What to do about lacerations or cuts on dogs or cats

Dogs and cats are often curious and like to get into things that can cause injuries like cuts or lacerations. On the other hand, accidents can also happen during a grooming session with scissors or clippers, your pet could be scratched in a scuffle or rub up against a sharp object like a tree branch.

What should I do if my cat or dog has a cut or laceration?

Whatever the cause, treatment for a cut or laceration will vary, but here are some general guidelines on what to do if your pet has one.

The first and most important thing is to stay calm and take a minute to assess the situation. Remember that your pet might be in pain and could bite you while you're trying to touch the wound. It is best to muzzle your pet for your safety. Then, follow the at-home care steps below:

  • Take note of where the cut/laceration is located.
  • Check to see if there a large amount of blood. If so, take your pet straight to a pet emergency room. Follow the steps below to control the bleeding while on the way:
  • If you have a pet first aid kid available, use gauze or bandages to control the bleeding. (Learn more about building a first aid kit for your pet)
  • If you don't have bandages or a pet first aid kit, you can improvise by using a clean towel, shirt, cloth, etc., to apply pressure to the wound.
  • Once you have controlled the bleeding, wash your hands thoroughly and seek immediate veterinary treatment.

Severe Cuts and Lacerations

Many wounds are superficial or shallow and may not even require sutures (stitches). It is still possible, however, that the cut can become infected. If the cut is deep, then sutures or staples may be required. In addition, if the wound is very large, your veterinarian may insert a drain so that large amounts of fluid don't accumulate in your pet's tissues.

At home, it's wise to keep an eye on the wound for redness/swelling for a few days as this could be a sign of infection.

Learn More

Please visit our Emergency Care section for more information about how to care for your pet in other urgent situations. You can also read more articles on general care tips by visiting our pet health section.