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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Most wounds heal first time without any complications and leave only a feint scar. However owners can take some simple precautions to prevent complications occurring.

Wound healing is a remarkable process by which the body can heal itself, and repair a defect. Following a surgical procedure soft tissue wounds in veterinary patients usually heal first time without complications, but occasionally problems are seen including :

  • Stitches may undo
  • Stitches may break
  • The wound may become infected
  • The tissue around the wound may fill with fluid, and become hot and painful
  • Wound healing may be delayed
  • The wound may not be strong enough to withstand biomechanical forces put on it 

Wound healing starts as soon as a wound has been created. Within 24 hours wound edges have developed some strength to resist separation. Non-absorbable skin stitches can usually be removed after 7-10 days and the wound is sufficiently strong for a return to normal physical activity by about 3 weeks. For some specific tissues (eg tendons and ligaments) a longer period - eg 6 weeks - may be required before a return to normal activity can be recommended.

For wounds to heal first time the following should be avoided :

  • Movement across the wound site
  • Contamination of the wound with bacteria or other microorganisms
  • Trauma to the wound site - eg licking, rubbing, biting

Normal wound healing requires the presence of adequate concentrations of several nutrients including :

  • Protein
  • Vitamins - eg Vitamin A
  • Minerals eg zinc

On the other hand excessive amounts of some nutrients (eg Vitamin E) can delay wound healing

Owners can take several precautions to avoid problems occurring :

  • Make sure the animal is on a complete and balanced ration
  • Avoid over-supplementation with vitamins
  • Animals should be confined with minimal movement for the first few days following surgery
  • Do not exercise the animal until your veterinarian says to do so
  • Stop the animal from traumatising the wound - this may require the use of an elizabethan collar, or even tranquillizers
  • Don't allow the animal to get the wound dirty - confine it to hard, dry, clean surfaces. Avoid contact with soil, sand, wet or contaminated surfaces - particularly bedding that might be contaminated with urine/faeces.

As a general rule wounds heal better if they are exposed to the air, so do not apply a dressing or bandage to cover the wound unless advised to do so by your veterinarian. 


Updated October 2013