Hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin are two of the most common household items in our medicine cabinets for treating wounds. While these may be fine for humans, they can actually be very dangerous and detrimental for treating animal wounds.
First, I must start by stating that I am not a vet. The information here is based on my own life experience and independent research. This is meant for minor cuts only. For anything more serious it is ALWAYS best to see a vet. This includes puncture wounds because while they may be small, they could be hazardous even if the animal that caused them had no known diseases.
Ok, so now back to minor cuts and why it’s not good to use hydrogen peroxide!
The number one reason for this is that while killing bacteria it also kills the body’s natural healing cells. These cells are called fibroblasts, and they are crucial to proper wound healing. The gratifying fizz effect is not only killing off bacteria but skin cells as well. In a pinch, it can be used for immediate attention but only when diluted. I would also flush with water afterwards because you definitely do not want your dog licking this!
How to properly clean a wound
- Stop the bleeding. Applying pressure with a piece of gauze or something like it should do this effectively. If this doesn’t work relatively quickly it’s time to get to the vet, immediately!
- Remove as much hair around the wound as you can with a simple pair of clippers (no razors). This will allow the area to heal faster undisturbed.
- Flush the area. Saline or even water is great for getting rid of dirt or debris. Pressurized washes are ideal. There are many “wound washes” but a saline eye wash will work just fine in a pinch. I just use a squeeze bottle with a pin hole opening and it works very well.
- Now it’s time to disinfect.
My favorite method is simply to continue with saline. Repeated flushes with warm water and saline until the area looks clean should be entirely adequate and making a saline solution couldn’t be easier. There are many methods out there. I use this one:
1. 1 cup of boiling water poured into a bowl
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to dissolve and leave it to cool.
It is always good to make a fresh solution each time you need it or one per day, but every two days would most likely be fine also.
Another method is
1. Using approximately one level teaspoonful (5 mls) of salt (or Epsom salts) 2. Added to two cups (500 mls) of water.
Both are effective.
I use this twice daily until the wound is healing, then once gently until it’s healed.
Another method that I’ve seen used in cases where wounds seem dirtier or when people just want extra peace of mind is:
Povidone iodine or Bentadine:
I am not a big fan of this but I do keep it in the house. It’s very important to remember to dilute it to a 1% solution. I wound use this in the beginning maybe but then switch to saline. (Also note that some animals can be allergic so it’s a good idea to test it before continued use.)
It is technically considered safe if an animal licks a small amount, so I am slightly more comfortable with this option.
The other commonly used wound care option is Chlorhexidine. I am not a fan of this. When used properly and in a solution form only (not a soap or scrub) it may be safe. If it is diluted to no more than .05% and made with “diacetate” salt and NOT “gluconate” salt, it can be an appropriate day 1 option. My biggest issue here is that it is 100% not safe to lick. It contains hibitane which is very hazardous when ingested and is an irritant to skin, eyes and nose when inhaled. I also have seen studies that show that repeated or prolonged exposure to chlorhexidine soap can cause serious organs damage. I know this is not a study done on the solution version but I still don’t like it.
Next, it’s time to
5. Dry the area and keep an eye on it.
Gauze bandages can help protect large wounds. Infection can happen at any stage so it’s important to keep checking.
6. Clean once or twice a day. You can gently massage it as it’s healing with a piece of saline soaked gauze. It is actually best to remove scab tissue during the healing process because it actually speeds up healing quite a bit. This doesn’t mean rip, which could cause more damage, but rather soaking and massaging until it’s ready to come off.
Ok, now it’s time to discuss
I’ve had problems with Neosporin when treating myself because each and every time, my wounds got worse! I know a lot of people also use it on dogs, so I thought it was worth investigating.
First of all, it is made of petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly originates from crude oil, which is toxic to skin. It also forms a film on the skin surface that slows down the healing process and prevents the wound from closing fast. Also, continued use of things containing antibiotics leads to stronger and more resistant bacteria. Then there’s the simple fact that most dogs will lick anything greasy, which creates additional trauma to the wound and prolongs healing. It is not healthy for them to ingest this either!
