The Healing Stages of a Dog Wound

healing stages of dog wound

When your dog gets into a bit of trouble and winds up injured, it can turn your world upside-down. From rushing to the vet to wondering if your dog’s wound is healing properly, your dog’s injury can turn into quite a preoccupation. Understanding the healing stages of a dog wound ensures the best recovery for your pooch.

While your vet got your dog stitched up, bandaged, and headed down the path to healing, you will want to keep an eye on the wound over the next few weeks. Once you leave your vet’s office, it becomes your job to monitor and treat your dog’s wound. Don’t worry. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Providing proper wound care to help your dog’s wound heal fast is as easy as observation and anti-microbial liquid.

Identifying the healing stages of your dog’s wound can give you peace of mind. It can also prevent unnecessary infection, pain, and re-treatment, resulting in more vet bills. As your dog recovers, be sure you watch for all five healing stages and watch for warning signs of infection.

We will give you the insight you need to better understand the progress of your dog’s wound recovery by diving into the healing stages of a dog wound:

  1. Hemostasis
  2. Inflammation
  3. Debridement
  4. Repair
  5. Maturation

Along with any tips to keep that wound clean, healing, and healthy. 

Healing Stage 1: Hemostasis

Long before your dog’s wound turns into healthy flesh, again, the healing process begins. This stage is often overlooked but holds great importance since it reduces blood loss and creates a barrier to infection. This first stage occurs in three sequential actions:

  1. Hemostasis begins with a contraction of blood vessels around the wound.
  2. Then the body causes blood at the surface of the wound to clot to seal the wound. 
  3. Finally, platelets gather together to further bind the wound.

Once your dog’s body plugs the wound and the immune system kicks in, it can begin the repairing process.

What Warning Signs to Look for at This Healing Stage of a Dog Wound:

If your dog’s wound continues to bleed, their precious life may be at risk. A clean cloth compress or gauze should be placed over the wound. Then apply gentle pressure. Add another layer if blood begins to show through.

Healing Stage 2: Inflammation

At this point, your dog will probably feel quite frightened. Staying vigilant and confident can help ease their anxiety. Paying attention to the scabbing process will reassure you that everything is alright. 

After the wound has formed an initial barrier, the next stage of healing begins. During this next part of the process, your dog’s body will send a white blood cell mixture to the area. This mixture is a combination of water, salt, and protein and causes swelling around the wound.

This fluid pushes pathogens, damaged cells, and bacteria out of the wound, flushing it from the inside out. It also preps the cells for repair. (If you’ve ever received a cut and saw what looked like water oozes out, this is what was happening). The white blood cell mixture is the body’s recipe for wound healing, which comes with some symptoms. 

Then, the body will enlarge blood vessels so more healing agents can reach the wound.

During this phase, your dog’s wound will likely:

  • Puff up
  • Turn red
  • Heat up
  • Produce the pain sensation

This stage of wound healing is like a roller coaster. The wound will swell rapidly over the course of a few days, then begin returning to normal over the next three to four days. For most wounds, the inflammation stage lasts about a week.

What Warning Signs to Look for at This Healing Stage of a Dog Wound:

The inflammation often progresses over one to three days. If swelling continues to worsen into the third day, contact your vet. You will also want to watch for any of these potential signs of danger:

  • Red Streaks Radiating from Wound: These streaks could be a sign of lymphangitis infection [3].
  • Hot to the Touch or High Fever: It’s normal for wounds to warm up, but they should not be blazing hot. When treating your dog’s wound, place your index and middle finger, knuckles down, beside the wound and on your dog’s belly. If the wound area feels much warmer than the belly, it could be infected. 
  • Green or Cloudy Fluids: Your dog’s body will continue to send clear and yellowish fluids and eventually blood to the wound, but healthy fluid doesn’t look greenish or smell foul. Green discharge signals infection.
  • Continued, Excessive Bleeding: Some bleeding is normal, but the bleeding should not be continual or heavy.

Stage 3: Proliferation and Repair

After your dog’s body has cleaned out pathogens and prepped the area for repair, it begins to mend the wound. This is called “the proliferation phase.” 

During this stage, the body tells cells to create new tissue using collagen and a unique cell matrix [4]. This is the scaffolding for new tissue to grow. Once this scaffolding is created, the body goes through a fascinating process of filling in the wound, pulling in the edges, and covering the wound with more and more cells.

How to Recognize the Proliferation and Repair Stage of Dog Wound Healing

Your dog’s new tissue and the fresh layer of skin will likely be bright reddish pink. It also appears quite shiny. Look for new flesh around the rim of the wound, you may notice rings of thicker skin forming. 

What Warning Signs to Look for at This Healing Stage of a Dog Wound:

The wound is less vulnerable at this stage of healing, but you should still watch out for infection or tears or reinjury to the wound.

Watch carefully for excessive bleeding or new fractures of fresh skin.

Be vigilant when it comes to signs of infection, including yellow or green pus and red streaking from the wound.

Stage 4: Strengthening and Scarring

As the newly formed tissue acquires more and more cells, it will begin to strengthen. During this phase, the wound will become fully covered in new tissue and form a scar. The new, tight skin, will eventually loosen to be more like the surrounding, undamaged flesh. The reddened coloration will also fade.

This healing phase will take about three months and continue for several years. After three months, the scar may still have some sensitivity and be slightly weaker than undamaged skin but is not nearly as vulnerable as it was in the first three healing stages of a dog wound.

What Warning Signs to Look for at This Healing Stage of a Dog Wound:

Scar tissue can be itchy for dogs. Be sure your dog doesn’t scratch the area too much. Keeping the new skin moist can help reduce dryness that causes the itchy sensation.

Depending on the area of the wound, scar tissue may affect your dog’s mobility or range of motion. It can also cause some discomfort for dogs. If you notice your dog limping or favoring a limb, you will want to see your vet.

How to Encourage Your Dog’s Wound to Heal Fast

During the inflammation and proliferation stages, you can encourage faster healing by keeping the wound covered, create a proactive antimicrobial barrier to prevent infection, and keep the wound moist.

Do not wrap your dog’s wound too tightly. This can restrict blood flow to the area and impede the healing process. 

Wounds take time to heal. If pressure, a new injury, or trauma occurs to the area, the wound will reopen and the healing process delayed. Try to avoid any activities that may result in your dog reinjuring the area. 

Encouraging hydration and keeping the wound clean and treated with antibacterial liquid are key to fast dog wound healing.

What Factors Affect the Rate of the Healing Stages of a Dog Wound?

Not all dogs will heal at the same rate. The size and location of the wound make a difference. Areas of the body that do not receive as much blood flow usually take longer to heal. 

What are some factors that slow dog wound healing?

  • Older dogs tend to heal more slowly. 
  • Dogs with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. 
  • Obese dogs tend to have more restricted blood flow to the skin, which can slow healing.

Trauma and Injuries Happen. Help Your Dog Heal Quickly.

Understanding the healing stages of a dog wound can help dog owners better care for their dogs’ injuries. Should your dog receive a cut, scrape, or puncture wound, be sure you encourage fast healing by protecting the wound and aiding the body in cell repair with the technology of anti-microbial liquid