How to Bathe a Dog With Stitches

Hard
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Maddy the Poodle cross has just come back from the veterinarian, at 6 months of age, after being spayed. After her first small meal, while still recovering from the anesthetic, she gets sick and vomits all over herself. Yuck!  Maddy’s owner would like to bath her, but of course, she has stitches. 

Can you bathe a dog with stitches?  How do you bathe a dog with stitches?   

Most veterinarians recommend not bathing a dog with stitches until 7-10 days after stitches are placed to give the wound time to heal. Contaminating the wound area with dirty water should be avoided and detergents and soaps can easily irritate skin in the area, so caution needs to be exercised when bathing a dog with stitches to ensure that wounds are not contaminated or irritated. Also, water can cause stitches to loosen, which can open the closure and result in hemorrhaging or bacteria getting into the incision or wound, either of which can result in a very serious issue.  If your dog has become seriously soiled and has stitches, there are a couple of modified bathing options you can employ to clean her up.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog has stitches he or she may not be feeling very well, after all they have either just suffered an injury or had surgery.  A dog that is experiencing stress from a medical procedure may be likely to behave defensively, or out of character. Take care when cleaning a dog with stitches not only to not injure or put pressure on the wound with stitches when handling, which can hurt your dog, but also watch for signs of stress and aggression and adjust your handling accordingly.

The Spot Bathing Method

Effective
0 Votes
Pin Brush
Towel
Step
1
Handle carefully
Carefully handle your dog with stitches while cleaning so as not to put pressure on the stitched incision or wound.
Step
2
Brush carefully
Brush your dog with a soft brush, taking care to avoid the stitches. Brushing will remove dead hair and removes debris and dirt.
Step
3
Use face cloth
Use a face cloth. Wet the face cloth down with warm water and wipe your dog gently all over his body to dampen, staying away from the stitches. Add surgical soap if necessary to the face cloth to clean soiled areas.
Step
4
Rinse with face cloth
Wet face 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 towel and blow dry areas that are away from wounds on low heat setting. Leave stitched areas to air dry. Brush your dog to fluff him up. Avoid stitches with the towel, brush and dryer.
Recommend grooming method?

The Alternative Bathing Method

Effective
0 Votes
Spray
Towel
Step
1
Use wipes
Carefully use dog wipes to clean areas away from your dog's stitches. Do not get product from wipes on the stitched wound area.
Step
2
Rinse after wipes
After using commercial dog wipes, wipe the area you applied with a damp, warm face cloth and pat dry with a towel.
Step
3
Use dry shampoo
If feasible, use a dry dog shampoo on an area away from stitches. Do not use if there is risk of getting the dry shampoo in the wounded area.
Step
4
Manually clean
Remove debris, feces, mud, etc. with your fingers. Wear rubber gloves if necessary. Be gentle and stay away from stitches. In soiled areas, you can gently rub with a damp cloth.
Step
5
Cover stitches
Cover stitched area with a waterproof barrier like plastic wrap, using surgical tape or wrap to hold in place. Spray area soiled with warm water from a spray bottle, keeping water away from wounded stitched area. This method is only appropriate if the soiled area and stitched area are located on different parts of the body, or if stitching can be protected. Water can loosen stitches and contaminate wounds. Use a gentle surgical soap on a cloth or cotton ball applied to soiled area to clean. Wipe with wet cloth or spray with water to rinse.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If possible, avoid bathing dogs until 7-10 days after stitches have been placed.  Remember that water can loosens stitches and contaminants from bathing, including water, can affect wounds and stitching.
  • A dog with stitches may be in pain and stressed. Handle with care so as not to cause further injury or discomfort and be aware of possible changes in behavior.
  • Do not get soaps and detergents on wounds and stitches, work carefully and locally to avoid getting soap and water on stitches.
  • Dogs with stitches may be recovering from significant trauma or anesthesia that impairs temperature regulation. Be careful your dog does not get chilled during cleaning.

Conclusion

If possible, avoid bathing your dog with stitches until 7-10 days after the stitches are placed to allow wounds to heal. Water and debris can loosen stitches or contaminate the wounded area. Also, a dog with stitched should be confined to minimal activity to prevent the stitches from coming loose, and bathing activity can place stress on stitches. If your dog is extremely soiled and needs cleaning, alternative methods such as spot cleaning using wipes, dry shampoos, or covering stitches and using a spray bottle may be employed, to remove debris that if left could eventually contaminate wounded areas. Work carefully so as not to stress or further injure your dog and avoid contaminating or wetting stitches.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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