Caring for Animal Wounds at Home

R.J. Holliday, DVM provides some important information for the home care of animal wounds.


| May/June 1971



009-046-01

It is vital to understand proper wound care methods when treating your injured animals at home.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

 Whether you live in a city apartment or a wilderness cabin, if you own pets or livestock someday you will probably have to care for an injured animal. And, strangely enough, a pampered Persian cat, a backwoods pack horse or a suburban family cow all heal in basically the same fashion and all respond to similar treatment.

Most people when suddenly confronted by a wounded animal feel that they MUST DO SOMETHING! More often than not what they do is wrong because, in their haste, they forget that Nature has been healing creatures for eons with rather good results. Sometimes, a little benign neglect on the part of the owner (and many veterinarians) will do much to aid the ultimate well-being of an injured animal. The most sacred precept of Medical Practice is: If you cannot help your patient; at least, DO HIM NO HARM! So keep this in mind; Nature heals, we can only help.

If one of your animals is injured, the first thing to do is to control any severe hemorrhage. A stream of blood that pulsates in rhythm with the heart-beat indicates a severed artery. No such rhythmic pulsations are seen if only a vein is damaged. In either case, if bleeding is profuse, apply a tight compress of some sort to the area. The pressure applied to the wound helps to stem the flow of blood and favors the formation of a firm clot.  If the wound is in a position where it can be easily bandaged, a bandage can be combined with the compress. However, don't make it so tight that it cuts off circulation. Tourniquets should not be used except as a last resort, as they frequently do more harm than good.

Another warning! Just because Good Old Uncle Ned used to do it, don't subject the wound to flour, ashes or other "gunk" that is reputed to stop bleeding. Most of these substances have no effect on hemorrhage and they can be a major source of contamination and irritation. The question that logically arises then is: "Well, what should I put on a wound?" It would be more appropriate to ask, "Should I put anything on it at all?" More people do more harm to their animals by "putting something on it" than you can imagine; and you wouldn't believe the variety of substances that have been used in a vain attempt to speed healing.

Irritating, caustic materials such as turpentine, coal oil, or salt are never indicated for use on wounds, even if they would kill germs . . . which they won't. It is better to have a mildly infected wound than one in which the ability to heal itself has been destroyed by the use of strong chemicals. Powders should be avoided because they tend to combine with fluids from the wound and may form a crust, thus sealing in the offending bacteria and providing an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Actually, the only reason to use any topical antiseptics on a wound is to remove the dirt or debris that may be present and to reduce the numbers of contaminating bacteria. Mild soap and water will serve effectively in both capacities, and will not further damage the injured tissues and thus impede the normal healing process. An oily substance helps to keep the wound soft, and avoids the drying and cracking of the wound edges that would also interfere with healing.





dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE