How to Bathe a Dog With Open Wounds

Hard
20 - 60 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

Yikes! Your dog got tangled in a barbed wire fence, fought with the neighbor's dog, or impaled himself on a sharp stick, and now he has an open wound that the veterinarian has suggested stay open to drain, as stitching is not currently an option. But your dog needs bathing; he has blood all over his coat and debris from his accident. Also, he stinks, because he was so stressed during the incident that the release of natural chemicals on his body has caused him to smell pretty funky. 

 Since you will need to keep him contained in your house while he recovers and to provide treatment, you need to do something about his dirty, smelly condition. How do you bathe a dog with open wounds though? Will a regular bath cause problems for his wounds? Yes, regular shampoo and the handling and mechanics of your usual bathing procedure can irritate and cause further damage to open wounds.  But there are solutions for cleaning up your patient.   A little adjustment is needed, but soon you will have your injured pup looking and smelling much better.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog is injured, he may have experienced quite a bit of stress during the incident that injured him. He may be anxious or traumatized by the incident, or experiencing pain from his injuries. Either of these factors can make a usually docile, bath-loving canine unpredictable, or even react aggressively to handling for a bath. Be aware of this and go slowly to see what your dog is comfortable with. Take precautions. Also, be aware of your dog’s injuries and compensate for them when handling and moving your dog so as to cause minimal discomfort.

The Careful Bath Method

Effective
0 Votes
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Pick up carefully
Carefully handle your dog to lift into the bath area so as not to interfere with wounds or manipulate limbs or parts of the body that are injured.
Step
2
Gently wet down
Gently pour water over your dog. Avoid contaminating open wounds with water from other parts of your dog's body. Make sure water is warm, not hot or cold. Do not use a shower head as the friction can hurt wounds.
Step
3
No shampoo
Once your dog is wet, do not use a regular shampoo to clean him, you can use a surgical scrub in the wound area, if recommended by your veterinarian, or a saline solution with 1 tsp of epsom salts, mixed with 2 cups of water, in the wound area. Pour gently over the wound area, do not scrub.
Step
4
Manually remove debris
Avoid using shampoo on other parts of your dog, regular shampoo will irritate open wounds. Instead, use your fingers to gently loosen and remove mud, and debris. If feces is present, wear rubber gloves and remove manually. Rinse the area with saline solution. Do not use conditioner or other products.
Step
5
Dry
Carefully pat dry with towel, avoiding open wound areas. You can carefully blow dry fur that is not near the open wound.
Recommend grooming method?

The Spot Bathing Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Brush
Brush your dog with a soft brush, taking care to avoid open wound areas. Brushing will remove dead hair, debris and dirt
Step
2
Use cloth
Use a facecloth. Wet the cloth down with warm water and wipe your dog gently all over his body to dampen. Stay away from the open wound area.
Step
3
Manually remove debris
Remove debris, feces, mud, etc. with your fingers; wear rubber gloves if necessary. Be gentle and stay away from wounds. In soiled areas you can gently rub with a damp cloth if not near wounds.
Step
4
Wipe to rinse
Wet the cloth again with clean water and wipe over your dog again to “rinse” him. Avoid contaminating wounded areas.
Step
5
Dry carefully
Pat your dog dry with a towel and blow dry areas that are away from wounds on low heat setting. Leave wounded areas to air dry. Brush your dog to fluff him up. Avoid open wounds with the towel, brush and dryer.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Avoid contaminating open wounds with bacteria from other parts of your dog's body when bathing a wounded dog.
  • Do not use detergents, soaps, shampoos or other products on or near open wounds.  Avoid when bathing so that water or soap does not run into open wounds and cause damage.
  • Be cautious bathing a wounded dog, as pain and discomfort can result in personality changes and aggression.
  • Move slowly and carefully when handling a wounded dog to determine what causes discomfort and needs to be avoided.
  • Follow your veterinarian's recommendations for treating and cleaning wounds.
  • If bathing is not necessary for a dog with open wounds, avoid it when possible.

Conclusion


If you need to bathe a dog with open wounds you are going to need to be careful, extremely careful. You do not want to contaminate the wounds with bacteria and dirt from your dog's body, or get irritating detergents or bathing products in the wound. Use water only, and spot clean to prevent wounds from further damage. Use your fingers to remove debris as necessary, and be gentle and patient. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions for cleaning open wounds that may involve saline solutions or surgical preparations, follow instructions closely to heal your hurt hound.

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