When your dog is hurt, you have no time to lose. Your pet needs attention. Now. Considering the many scrapes and tussles a typical dog will endure in a long, eventful lifetime, it’s good to know that you safely can handle some of his or her health problems by at home. But which ones? And how? And which situations definitely require a veterinarian’s immediate attention?
While pet owners learn various home remedies from friends and others over time, you may be surprised to learn that veterinarians consider some to be potentially dangerous to dogs. Use soap or hydrogen peroxide on a wound? No, veterinarians say. The chemicals can be harmful. Remove a tick is by touching it with a lighted match, so that it will back out of your dog’s body? Wrong. It doesn’t work. And you could burn your dog. Use a tourniquet to stop bleeding? Only as a last resort and only if you loosen it frequently.
When a dog experiences a soft tissue injury—a broad term covering a range of internal and external injuries from a minor scratch to a bruised lung—it can be difficult to determine if a veterinary visit is in order. While many dogs occasionally sustain minor scratches, abrasions, or bruises, more serious soft tissue injuries usually involve trauma, such as being struck by a car, being involved in a dog fight or falling from high places, which could include a small dog’s jump from an owner’s arms to the floor.
Injury to a dog’s skin—such as a laceration (a ragged tear), abrasion (the skin is rubbed or scraped away), or cut—is probably the most obvious type of soft tissue injury because it’s the most visible. Sometimes, however, a long or dark coat will make a wound difficult to see. Skin injuries may look bad, but in a healthy dog, healing is rarely a problem. The biggest concern is prevention of infection.
Owners can wash, disinfect, and bandage minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but a veterinarian can best determine the extent of injury presented by more major wounds. In cases of trauma, sudden lameness, or breathing difficulty, always take your dog to the veterinarian. Be aware that sometimes, dogs suffer traumas that aren’t apparent to their owners.
Still it’s possible to deal with some situations at home. To learn about common dog care issues and solutions, purchase Dog Care & Nutrition from Tufts Good Dog Library of Your Dog.