Basic First Aid – Minor Wounds

Below is some advice for dealing with minor wounds at home. You should contact us if you have an emergency with your pet such as difficulty breathing, moderate-severe bleeding, collapse, broken bones, seizures, eye injuries or head injuries.

Always assess the situation for any safety hazards before
assisting your pet- do not put yourself in danger.

Minor cuts/abrasions

Many minor cuts and grazes can be managed at home, but it is important to keep these wounds clean to avoid potential infection. Wounds can be effectively cleaned with salt water – you must first boil the water before leaving it to cool. 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 pint of water is plenty and is safe to use in all species.

Cotton wool can stick to wounds, so we recommend using kitchen paper towel or cotton pads instead.


Clean the wound from the centre outwards. A new piece of kitchen towel or cotton pad should be used each time (rather than dipping this back into the salt water solution). Keep cleaning until all dirt and debris has been removed. Do not clean so vigorously as to irritate the surrounding skin.

You may need to trim some of the surrounding hair. The safest way to do this is by using hair clippers, but a razor can be used in the absence of this. Scissors should only be used with the utmost care and can potentially cause further injury, however may be used on long strands of hair that are contaminating the wound.

If you have disposable gloves to use, it is recommended that you wear them if treating a pet’s wound at home. If these aren’t available, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after treating the wound, and take extra care not to touch the wound itself.

Protecting the wound

You should try to prevent yor dog or cat from licking the wound. A buster collr is ideal f you have one available. T-shirts and baby-grows can also be effective barriers against persistent lickers!

Dressings and bandages can be placed if appropriate. Full limb dressings should not be placed unless you have been shown how to do this by someone experienced. Damage can be caused to the limb if bandages are placed too tightly or incorrectly. Monitor the area around the dressing or bandage for any swelling. The dressing should be removed if swelling occurs, and veterinary advice should be sought.

Animals living on bedding such as woodchips or sand should instead be housed on a substrate such as newspaper until the wound has healed. This is to stop further contamination of the wound.

When to call the vet

  • There is heavy contamination in the wound
  • There is a tear or flap in the skin which exposes the muscle layer underneath.
  • The wound was caused by an animal bite
  • The wound does not appear to be healing within a couple of days
  • Inflammation or pus is present, the surrounding area is hot or the animal appears to be unwell.