Let’s imagine your furry friend gets into a little mischief and ends up with a significant injury. While your veterinarian can work their magic and fix them up, the healing process is not as instantaneous as we might hope. It will take time and proper wound care to restore your dog’s injury fully. In this article, we will explore the four stages of dog wound healing, potential warning signs, and how you can support your pup in their recovery.
Stage 1 – Inflammation
Dogs may be a different species, but they share more similarities with us than you might think. Just like humans, dogs love having fun, and they also experience inflammation after an injury. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, whether it’s a sprained ankle or a cut. In the healing process, it is the first stage.
During this stage, the body slows down blood flow and activates the immune system. There are five common symptoms of inflammation: swelling, pain, redness, heat, and immobility or loss of function. Think of inflammation as the body’s way of calling for backup in times of trouble.
Stage 2 – Debridement
If inflammation is the team of firefighters, debridement is the cleanup crew that comes in afterward to remove debris and other unsalvageable material.
Debridement starts shortly after the injury and involves getting rid of dead tissues and cells while eliminating any bacteria present. Pus is also produced to carry away debris as it exits the body. There are two types of debridement: selective and non-selective. Selective debridement targets damaged tissue without harming healthy tissue, while non-selective debridement doesn’t differentiate between healthy and unhealthy tissue.
There are various forms of debridement, including autolytic, surgical, and mechanical. Autolytic debridement is a natural process where white blood cells liquefy damaged tissue. Surgical debridement involves removing unhealthy tissue during surgery. Mechanical debridement, although less popular, should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Stage 3 – Repair
Once the fire is extinguished and the debris is cleared, the repair phase can begin. This phase starts a few days after the initial injury or operation and is less alarming than the previous stages.
During the repair phase, cells naturally rebuild the damaged or removed tissues. Depending on the nature of the wound, primary intention or secondary intention healing may occur. Primary intention healing happens when the wound is closed by fusing the skin on either side of the incision. On the other hand, secondary intention healing occurs when the wound cannot be closed with stitches or simple surgery. Instead, new tissue gradually fills the wound from the bottom upwards.
Stage 4 – Maturation
Your furry friend is on their way back to their usual routine, but the healing process isn’t complete yet. During the maturation stage, the body reabsorbs excess collagen deposited during the repair phase. Collagen fibers reorganize, and scar tissue becomes thinner and stronger over time.
It’s important to monitor your dog’s activities during this stage, especially those that could affect the wounded area. While the scar will never disappear completely, you can expect it to be about 85% as resilient as before. So, be cautious and prevent any re-injury that could occur, especially in the early weeks or months of recovery.
Supporting Your Pup Through the Healing Stages
As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to ensure your dog’s wounds are healthy and actively healing. To aid in the healing process, follow these steps:
Step 1: Wound Management
Keep the wound clean and moisturized by using a non-toxic antimicrobial cleaning spray three or four times daily. Vetericyn Plus® offers a unique technology that enhances your dog’s inherent healing mechanism. Remove any potentially contaminating debris to prevent infection.
Step 2: Antimicrobial Hydrogel
After cleaning the wound, apply a cooling and protective layer of antimicrobial hydrogel. This will keep the wound clean, infection-free, and provide much-needed moisture for effective healing.
Remember to regularly monitor your dog’s progress and intervene if you notice any warning signs or abnormalities. With proper care, your pup will be back on their paws in no time.
This article was written with Katten TrimSalon in mind, focusing on the healing stages of dog wounds. We hope this information helps you take care of your furry friend during their recovery journey.