1. If a wound is bleeding use a clean gauze or towel to apply firm pressure for five to ten minutes. Once bleeding has stopped you may be able to assess the wound further.
  2. If the wound is superficial, you can clean it using sterile saline or povidone iodine.
  3. Check your pet for any other wounds.
  4. Deep or extensive lacerations can be covered with a clean dressing such as gauze as you transport your pet to the veterinarian.
  5. If muscle, bone or organs are exposed seek veterinary attention immediately. Similarly, if bleeding does not stop seek veterinary attention immediately.


A laceration is a cut, usually linear, which results in variable damage to the underlying tissues.


Lacerations are external injuries and can be seen by the naked eye. Lacerations appear as cut wounds of varying severity and depth. Full thickness lacerations through the skin cut through all layers of the skin, often exposing muscle, tendons or bone. They may also be bleeding.


Lacerations are usually the result of trauma from a sharp object such as corrugated iron, barbed wire, clippers, scissors, knives or sticks.


Your vet will conduct a physical examination and assess your pet’s wounds. Superficial lacerations often do not require any stitching up. However, they can potentially still be infected. For minor cases, your vet may recommend wound cleaning with or without sedation and dispense some antibiotics if infection is a concern.

More extensive or severe wounds may require sedation or general anesthesia for wound cleaning and repair. In moderate to severe cases, wound management involves debridement or trimming of non-viable tissues and flushing the wound thoroughly with saline. Deep lacerations may require several layers of sutures to repair.

Infected wounds will not be stitched up as it may worsen the infection and lead to the formation of an abscess. Instead, drains may be placed to allow draining of fluid/discharge. Antibiotics and pain relief will be provided and a clean dressing and bandage will be applied. In very extensive and heavily discharging wounds, bandage changes may be needed one to a few times daily initially.


Garzotto CK (2009) Wound Management. In: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Silverstein DC & Hopper K (eds.). Missouri, USA: Saunders Elsevier.