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TREATING MINOR WOUNDS

Treating wounds in dogs can be a concern because often the healing process is complicated by excessive licking. When a wound is almost healed it begins to itch and the dog’s response is to lick it raw again. Also, many dogs don’t like to wear a bandage and will try to remove anything that’s applied to the wound. Many techniques have been developed to remedy this problem and often a number of things need to be tried to determine what will work with a particular individual. Definitely, careful monitoring of the situation, if at all possible, helps to train the dog to leave the wound alone.

Another serious concern is infection, especially if the wound is an animal bite. My Dobe has scars on her face from a raccoon bite; at the time I used a mild Dettol solution to disinfect the site and then applied small bandages. Fortunately, my Dobe will not remove bandages, even from her feet, though she was not pleased to have tiny Bandaids all over her face that night! A trip to the vet for antibiotics is recommended for animal bites.


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Dogs will sometimes develop a cyst between the toes that needs to be soaked in Epsom salts to draw out the infection. Fairly hot water with the salts dissolved can be made in a bucket and the infected paw submerged. This should be done at least twice a day; three to four times would be better. Afterwards, dry the paw and apply Friar’s Balsam to the wound with a Qtip. Friar’s Balsam helps relieve the itching and promotes healing; I’ve also found it alleviates any infection remarkably well. For a minor cut, Friar’s Balsam helps mend the wound and stops the bleeding; I’d like to try it on a bleeding nail to see if it works as well as styptic powder. I’ve found Friar’s Balsam in the drugstore for a few dollars; it’s very sticky and has a resinous odour.

Be careful not to spill Friar's Balsam on porcelain because you will have to soak it to remove it once it’s had a chance to harden.

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Tea tree oil is probably too aggressive to be applied to a wound but may help with skin conditions. It has a strong odour and seems to discourage licking; I suspect my dog becomes nauseated from the odour so I don’t like to use it on her front paws. An alternative is called Variton, a prescription cream obtained from your vet; I’ve used this on wounds that became itchy and were being licked; Variton has a bitter taste. I used to apply it regularly on the scar on my Dobe’s tail to prevent itching and licking. The problem resolved itself over time.

More recently, Variton has become unavailable due to a licensing problem. It's a terrible shame because it was a great product which is now sorely missed. Perhaps someone will come up with the money for the licensing fee in the future.

I often use boric acid powder in a solution as a mild antiseptic. This used to be the item of choice for eye infections, and I have used it many times over the years, but more recently its use for eyes has been questioned. Also called boracic acid, it is a milder antiseptic than Dettol. I’ve found boric acid to be very effective and I like to keep it on hand in the medicine cabinet. Use it to bathe around the eye or wound area; it does a good job of sanitizing hair and skin.

For tick removal, the approved method is to grasp the mouthparts of the tick with fine curved tweezers or curved forceps and pull straight out very slowly. Clean and rinse the area. Other methods risk allowing the contents of the tick to be injected under the victim's skin, risking serious infection. Tick-borne diseases are to be avoided.

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