Whether it’s a routine desexing procedure or a stitch up after an accident, many pets will require some form of wound and suture management at least once in their lifetime. Even wounds without external sutures still need to be given time to heal. It is a shame when healing is delayed due to a pet’s “intervention”. Licking, biting at sutures, chewing off bandages, rubbing tummies along the ground and too much bounce play can all contribute to a delay in wound healing.
There are many ways to help protect wounds and sutures.
- Elizabethan collars (the cone of shame!)
These are plastic lampshade-shaped collars, which slip over the animal’s head and attach to their own collar. They are usually transparent and well tolerated, although there will be a period of adjustment as the animal becomes accustomed to their new width!
Expect backwards walking and doorway crashing initially. Make sure your pet can access their food and water, by elevating their bowls, whilst wearing the collar. In an emergency, a bucket or a flower pot with the bottom cut out can make a temporary Elizabethan collar.
- Pain relief
Pets often lick or worry about wounds because they are uncomfortable. Your vet may prescribe pain relief for your pet post operatively to help stop pain related wound trauma.
- Bitter chemicals
There are a number of safe but nasty tasting chemicals available. Which can be smeared around wounds or on bandages to deter licking and chewing. Unfortunately, many determined pets will soldier on regardless of the unpleasant flavours, so they may only offer short term protection.
- Mechanical barriers
Socks and bandages can be used to cover and protect wounds. These need to be used carefully as they can potentially rub and irritate wounds.
Take your pet’s mind off its wounds by providing environmental distraction with treats and food filled toys. Unfortunately, animals usually need to be rested after surgery and their sutures need to stay clean and dry, so long runs along the beach or park play with friends cannot be used to provide distraction.
For the hard-core wound warrior, there is always chemical restraint. Sedatives and anti anxiety drugs can be used in the short term to calm the extremely exuberant or determined patient post operatively, so they can rest and allow their wound to heal.
Always contact your vet if you are concerned about your pet’s wounds or sutures.