A lot of people prefer using nothing. In many cases this is the best method. (I stop the licking though at all costs because I know first hand this is always counterproductive to healing!)
For larger wounds that may need more care, I use a healing balm that I made myself. Colloidal silver is also wonderful. I’ve also tried plain old coconut oil and had great success! Although there are many great products on the market, I have learned the hard way not to just trust something because it says natural or organic. I still research the ingredients and one that I like a lot is resQ organics.
ResQ Organics (green label) makes an incredible product with manukora honey that I LOVE! It’s soothing, great for healing, safe to eat and helps heal any issue very fast!
Many people advise against the use of essential oils because they are not always safe when in contact with the blood stream. I support this entirely, when they are undisclosed, because it’s not worth the risk. However there are safe alternatives that can help relieve pain and speed up the healing process.
Healing Sprays And Rubs
For minor wounds, helichrysum, niaouli, sweet marjoram and lavender are all considered safe. (If you are unfamiliar with Helichrysum oil, it’s an antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and an anti-inflammatory just to name a FEW of it’s qualities. It’s amazing, and very worth checking out!)
There are more safe and healthy oils but I have a recipe for a natural
wound care spray that is:
120 ml base oil (coconut, olive, almond, jojoba etc)
4 drops helichrysum oil
5 drops niaouli oil
5 drops sweet marjoram
10 drops lavender oil
This can be used directly on an open wound to clean and treat.
For AFTER the wound has closed, I have a natural disinfectant spray recipe that is also great for stings, bites, rashes and poison ivy. It is always best to use this in moderation and no more than one or two weeks max, but it can be a lifesaver!
240 mls water
5 drops eucalyptus oil
5 drops lemongrass
2 drops cinnamon
For scar tissue (that can be problematic down the road) I use
30 mls sweet almond oil
1 drop bergamot oil
1 drop German chamomile oil
1 drop helichrysum oil
1 drop rose oil
1 drop patchouli oil
10 drops vitamin E oil
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and massage into healing scar tissue (I use this on myself as well)
For paw pad injuries:
Anti-inflammation and moisturizing wound care:
30 mls extra virgin coconut oil
2 drops rose hip oil
1-2 drops rose oil
1 drop helichrysum oil
Massage into paws as they heal from small cuts scratches or abrasions.
I used these and like them a lot but I can’t help but mention here my version of the gold standard, which is Dr. Dobias’ healing spray. The ingredients here along with resQ organics helped inspire my own healing balm. (I am holding off on sharing that recipe only because… quite frankly I lost it! We moved recently and I know that it is somewhere. When I find it I will make a separate post because I was blown away at how great it worked even on my own cuts!)
“BASED ON EUROPEAN TRADITION, MADE FROM THE FINEST HERBS
Calendula is used topically for healing wounds, acne, reducing inflammation, soothing irritated tissue and to control bleeding. It has antiviral, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Hydrastis (Goldenseal) is considered a great natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herb and is often used to boost the medicinal effects of other herbs.
Witch Hazel has astringent properties and reduces inflammation and swelling by shrinking and contracting blood vessels back to their normal size. It is also used to treat acne, bruises and insect bites.
Yucca is used to treat skin lesions, sprains, inflammation and to stop bleeding. It is also beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and joint pain.
Skin Spray is non-toxic, all natural and contains no chemicals or preservatives. It can be used for the whole family – children, adults and all pets.”
So, there you have it! That’s how we treat minor wounds now and I can’t express enough how much better things heal! My dog recently lost a dew claw. It was bad! She even needed minor surgery. After the bandages came off, she kept reopening her wound, so I had to keep it covered. In the past I used prescription cleaners. This time, I went all natural (not against the vet’s advice) and it made SUCH a significant difference, I will never go back. We don’t take chances, we see our vet, but when it comes to managing small injuries, we finally have a plethora of solutions that work incredibly well for my whole family!