101 Dog Care Tips – Tip #151 – Preparing for Dog Safety Pt 2 of 4 – Treating Dog Burns

Last week we started a dog safety series, which started with creating a first aid kit for your dog.  We also covered what to do to be prepared for any household or natural disasters. Best Bully Sticks knows that you can never be too prepared when it comes to you or your dog’s safety. That’s why this week we continue our safety series with treating burns that your dog might receive and how to treat them.

Burns & How to Treat Them
There are three different types of burns: thermal, electrical and chemical. Because of a domesticated dog’s typical environment, household accidents are the most common cause of burns. For instance, if your dog is curious, electrical cords could become chew toys. Household cleaners could cause chemical burns and irritate your dogs skin or eyes.  Let’s go over the different types of burns and what to do if they occur.

Different Burn Types & Stages of Burns
Thermal burns are heat-related burns and include open flames, hot air dryers, heat lamps, boiling liquids, semi-hot liquids or even sunburn. A chemical burn is any burn that comes from a chemical and there are two different types; acids and alkali’s.  Electrical burns occur after a dog has come in contact with electricity, like as stated before, chewing on electrical cords.

Just as in humans, these burns can reach different stages of severity and are categorized as 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns.  A 1st degree burn is called a superficial partial thickness wound and only involves the top layer of skin.  Minor pain and redness are the symptoms but they usually heal quickly. Sunburn is a classic example of a first degree burn.  A second degree burn is called a deep partial thickness wound and involves the deeper layers of skin. These burns produce blisters on the skins surface.  Second degree burns are more painful, take longer to heal and introduce a risk of infection.  These burns require veterinary attention.Third degree burns involve complete destruction of all skin layers. Charring is easily seen and no sensation is left in the area of the burn. With third degree burns, a dog is highly prone to infection. This kind of burn is very serious and life-threatening and require immediate and extensive veterinary care.

What Burns Look Like & How To Treat Them
Thermal Burns
The most common thermal burn is sunburn and usually happen when a pet’s coat is trimmed too short and leaves skin exposed.  Prevention is better than treatment, so if there is any non-pigmented (white) skin showing on your dog when they are outside for long periods of time, apply sunscreen that contain PABA and avoid those using zinc. Try to prevent your pet from licking off the sunscreen.

Other thermal burns will usually be contact burns and are usually 2nd or 3rd degree burns. The treatment for these contact thermal burns are as follows:

  • Extinguish all flames. If electricity is involved, make sure the power is turned off.
  • Avoid being bitten. You may have to muzzle your pet.
  • Apply cool water compresses with a clean (sterile) cloth. This may prevent the burn from penetrating deeper into the tissues. Change the compress frequently, and keep the site cool and wet. If the burn involves only one part of the body, you can submerge the area in cool water.
  • Do not break any blisters that may have formed.
  • Do not apply any ointments or butter-like substances.
  • Do not apply ice to the burn.
  • Carefully transport the animal to your veterinarian!

Chemical Burns
Burns caused by chemicals may be hard to see because your dog’s coat may hide the burn.  A strange odor usually a sign that a chemical burn has occurred and again are usually 2nd or 3rd degree burns.

  • Avoid being bitten. You may have to muzzle your pet.
  • Make sure the area is well ventilated.
  • If the burn is from a dry chemical, brush away as much of the substance as possible. Be sure to protect the mouth, nose and eyes of you and the pet.
  • If you KNOW the chemical was an acid, wash away with a solution of baking soda dissolved in water.
  • If you KNOW the chemical was alkalis, wash away with a solution of vinegar and water.
  • If you don’t know, wash the contaminated area with large amounts of warm (not Hot!) flowing water. Protect yourself with appropriate safety equipment.
  • If the chemical has gotten into the pet’s eyes, flush with clean water or sterile saline for 15-20 minutes.
  • Do not apply any ointments or butter-like substances.
  • Do not apply ice to the burn.
  • Carefully transport the animal to your veterinarian! If possible, bring the chemical’s container with you.

Smoke inhalation is another type of chemical substance that can be toxic to dogs.  If your pet is around fire, or fumes from burring materials such as plastics, rubber or other synthetic materials it can be very harmful to your pets respiratory system. Carbon monoxide is another dangerous chemical you dog could inhale. If your dog encounters any of these, go to the veterinarian immediately.

Electrical Burns
Electrical burns are most often found near the mouth from chewing on electrical cords.  The dog’s mouth will have burns at the corners or on the tip of the tongue. However, the burns aren’t usually as serious as the shock they receive from the electricity.  Serious shocks can cause a dog to go into cardiac arrest.  If a dog doesn’t go to the vet immediately, brain damage or death can occur. Do not attempt to treat the dog at home in any way. Take your dog to the vet immediately.

As always, prevention is key. Keep your chemicals and electrical cords out of the way of your pets. Also, be conscious of what to do if any of these should happen. In most of these situations, home remedies aren’t recommended.  Go to the vet as soon as possible and call ahead and let them know you’re on your way so they can be prepared as well.


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