Small cuts can be safely treated at home.
Treating a cut on your dog doesn’t have to rack up a big veterinary bill. A home remedy can be effective on small cuts. However, for deep wounds or cuts over one-half inch long, your dog will need to visit a vet for sutures. Smaller cuts can be treated safely at home, creating less stress for both you and your pet.
Paw pad wounds are one of the most common dog injuries. Walking through broken glass, running on hot pavement or stepping on a sharp rock can hurt a paw. Your dog may limp or lick the injury, letting you know something is wrong. If you are uncertain about the severity of the injury, a quick call to your vet can help you decide if the cut is a candidate for a home remedy or if your pet needs to be seen for treatment.
First, examine the wound to make sure there is no debris or dirt in it. If your dog is in pain, using a muzzle will protect you from being bitten. Pick out any visible matter, then fill a bucket with warm water and antibacterial soap. You may also use a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts, if you have them available. Holding your dog in your lap while soaking the paw calms him. Most dogs will allow you to hold their paws in the water after some initial hesitation. Soaking for 10 to 15 minutes cleans the wound and softens the paw pad. If the wound involves your pet’s nail, trim it so it isn’t rough or jagged. Use paper towels or a freshly laundered towel to pat the wound dry. Next, apply an antibiotic salve liberally to the injury. Wrap the paw in gauze and then put a baby sock on the paw to keep it clean and prevent your dog from licking the salve off. Soak the paw twice a day, applying antibiotic salve after each time. If your dog continues to lick or bite at the wound, consider buying an Elizabethan collar, which is shaped like a lampshade, and discourages this behaviour.
Other cuts can be treated the same as paw cuts, though soaking them may be more difficult. The key is to disinfect and keep the wound as clean as possible to avoid infection. Clip the fur around the cut before you attempt any treatment. Flush the wound with soapy water. If you have any on hand, sterile bottled saline solution can be used to gently flush debris from the area. Then apply antibiotic salve at least twice a day.
If the cut becomes puffy and inflamed, this means it is infected. Contact your vet immediately because your dog will probably need oral antibiotics, particularly if the cut was inflicted by another dog. If the wound doesn’t seem infected but is not showing signs of healing after several days also see your vet. Finally, if you think your pet may bite or snap at you if you try to treat the wound, see your vet regardless of the severity of the injury so that your dog doesn’t hurt you.