Dogs, being the boisterous animals they are, get themselves into trouble frequently. Sometimes they are known to jump from great heights, or even through glass windows! They can also get into fights with other dogs and suffer bite wounds as a result.
When you first notice blood coming from your dog, you may be think, “my dog needs stitches but I can’t afford it at the moment…”. However, not all injuries require stitches to heal safely.
If your dog has a surface level cut, perhaps on its back leg, it is equivalent to that of a skinned knee on a human. You can effectively deal with this kind of injury at home with some disinfectant like Bactine and bandages.
On the other hand, if it is a deeper laceration, your dog will need veterinary care. Other injuries requiring veterinary attention include puncture wounds and bites, as these can readily get infected.
While necessary, veterinary services can get quite expensive. However, you may worry about your dog’s health and safety if you cannot afford the vet bills.
While a visit to the vet may be out of the question for now, in-depth home care can help. Furthermore, several programs such as the ASPCA, Red Rover and Mosby Foundation offer assistance in providing pet health care in the case of a serious injury.
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Before resorting to stitches, there are methods of home care that can kick start the healing process.
Make sure that you have the following items in your first aid kit before beginning treatment:
- Gauze pads
- Sterile bandages
- Betadine or other povidone iodine product
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Farnam Wound Care, coconut oil or other antimicrobial ointment
- Bandage scissors
- Elastic bandages
You may need to muzzle your dog before beginning any treatment. This is because your dog will be feeling distressed and will be more likely to act aggressively as a result. A muzzle will prevent you from being bitten.
If your dog has a surface abrasion, for example accidentally being cut with scissors while grooming, you can effectively help him from home. In good lighting, clip the hair around the wound to provide better access to the site and to prevent infection.
Clean the wound with a warm, wet washcloth, removing all blood and debris from the area. It’s also a good idea to use betadine to disinfect the wound by soaking a gauze pad in it and gently wiping the cut.
Make sure that you don’t use hydrogen peroxide to clean the cut. It is a harsher chemical compound that can damage the tissue and delay healing.
Apply a thin layer of an antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, to the wound and let it dry. Neosporin is safe for dogs and will prevent infection. Lastly, apply a bandage to protect it from the environment.
Any bandage will do, but I recommend using a butterfly bandage.
These work great on surface cuts as it closes the wound while also giving it ample air to breathe. This prevents the wound from getting moist; as we all know, a moist environment is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
See this video below on how to properly apply a butterfly band-aid:
No matter what type of bandage you use, make sure that it is not wrapped too tightly around the wound. If the bandage is too tight, it can cut off blood flow to the area and slow down the healing process.
The ointment will need to be applied a few times a day, and the dressing will need to be changed as well. To prevent your dog from over-licking the spot and removing the ointment, you may need to place a cone collar around their neck.
For deep cuts, a visit to the vet is the best option.
When this cannot happen, you need to give the wound careful attention to prevent infection and instigate healing.
If your dog is still bleeding, place a clean towel onto the wound and apply gentle pressure until it stops. As with a surface abrasion, clip the hair surrounding the injury to get a better view of the site.
Begin by flushing the wound out with lukewarm water. Preferably, use a syringe to squirt high-pressure water into the wound. Obviously, do not use a syringe with a needle attached!
If you do not have a syringe, use the kitchen sink sprayer or a Neti pot to flush out the wound. Pressurized water will remove blood and debris from the spot. Make sure the pressure is light enough to avoid hurting your dog.
Apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound and wrap it in a bandage.
Use Telfa for an open wound; otherwise, gauze will work just fine. Keep the wrapping tight enough to avoid slipping, but loose enough to prevent swelling. If you notice drainage, change it immediately. No matter what, change the bandage approximately every 8 hours.
Keep a careful eye on your dog. Any changes in behavior, like not eating and drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, or abnormal urination or bowel movements, mean your dog needs immediate veterinary attention.
Check your dog’s temperature every few hours. If his temperature exceeds 103 degrees, he needs to see a vet.
Other signs your dog needs a vet include swelling, foul odor, yellow or bloody discharge, pain, or redness. These indicate an infection.
If your dog shows signs of infection, he requires immediate medical attention.
Depending on your circumstances, this could cause substantial financial hardship. Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. There are ample methods to get your dog the health care he needs, even if you lack the funds yourself.
Ask your vet for a payment plan, where you can pay off the cost of the visit over a set period. If they do not offer such a program, there are plenty of other options out there.
Search for veterinary degree programs in universities in your area. Since the students are learning veterinary medicine, the cost of treatment is likely lower.
Local animal shelters and animal support groups may have resources to connect you to an organization able to pay for your dog’s health care.
You can create a GoFundMe for your dog. Through this crowdfunding website, you can ask family and friends for a little financial help. Also, since it is on the Internet, you can advertise your fundraiser elsewhere, making it possible for anyone to help your dog out.
RedRover has a program where they will offer a grant to help pay for your pet’s medical expenses.
Harley’s Hope Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance for low-income pet owners and aid to companion or service animals.
The ASPCA has programs in certain cities that offer free or low-cost health services to dogs. They also have resources to connect you to other programs in your area.
How Much Do Vets Charge For Stitches?
Any visit to the vet will start with an initial consultation and examination, with a fee that usually ranges from $30 to $45.
From there, the cost for stitches will depend on the severity of the wound and the expertise and equipment needed to carry the procedure out. For example, different wounds may require different types of stitches- traditional, or dissolvable.
For a small procedure requiring 3 or 4 stitches, expect to pay in the range of $100 to $300 total, depending on the vet clinic that you go to. This will include the costs of the tranquilizer and anesthetic used to sedate the dog, the procedure itself and then also the bandaging material.
Bigger cuts that need more stitching will obviously be more costly, ranging from $500 and upwards.
Remember that when you take your dog into the vet for stitches, it will be evaluated for all of its injuries. Total costs that could also add up include pain medication, antibiotics, and an E-collar to keep the dog from licking the wound.
At all costs, do not attempt to stitch your dog at home.
Unless you are a medical professional, you will only give your dog grief and cause an infection.
The best you can do until you can get medical attention is to keep the wound clean, apply antibiotic ointment, and change the bandage regularly. Please keep your dog from licking it and keep him away from other dogs or animals that could worsen the wound.
Stay calm and take good care of your dog. Ensure he is eating, drinking, and behaving normally, and keep a critical eye on him so that his temperature does not increase too much. Clean up any signs of discharge and keep your dog comfortable.
At the end of the day, while these are horrible circumstances, getting your dog the veterinary attention he needs without breaking the bank is possible.
If your dog has been cut, bitten, or scraped, you may still be able to treat it at home depending on the severity of the wound.
Most surface level injuries can be closed and healed without needing stitches by a vet. By stopping bleeding, cleaning the wound and covering it with a suitable dressing, you can help your dog to recover without professional suturing.
However, when it is a deeper cut, it is still best to take your dog to the vet for it to be handled properly. This will drastically reduce the chance of infection and lessen the amount of pain that your dog goes through.
If you can’t afford it at the moment, that’s totally understandable and something everyone has experienced.
There are many foundations and organizations such as the ASPCA or GoFundMe where you can apply for financial assistance to help make your pet better again.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.