First aid for cuts and grazes

Photo of rabbits, cat and dog

1. Check your pet

Check your pet for other injuries or signs of distress. Take them to the vet if you are concerned.

2. Assess the wound

If your pet’s wound is large or deep, use a clean, dry dressing for applying pressure to stop any bleeding. Contact your vet immediately for an emergency appointment.

  • Something in the wound?
    If there is something in your pet’s wound, such as piece of glass, don’t try to remove it and avoid putting pressure on it (this could push it in further). Take your pet to the vet.

3. Flush

Flush out dirt and bacteria from the wound by rinsing it with salt water* or lukewarm running water for a few minutes. After flushing, cover the wound with a clean, dry bandage. Skip this step and go straight to your vets if your pet’s wound is bleeding heavily or they are otherwise unwell.

4. Home care for a minor wound

The advice below is for minor cuts and grazes, for anything more serious seek veterinary advice.

  • Cleaning
    Use warm salt water* to gently clean around the wound. Do this 2-3 times daily until it’s healed. Don’t use anything else to clean the wound unless you have spoken to your vet, even veterinary antiseptics can slow healing.
  • Protection
    If your pet bites, licks or scratches their wound they are likely to cause serious damage and infection. Protect them with a buster collar, body suit or protective sock.
  • Infection
    Take your pet to the vet if you are concerned their wound is becoming infected or hasn’t healed within a few days. They may need antibiotics or further treatment. Signs of infection include heat, itching, swelling and redness.


* to make saline / salt water, add 1 teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled, previously boiled water.

Published: February 2019

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst