Whether your dog bears a scar from surgery, a burn or an accident, you may want to reduce the size and appearance of scar tissue with a variety of traditional and alternative treatments. Scar prevention can begin immediately after surgery, and scars from wounds that have already healed normally can be treated, too. A particular type of scar, called a keloid, should be carefully watched and occasionally requires more aggressive veterinary treatment.
New Scars: Natural Approach
Surgical incisions typically heal within two weeks in healthy dogs, according to Pet Place, and scar development takes place during the third week. A kelp-based sulphur compound called methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, taken internally is thought to help limit scar tissue in dogs, according to Pet Education, as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Consult your veterinarian for instructions in how to add MSM to the diet of a healing dog, either as a supplement or by increasing MSM-containing foods such as meat, eggs and raw fruits and vegetables.
New Scars: Pharmaceutical Approach
According to Vet Info Digest, some scarring situations benefit from steroid administration. For example, dogs can develop ear hematomas, which are haemorrhages in the ear flaps caused by mites or allergies. Vets typically drain the blood inside the hematomas to reduce their size, and a major risk during the healing process is serious ear scarring. In cases like this, a drug such as prednisone serves a dual purpose: By reducing inflammation it helps limit scarring and controls pain during the healing process.
Scars from the past that healed normally may benefit from vitamin E. This vitamin can reduce skin inflammation, according to My Dog Info, and some owners squeeze the oil out of vitamin E capsules to massage into old scars to soften them. Ingested vitamin E may help repair scarred skin; consult your vet for the proper dosage for your dog.
In rare cases, keloid fibromas develop from within normal canine scar tissue. The body’s collagen, which heals wounds, overgrows in some areas and produces this lumpy and sometimes painful excessive scar tissue. When this process happens, veterinarians can surgically remove the excess keloidal tissue to reduce discomfort or pain. In even rarer cases, malignant keloid fibrosarcomas arise from dog scars, according to Veterinary Pathology, and these must be removed.
Aloe Vera, Honey and Wheat Grass
Anecdotal evidence for the use of topical aloe vera, manuka honey and wheat grass can be found on the Internet. See the resources section of this story for links that discuss using these substances to reduce canine scars. If you choose to use a natural topical treatment during your dog’s healing period, consult your veterinarian first. Applying anything directly onto a wound that hasn’t closed properly can cause complications, and you do not want to reopen a wound while massaging or spraying topical treatments into the skin.