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By Dr. Amy Lightstone
If you and your pup frequent the dog park, chances are high that your pet may experience some sort of injury at least once, and more if they like to play rough. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when running around with other friends, leading to minor scratches on our dog’s paws from rocks and other debris on the ground. When our pups are going full speed ahead, they can also pull muscles, throw out their backs, get bite wounds, and even tear ligaments. Here’s a quick guide on what to do when you’re leaving the park with an injured dog.
Gently clean minor scratches on your dog with a little iodine. You can also use hydrogen peroxide, but be warned – peroxide can burn a bit! For good measure, apply a light layer of triple antibiotic ointment, or Neosporin, 1-2 times daily. This will help speed up the healing and prevent infection.
It’s helpful to soak minor wounds on paws in warm water with epsom salts 2-3 times daily. If you notice a strange odor, increased redness, or discharge that looks like pus when treating a wound, it is time for a vet visit. You should also check in with a vet if you are concerned your dog has a deep cut, or if your dog has a wound that is bleeding a lot.
It’s not uncommon to see our pups mildly limping after playing really hard for a few hours. Let your fur baby have a couple of days to rest, with short leash walks to go potty. As long as they continue to improve, great! If the limp gets worse or your pup seems to be in a lot of pain, have them checked by the vet. Joint supplements can also help keep your dog’s joints in good shape for quicker recovery, especially in older pets who may be developing some arthritis.
If your dog is running full speed ahead and suddenly yelps, get them checked out straight away. You should also see if they are trying to not put weight on their leg. An injured dog may act this way when they fracture bones, tear ligaments, or slip discs in their backs. They may need x-rays and will definitely need some pain relief! For strains and sprains, rest and anti-inflammatories are often what’s needed to get our pups back on their paws again.
Occasionally, our dogs can get into scuffles at the dog park, in the midst of all their excitement. These interactions are usually pretty minor, but sometimes they can escalate into serious bite wounds. If your pet gets a bite wound at the dog park, bring them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. What may appear to be a relatively minor bite can end up being more extensive than it appears. Some bite wounds create a pocket under the skin and it may need minor surgery or a drain placement to heal properly. There is also a huge amount of bacteria in a dog’s mouth, leading to a nasty infection. Treat bite wounds sooner rather than later. Bite wounds can get worse quickly when not properly taken care of.
When in doubt, hop on the app and let us know what is going on. We are happy to help guide you to help your injured dog!