10 Tips on How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Stitches

by | Apr 13, 2023 | TPLO Recovery

Given their quirky natures and avid curiosity, dogs are prone to injuries. They may hurt themselves while playing fetch, jumping, and running with other canines. Dogs tend to lick their wounds instinctively and saliva can worsen the infection and delay its healing. 

Read on to learn how to speed up your pup’s healing through proper medication, confinement, and cleaning its stitches.

How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Stitches After Surgery

Taking good care of your dog doesn’t end at getting them the surgery they need. The most crucial phase is its post-op recovery, so it’s important to watch your pup during this period. Make sure your home is conducive to resting for your injured canine. 

10 Tips on How to Clean Stitches on A Dog:

  • Change its bandages frequently to keep any draining fluid from saturating them.
  • Clean any wounds or stitches with chlorhexidine or another appropriate cleanser to maintain drainage.
  • Remove the surgical drains, preferably within 2 to 4 days. You can also eliminate them once you notice a drastic decrease in the draining fluid.
  • Change the wound dressings according to your vet’s instructions.
  • Check your dog’s incisions twice a day or as prescribed. Note if there are any significant changes in skin appearance around the dog’s stitches.
  • Take note of any swelling, redness, unusual odor, discharge, or irritation.
  • Don’t apply any cream, disinfectant, or alcohol near the incision site unless your vet instructs you to.
  • Use a clean sheet or towel to cover the incision site to keep dirt from contaminating the wound.
  • Keep your dog’s bandages clean and dry. You can cover the stitched area carefully with a clean wrap when your pup needs to be outside and remove the wrap when it comes back inside.
  • Put on protective garments to prevent your dog from ripping its stitches and licking its wounds.

How to Prevent Further Complications

Here are other measures you can take to ensure that your pup completely recovers post-surgery and how to take care of your dog’s stitches. You can consult with your trusted veterinarian for further instructions.

Give Appropriate Medication

Your pup will be sent home with antibiotics or painkillers. Make sure to give your dog only the prescribed medication and stick to its administering schedule for the proper dosage as instructed by your vet. Your dog may also be prescribed vitamins and supplements to aid in its recovery.

Restrict Your Dog’s Activity

As your dog’s best friend, it’s your responsibility to supervise and ensure it won’t do anything that may strain or damage the wound site. Your vet might have taken necessary actions for pain management, but that doesn’t mean your dog can jump, run, or do other strenuous exercises.

Keep Your Dog Confined in a Small Space

It’s advisable to put your injured pet in a confined room with access to food, water, and clean bedding. Keep it away from children and other dogs or pets that may trigger it to be active. Do not allow your recovering pup to play roughly with other dogs. Any strenuous activity may cause its stitches to break apart and the wound to bleed. 

Prevent the Incision From Getting Wet

Unless instructed by your vet, never clean your dog’s incision site with water or ointment. Don’t use alcohol since it may delay the healing of your pup’s wounds or irritate the incision site. If your dog has an open wound, you may use warm tap water and pat it dry with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.

Keep Your Dog From Licking Its Wounds

If you’re wondering how to keep a dog from licking stitches, you simply have to cover the affected area with protective garments. This will allow you to avoid excessive wound licking, scratching, and biting. Lick sleeves are a better alternative to e-collars since they’re easier to put on and more comfortable to wear.

Avoid Long Walks

Ideally, it would be best if you confined your dog indoors to protect its incision site. After 7 to 14 days, you can take your dog outdoors but make sure to keep it on a leash. However, if your dog has undergone major surgery, you’ll need to keep it at home for a longer period.

How Long Do Dog Stitches Take to Heal?

Normally, it takes 10 to 14 days before a new incision fully heals. However, it will still depend on the suture material and how the surgery was performed. Below are signs that your dog’s incision has started to heal:

  • The affected area is clean and dry
  • Wounds do not overlap
  • Light redness or bruises around the stitches
  • Blood secretes from the wound within the first 24 hours
  • A small amount of discharge with no foul odor

Not all wounds heal after surgery, so you mustn’t be too complacent. Watch out for signs that your dog might not be doing well. Here are possible warning signs to watch out for during your pup’s post-op recovery phase:

  • Swelling and intense skin redness
  • Foul odor with pus or blood
  • Pain and tenderness 
  • Pronounced warmth around the incision
  • Enlarged lymph nodes 
  • Fever and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite and boredom

Help Your Dog’s Stitches Heal Faster

Cleaning your dog’s stitches is crucial to its full recovery. Visit the TPLOinfo blog today for more helpful resources on canine health.

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