Dog Friendly Tips: Cuts
Dogs hustling through barbed-wire fences, stepping on broken bottles, scratching in ash piles, and stepping on concealed metal scraps come home gashed, bleeding, and torn.
Most of the cuts that occur on dog skins are triangular tears or clean, straight cuts. In either case only a limited kind of first aid should be administered.
In dog saliva there is an enzyme that combats bacteria. The surface of a dog's tongue is made up of small, tough scales so strong that it can wear flesh away if it wants to. There is no better way of cleaning a cut than allowing the dog to lick it. It will lick away all dead flesh or debris and kill germs as it does so. Eventually it will heal its own wounds.
First aid consists not of strapping the cut together with adhesive tape, nor of binding up the wound, unless it is bleeding badly, but allowing the dog to clean its own wound, then having the vet treat the dog. Though it may not be an emergency, let the vet advise the proper treatment. He may cut away any dead edges on the flap and suture the wound in place, so that when it has healed no ugly scar will remain.
There are some cuts that dogs cannot reach to lick. In long-haired dogs these may be covered with hair, which should be trimmed off around the area. Or they may be on areas of the body, such as the neck, head, face, and shoulders, which the dog cannot reach. In these cases, clean the cuts yourself (hydrogen peroxide is excellent for this purpose) and take the dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Cuts in the feet usually cause profuse bleeding since this is a vascular area. A cut of this sort should always be examined to see if a foreign object has remained in it. After the examination it is necessary to stop the bleeding. A plug of cotton pressed against the opening and a pressure bandage that holds it there will quickly check the bleeding.
If serious heamorrhage is observed, apply a tourniquet immediately above or below the joint above it. It must be loosened and reapplied every ten minutes. (On the trip to the vets take along some cloths to absorb blood, which may stain your clothes or the car.)
The most dangerous cuts arc those made by filthy objects. These cuts may heal or matt over with hair that becomes part of a scab, and tetanus (lockjaw) germs may infect these wounds.
Since they can develop only in a wound that the air cannot reach, cuts or punctures of this sort must be opened, cleansed, and kept open until they have been disinfected and sutured. There are some wounds that are best left for a considerable length of time. These most be flushed daily while they heal from the bottom out, and they are sutured to avoid unsightly scars only when the healing process has reached the surface layers of the skin.