by Mary Oquendo CMPTI, originally published in eGroomer Journal Winter 2012
Sometimes it seems like we are grooming a creature that resembles a washing machine during the spin cycle. I have been grooming for 14 years and in that time I have had a couple of “oops.” Though the first word out of my mouth was not oops. I’ll leave my choice of words up to your imagination. Being prepared to address wounds promptly will reduce recovery time, speed healing, and reduce complications. Injured pets are likely to be in pain. A pet in pain will bite. Keep a muzzle handy and ready to use. Three common areas for injuries include the ears, eyes, and pads. Let’s start with the ears.
Rinse the wound. I have both sterile eyewash and a Chlorohexidine rinse in my first aid kit to rinse injuries. I do not use a blood–clotting agent, as it is not sterile. Nor do I use surgical glue. Used improperly, it has the potential to trap bacteria in the wound. In addition, do not use alcohol, it stings and causes damage to sensitive tissue. Also, no hydrogen peroxide. It degrades surrounding tissue.
- Place a piece of sterile gauze over the wound and apply pressure. Direct pressure may stop the bleeding. You can apply antibiotic cream on the gauze.
- Position the ear along side of the head. With a roll of gauze, wrap the ear to the head. It should be rolled as the roll rests on the head, always keeping contact with the head. That way it will not be too tight or too loose.
- Secure the ear with vet wrap or a Happy Hoodie™. You want to restrict movement of the ear. If the pet shakes its head with unrestrained ears, any clotting will be undone.
Next are the dreaded eye injuries. Injured eyes have a short shelf life for full recovery. It is a better utilization of your time to get to your vet ASAP. The two things you can do are flush the eyes with sterile eyewash and put an e-collar on the pet to prevent further injury.
Finally, there are the pad injuries. If the injury to the pad is due to an ingrown nail, use caution if you decide to remove it. It may bleed profusely and will be very painful. This pet may bite. More likely, an injury will be due to a sliced pad.
- Flush the injury with either sterile eyewash or wound rinse. Both of which should be in your first aid kit.
- Apply sterile gauze to the wound and apply direct pressure. You can apply antibiotic cream to the gauze.
- Wrap the foot with rolled gauze. As with the ear injury, roll the gauze as it rests on the foot, always keep the roll in contact with the foot.
- Wrap cotton roll over the gauze. This also will cushion the sore pad.
- Use vet wrap to secure the gauze in place and keep it dry.
- Keep the weight off of the injured paw and transport to the vet.
Inform the owners of any injuries, no matter how minor they seem to you. I have never lost a client due to an injury. You will lose that client if they find out later their pet was injured. Call the veterinarian before you transport to give them time to prepare for you and bring the pet’s file that includes a signed veterinarian release. Without a signed release, the vet may not be able to treat.
You can’t always prevent an accident, but you can always be prepared for those days when, like a washing machine, things spin out of control. ▲