Disinfecting and Bandaging a Dog Scratch

Any wound, even a small dog scratch, can become infected. Scratches occur when your dog is self-injured due to severe itching, spars with another animal or encounters sharp objects. Appropriate treatment for lacerations to the skin includes cleaning, disinfecting and bandaging the site. Always keep a first aid kit handy so you can treat a scratch as soon as possible to prevent infection and complications. Do not ignore any scratch, no matter how small.

Cleaning a Scratch or Minor Open Wound

Here are the steps to follow in cleaning a scratch or minor open wound:

  • Remove dirt or other material from the site using tweezers or fingers
  • Flush the site with 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide (available over-the-counter), antiseptic solution or water. You can pour the disinfectant over the site or spray it with a plant sprayer.
  • Cut hair away from the site. Rub water-soluble gel on the scissors so cut hair will stick to the blades..

Bandaging a Scratch or Minor Open Wound

Here are the steps to follow in bandaging a scratch or minor open wound:

  • Put a sterile, absorbent pad over the site. Use a clean swatch of material or tissue, paper towel or toilet paper dipped in water-soluble gel as a substitute.
  • Wrap a gauze bandage over the pad, leaving one-third of the bandage exposed with each layer. Also cover some of the hair on both edges of the bandage. Be careful not to bandage too tightly, as this may impede circulation.
  • Wrap the bandage with adhesive bandage or tape just as you wrapped the pad with gauze.

Checking and Changing a Bandage

Check your dog's bandage often. If you notice swelling or drainage seeping through the bandage, contact your vet. Keep your dog's bandage dry at all times, covering it with a plastic bag (grocery or bread bags, for instance) if it is subject to getting soiled during bathroom or recreational breaks outdoors. Prevent your dog from chewing the bandage off with an Elizabethan collar or neck brace. Change the bandage daily, or as directed by your vet.

Deciding How Serious a Scratch or Wound Is

Severe wounds always require prompt medical attention. The hallmark of a severe wound is bleeding. If blood is spurting from your dog's scratch or wound (no matter how small), bleeding does not cease with pressure after five minutes, bright red blood is present in vomit or diarrhea or bleeding occurs from a body opening, continue to apply pressure with sterile material and see your vet at once. Note: Do not apply hydrogen peroxide to a large or bleeding wound because it interferes with clotting.

Scratches can also signal closed wounds, which have other symptoms like swelling, bruising and heat spots. Closed wounds can mask severer internal damage. The tiniest wounds, puncture wounds, may also indicate serious injury. Always have your vet evaluate closed and puncture wounds.