You should not put a bandaid on your dog. Not only do bandaids not adhere well to dogs, but placing one on their wound increases the risk of infection. Dogs will try to lick or chew the bandaid to get it off, which will force bacteria under the bandaid. This creates an environment for bacteria to flourish.
Humans have a wide variety of wound treatment options right at our fingertips. We all grew up hearing the popular jingle about bandaids sticking to us, and for the most part, they were right! Bandaids are a staple in most households, but can you use them on your canine companion?
The short answer is no. Even though dogs are mammals–just like us–their needs and behaviors are different.
You’re very unlikely to chew your bandage off, but your dog is likely to do just that. To avoid the potential complications that come with using a bandaid on your dog, keep reading.
You’ll learn why you shouldn’t use a bandaid and the best alternatives to bandaids for your canine companion.
The 3 Big Reasons You Shouldn’t Put a Bandaid on Your Dog
1) They Don’t Stick Well
Bandaids usually won’t stick to your dog very well. Dogs’ body shapes and hair make it difficult for a bandaid to adhere correctly.
You’ll end up with a poorly covered wound and bandage glue in your dog’s fur. Even if you shave the area around the wound, the contours of your dog’s body will make it very unlikely that a bandaid will stay stuck on your pooch for long.
2) Risk of Infection Increases
The risk of infection could increase by using a bandaid. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. Your dog is going to lick or chew on the bandaid. This behavior will cause the bandaid to come unstuck in some places (if it isn’t already) and force bacteria under the bandage.
The bandaid will create an environment where the newly introduced bacteria can flourish, potentially exacerbating the original problem.
3) Accidental Consumption
Your dog might accidentally ingest the bandaid. Because your dog will almost certainly try to lick or chew on the bandaid, this is a big concern. Consuming a bandaid could cause an intestinal blockage, which will lead to an expensive trip to the vet and jeopardize your dog’s health.
Alternatives to Bandaids For Your Dog
First off, a note of caution: if your dog has a puncture wound, especially from an animal bite, it is best to seek professional help before trying home remedies.
But if your pup just has a run-of-the-mill flesh wound or you’re caring for him post-op, you have a lot of at-home options.
Dog Specific Adhesive Bandages
There are a lot of alternatives to bandaids for treating your dog’s wounds. Adhesive bandages made specifically for dogs are a viable option.
These bandages work essentially the same way as bandaids for humans work by adhering to the skin around the edges and placing a sterile patch of gauze over the wound.
Dog-specific adhesive bandages usually have an additive on the exterior of the bandage that makes them taste bad to dogs. This means your pup won’t lick or chew on the bandage, so he is unlikely to ingest it.
The biggest downside to adhesive bandages is that you’ll need to apply the bandage to somewhere completely free of hair to ensure it sticks and doesn’t get contaminated on the inside.
If shaving your dog doesn’t seem like the best option for you, you’re in luck! I’ve compiled the best practices for treating area-specific injuries below.
Alternatives For Paw Injuries
A bandaid simply won’t stick to a paw. Instead, follow these steps to treat your dog’s paw pad injury:
- Clean the wound with warm water and dry it thoroughly;
- Inspect the wound for any lodged-in debris and remove it if necessary;
- Clean the wound with a dog-friendly antiseptic;
- Apply a dog-friendly antibiotic spray or ointment;
- Cover the wound with a sterile gauze pad;
- Wrap the paw with vet wrap or a similar bandage;
- Change the dressing daily until the wound is healed.
If your pup chews at the dressing you’ve applied, lightly apply a bitter-tasting spray to the dressing. This will keep him from licking and chewing on it, reducing the risk of reopening the wound and causing infection.
For paw pad wounds that bleed profusely or don’t seem to heal, seek help from your vet.
Alternatives For Torso Injuries
If your dog has an injury to his torso, you have three primary options.
- You can follow the exact same steps as dressing a paw.
- You can follow all the paw cleaning steps and then seal it with a liquid bandage.
- You can use a dog-friendly adhesive bandage (especially if it’s somewhere your dog can’t reach).
If you opt for the first option, be sure to not wrap the wound too tightly. You want to be sure you don’t cause discomfort or difficulty breathing.
Alternatives for Limb Injuries
You have the most options when it comes to treating limb injuries on a dog, including one of my favorites. All the options for treating limb injuries are on the table, as long as you keep in mind that adhesive bandages should be used sparingly if your dog can reach it with his mouth.
My favorite option for covering this type of injury is completely limb-specific. Have you ever seen the compression sleeves athletes wear on their arms or legs to help heal or prevent injuries?
Well, the concept here is essentially the same. Arm and leg sleeves for dogs are an excellent option for a final layer of wound covering.
To use a sleeve, follow all the same steps you would use to dress a paw and then slip on the sleeve. Unlike the compression sleeves made for people, you’ll want to make sure the one for your pet has a stirrup design with a loop at the top. This loop will ensure the sleeve stays in place and doesn’t slide down your dog’s limb.
Alternatives for Facial Injuries
Facial wounds are the hardest to cover. Your go-to options here will either be liquid bandages or simply keeping the wound as clean as possible.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure your dog keeps his paws off the wound so he doesn’t introduce infection-causing bacteria.
What About Human Antiseptics?
Once again, the short answer here is usually no. We all know Neosporin is a miracle worker for people, but it could make your dog sick.
Your dog is likely to lick at his wound, and ingesting the petroleum in many human antiseptic products can cause your dog to be very sick.
There are readily available products that you can add to your medicine cabinet to make sure you’re prepared for your pet’s injury.
Povidone-iodine and betadine can be used to clean the wound instead of alcohol or peroxide and can be found at any health store and most grocery stores. Pet-safe antiseptic sprays are available at all pet stores and should definitely be added to your arsenal.
The Best Alternatives to Bandaids
By now, you’ve probably noticed a theme. The best alternative to bandaids for minor lacerations on your dog is a liquid bandage.
This low-maintenance solution allows lots of flexibility, and your pup isn’t likely to chew it off or be irritated by it, helping his healing process. If the injury is more significant, consider one of the other dressing options provided.
Always remember that just because something works for people, it’s not necessarily the right option for your dog. You should always avoid using substances that could cause a blockage or be toxic to your dog if they are ingested.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.