Has your dog just been neutered or spayed? Did your dog undergo another type of surgery? Proper care for a dog after surgery is vital to promote healing and prevent infection. Surgery after care for a dog must include cleaning the incision, but many owners are unsure of how to properly clean and care for the dog’s stitches and incision. Keep reading for tips on how to clean and care for a dog’s incision after surgery!
SOFTEN THE DRIED FLUID AROUND THE DOG’S INCISION: Saturate a washcloth with some very warm water. Hold it over the dog’s surgical incision for about 5-10 minutes. This will soften the dried fluid, making it easy to remove. This is usually only necessary for the first day or two after the surgery or injury. If you are seeing significant discharge from the dog’s incision or wound after the first 36-48 hours, there is a very good chance the dog has developed an infection in the surgical incision or wound – cause for a visit to the veterinarian.
REMOVE THE DRIED FLUID THAT’S FORMED AROUND THE DOG’S INCISION/WOUND AND STITCHES: Dampen a Q-tip with hot water and gently clean the dried fluids that have formed near the incision. The dried blood and dried fluids around the dog’s surgical incision should come right off; if not, reapply the warm washcloth for a few more minutes and then reattempt to clean the area around the incision.
APPLY BETA-DINE ONTO THE INCISION OR WOUND: Clean the dog’s incision using a generous amount of beta-dine. The beta-dine can be applied to the incision by simply pouring a little bit onto the incision or wound. Dog owners can also apply a generous amount of beta-dine to a sterile gauze pad and dab the antiseptic onto the dog’s wound. Dabbing (rather than rubbing or wiping) is best when stitches are present. Beta-dine should be applied to the dog’s wound or incision, and to the area within a one-inch perimeter of the site to prevent infection.
ALLOW THE BETA-DINE TO AIR DRY: Allow the beta-dine to air dry. Do not blow on the incision or wound to dry the beta-dine; this will only transfer bacteria to the site.
REPEAT THIS WOUND OR INCISION CLEANING PROCESS FOR THE DOG 2-3 TIMES A DAY: Frequent cleanings are necessary to keep the dog’s surgical incision or sutured wound clean and free of infection. Monitor the dog’s incision or wound closely. The dog’s stitches should not appear taught; the edges of the wound or incision should not pull apart; the dog’s wound or incision should not increase in terms of swelling, redness or discharge after the first 24 hours. If you see any of these signs, it suggests that the dog’s incision or wound is infected.
Tips & Warnings
- Always keep an e-collar on your dog until the healing process is complete. E-collars are also known as “lampshades” or “cones.” Pain can trigger licking; itchy skin later in the healing process can cause the dog to bite at the stitches, resulting in premature removal of the stitches.
- Muzzle your dog during the first couple days when cleaning the dog’s surgical incision or wound with stitches. The wound will be tender and painful during the first couple of days and this can cause even a very loving, friendly dog to nip or bite.
- NEVER USE HYDROGEN PEROXIDE TO CLEAN AN INCISION OR WOUND! Hydrogen peroxide will damage the tissue; this will extend the healing period for the dog’s incision or sutured wound. Hydrogen peroxide may be used full-strength for the first 24 hours of cleaning; after that, it must be used at 50% strength (mixed with water.) Hydrogen peroxide should not be used unless absolutely necessary; it is much less effective than betadine, an orange-red fluid that’s used to disinfect a patient’s surgical site prior to surgery.