3.4 Basic Wound Care︱Pet First Aid Course

Good wound care and bandaging shortens healing times and reduces complications. You want to do it as quickly as possible unless life-threatening injuries are present.

Superficial abrasions and skin

Chlorhexidine (chlorhexidine gluconate 2% or 4% is an excellent antiseptic for superficial abrasions and you can also use it on the skin and wound edges.Tip: Wipe away from the wound- you want to avoid dragging fur and other contaminants into the wound.

Wound irrigation

The best way to clean out deeper wounds is to irrigate them with saline. This mechanically flushes away devitalized tissue and debris. "Regular saline" (0.9% sodium chloride solution is best). Alcohol and peroxide have really fallen out of favour.

Flushing using a 35 cc syringe and an 18 gauge needle provides the optimal pressure to flush away contaminants and debris without damaging healthy tissues.

As you flush, keep the needle a safe distance away from the wound.

Irrigate the wound copiously. When in doubt, do another round. It can take many rounds of flushing to adequately clean a wound.

Rule #1: CAUSE NO HARM ‣ Avoid needles near the face, eyes or, if you're not well practiced in using syringes and needles. A squeeze bottle of saline eye wash is a good substitute if you have a wiggly pet, wounds near the eyes or face, or if you're not comfortable using syringes and needles.

SEEK VETERINARY CARE FOR ALL BUT THE MOST MINOR OF WOUNDS: The wound in this video was then sutured under sedation. A reminder that first aid is really no replacement for proper medical care. Wounds needing stitches should be seen by a veterinary team right away.


  1. Start by ensuring that the skin is dry apply wound ointments to a non-adherent dressing such as a Telfa pad.
  2. A layer of cotton stretch gauze protects and pads the wound. Wrap it snug but not too tight leaving the toes exposed so that you can monitor them for swelling and discolouration. In general, as you bandage a limb, you want to overlap each layer about 50 percent over the previous layer.
  3. A layer of elastic bandage such as VetWrap or one with an adhesive like LightPlast will help to further secure the bandage and protect it from the environment. Elastic bandage materials can easily constrict, cutting off the circulation so be very careful to not wrap too tight. It can help to first unroll the elastic and allow it to recoil a bit before wrapping it around the limb.

Bandade care

  • Keep bandages clean and dry at all times and prevent the pet from licking or chewing at them. Use an e-collar if needed.
  • Check the toes regularly for swelling and discolouration.
  • Change bandages about every 24 hours until adequately healed.

REMEMBER: Always consult a veterinarian with any concerns such as infection, poor healing or more serious wounds like this one that truly do need medical care and sutures.

TREES PET FIRST AID COURSE! This course is FREE and open to the public. We designed it for pet owners, dog walkers and pet sitters. If you pass the quiz at the end you can get a First Aid Certificate. Take notes and leave your questions and comments below :) Make sure to share with your friends that need to watch this!

Here are the 3 best pieces of advice from the emergency vet that could save your pet's life:

  1. DON'T WAIT TOO LONG TO GET HELP! If you wait too long, it could be too late. This is especially true for concerns such as laboured breathing, pale gums and weakness. You know your pet best, so if you are worried or concerned, "when in doubt, check it out!"
  2. PREVENT THE PREVENTABLE. Learn as much as possible about dangers that face your pet, such as household poisons, seemingly harmless objects (such as toys, clothing, garbage and rocks), other animals, and vehicles. Pets are like toddlers and they need a responsible adult/babysitter to protect them from danger. Puppies and kittens need to start their vaccines at 8 WEEKS (and they need boosters too!) to protect them from deadly diseases.
  3. BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST CASE SCENARIO. Have a plan in place, know your nearest emergency clinic, have the ASPCA phone number on speed dial. Know basic first aid training and CPR. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE FINANCIALLY PREPARED. The cost of medical treatment in an emergency, and the owners' ability to pay for it, is probably the most important factor that determines whether a pet will receive the medical care it needs. The best way to protect yourself is to have good medical insurance for your pet. Do your research.

**REMEMBER**: WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM, with the best interest of the patient as everyone's first priority. Let your vet do what he/she does best, and don't try to grab the steering wheel and obstruct your vet from doing his/her job. We are all in the same car, we are all headed to the same place, but only one of us has the driver's license (meaning, only the vet has the medical training and background to "drive the car").

Please remember to spay/ neuter your pet, and to donate to your local animal shelter- they really need your help!


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