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4 min read

How to Prevent Your Dog from Scratching a Wound


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Dogs have a habit of bolting around full of energy, thinking they’re invincible. Unsurprisingly, every so often a 50m dash through a barbed wire fence ends with a nasty wound. After a considerable vet bill and some treatment, your dog will return home to you, looking cute and endearing with a nasty old wound. However, your dog isn’t home and dry just yet. It is essential your dog does not scratch, lick or play with their wound or they run the risk of a secondary infection that could be potentially life threatening.

Does your dog’s wound have pus or discharge coming from it? Does the area have a peculiar, unpleasant smell? Is your dog in visible pain or discomfort? All of these could be signs that your dog’s wound is infected and that swift treatment from your vet is needed. But knowing how to prevent a secondary infection at the wound site could save your dog’s life!

Shaved hair

When your dog has a wound or has received medical treatment, they often have the hair around the problem area shaved off. When the hair begins to grow back it can become incredibly itchy and sensitive and keeping your dog away from the area is challenging, to say the least. If you can’t keep your dog from scratching the wound, hairs can become ingrown, infected and cause serious complications.

There are a number of steps you can take though, to try and prevent your dog from scratching the problem area. T-shirts may look cute on your dog, but they could also serve another purpose. The T-shirt will create a physical barrier between paws, teeth, and the wound in question. While this may be somewhat effective, it is a very short-term solution and dedicated dogs will find a way to scratch through the T-shirt material.

Another obvious measure to take is to use a bandage. Although this will reduce airflow to the wound, which helps with the healing process, it will also prevent your dog scratching the wound and reduce the chances of a secondary infection. This is a quick and effective solution, although short term, and bandages can be changed regularly with ease.

Injury or Trauma

If your dog is as bold and brazen as most, they’ve probably leapt into danger more than once and got away with it scot-free. However, occasionally their risky behavior catches up with them and after a serious knock, they have a big old wound. But if your dog begins to scratch that wound, not only do they damage growing tissue, slowing down the recovery process, but they also get dirt, grit and bacteria into the open wound. This dirt and bacteria can quickly get into the bloodstream and cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take as an owner to minimize that risk. The first thing you could do is invest in an Elizabethan collar, also known as a ‘cone of shame’. This simple contraption goes around their neck and creates a barrier between their mouth and a bodily wound. This will be an effective short term solution, however a creative dog will find a way to scratch the wound anyway.

You could also apply a cold compress to the wound site. A cold compress will numb the problem area and should reduce the temptation of your dog to scratch. However, this will only be effective to a limited extent and for a very short while.

Environmental Factors

Your dog may often want to scratch a wound site as a result of environmental factors. Being out in the open will allow air to get into the wound, which may help the wound heal, but may also make the wound itch. If you’re out in the open, your dog is likely to scratch even more dirt and grit into the affected area.

Fortunately, you can apply an anti-itching cream to the wound site. You can pick up ointments and creams from your vet or online and then apply it regularly to the wound site. They will gently dull and numb the wound site, which will reduce the temptation of your dog to scratch. While this will be effective to some extent, it will not fully prevent your dog from wanting to itch.

Another step you can take is to apply a no-lick spray to the problem area. This is an important step to take, as their tongue will be packed full of bacteria and a damp environment is precisely what bacteria needs to thrive. The no-lick spray will make the area taste unpleasant and reduce any licking and scratching temptation. However, this will only be effective to a limited extent and will only work in the very short term.

Importance of Prevention

The effects of prevention are numerous. The most obvious benefit is that it saves your dog from further pain and discomfort. But that, in turn, will save you from substantial vet bills and give you a happier, healthier dog for longer.

The risk of further infection not only threatens your dog’s life; preventing it could also stop any other pets or children contracting nasty infections or bacteria. So for a healthier dog, cheaper vet bills, and a safer environment for you and your family, prevention is definitely the way forward.

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Prevention + Precaution

Dogs are inevitably going to end up with wounds and scratches, it’s in their nature! However, it is vital you prevent your dog from doing any further damage by scratching or licking the wound. Scratching can lead to nasty infections, slowing down the healing process and leading to new health risks. But all is not lost-- there is a range of measures you can take to prevent your dog scratching. You can use anti-itching sprays and creams, bandage the area, or use a T-shirt to cover the wound. You can also use cold compresses or topical treatments to reduce the temptation to scratch.

All of these measures will be effective, but only to a limited extent and only in the short term. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s wound throughout healing and notify your vet if you see signs of infection or complications.

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