First aid for wounds, cuts and grazes

dog, rabbit and cat photo

Overview

  • Always have your pet checked by your vet if they have been bitten or attacked.
  • Bite wounds very often get infected because mouths are so full of bacteria. They also tend to be more serious than they look because of hidden damage below the skin.
  • Snakebites are especially dangerous and should be treated ASAP.

What to do if your pet has been bitten

Step one: Assess your pet

  • Do they seem otherwise OK? Do they have any other injuries? Are they in shock?
  • If you are worried about your pet, cover their wounds, keep them warm and take them straight to your vets.

Step two: Assess the bite wound

  • Small and not bleeding - move to step three.
  • Bleeding heavily - apply pressure with a dry, clean dressing and go straight to your vets.
  • Areas of skin missing - cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing and go straight to your vets. If your pet seems painful when you try to cover the wound or you don’t have a dressing available then don’t try to cover the area as you may cause more damage.
  • Snakebite - put an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on the bite, and take your pet straight to the nearest vets.

Step three: Flush the wound

  • If your dog has a small bite wound that isn’t bleeding heavily, flush it with lukewarm, salty water* to remove as much bacteria as possible. Rinse for as long as your dog will tolerate.
  • *Make salt water by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled (previously boiled) water.

Step four: Book an appointment with your vet

Bite wounds should always be checked by a vet because they are often more serious than they look, and are likely to get infected.

Illustration showing cleaning solution

Make salt water by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled (previously boiled) water. Click image to enlarge.

Published: April 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst