian for assistance.
  • If you begin to remove the surgical staples from your dog and find they are severely adhered to the skin, place a bandage over the snipped staple to prevent it from snagging on anything and contact your veterinarian for assistance.

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