How to Clean a Dog's Wound

Outdoor dogs often suffer from a variety of external wounds, including cuts, gashes and punctures.
sled dog,huskie,dog,sledding,dogsledding,tiger roa image by Earl Robbins from

Basic canine first aid and emergency care is a vital skill for anyone who takes their dogs for walks in rough terrain or in remote areas distant from medical assistance. While indoor pets are less likely to incur superficial injuries than outdoor dogs, the ability to clean a wound is a skill worth having for any pet owner. Topical injuries may not seem serious, but they can become infected if they are not cleaned immediately. Infections create a host of problems, some of which could result in a life-threatening condition for your dog.

Step 1

Hold your dog still and examine the skin and fur around his wound. Ask a companion to hold the dog if possible, so you can get a better look at the injury. For large or aggressive dogs, it may be necessary to request assistance to keep the dog still enough to evaluate the wound. Take your hands off the dog immediately if he begins to growl or if he shows other signs of aggression.

Step 2

Apply pressure to the site around the wound with sterile material to slow bleeding if necessary. Wear clean, disposable gloves to decrease the chance of transmitting pathogens to the skin around the dog's wound. If significant bleeding continues, wrap sterile linen or gauze securely around the wound and transport your dog to the nearest animal medical center for emergency treatment as soon as possible.

Step 3

Rinse the wound, as well as the skin and fur around it, with clean water. Slightly pressurizing the water, by squirting it from a bottle or hose, will rinse away dirt and debris more quickly. Warm tap water, or a low-concentration salt solution, is enough to wash your dog's injury. Mix one level teaspoon of salt with two cups of water to create a suitable saline solution, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Step 4

Flush the wound with hydrogen peroxide or a similar sterilizing solution to kill bacteria lingering on the surface of the exposed tissue. Only apply hydrogen peroxide to the wound once, as excessive application can damage surviving skin cells around the wound, according to the American Kennel Club.

Step 5

Take your dog to your veterinarian or a local animal hospital if he has suffered a deep wound, or if his injury continues to bleed after basic treatment. Superficial wounds may not always warrant a trip to the veterinarian's office, but even small wounds can become infected with dangerous, invasive pathogens. Consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog's wound shows signs of infection. Swelling, skin discoloration and obvious signs of festering are all good indicators that an infection is setting in.


  • Always consult a veterinarian for deep puncture wounds, as these are difficult to clean without the proper equipment.


  • Bring a friend or family member with you when you take your dog for long walks or into dangerous terrain. A companion can help restrain the dog and help carry it back to the vehicle if necessary.

Items You Will Need

  • Gauze or sterile medical linen
  • Clean, warm water or salt solution
  • Disposable gloves
  • Medical tape


About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • sled dog,huskie,dog,sledding,dogsledding,tiger roa image by Earl Robbins from