Canine Post-Op Wounds: Taking Care of JD’s Wounds

Some wounds require skin grafts.

It is always the goal to make surgery minimally invasive. But when removing a cancerous growth, clean margins might take preference.

Canine Post-Op Wounds: Taking Care of JD's Wounds

Boys make horrible patients

Is it a guy thing to be horrible about being sick or about their wounds? It’s certainly a guy thing with men and as far as I can tell boy dogs are no better.

Jasmine had a number of major surgeries and taking care of her incisions was a walk in the park. Not that she never tried licking them but watching her and reasoning with her was good enough. With my working at home and being a light sleeper, she never needed the cone of shame. When she started licking, I’d come up to her and she’d leave it alone. She seemed to understand when I explained why she needed to leave it alone.

Even when Cookie had the porcupine quill in her footsie, she could be convinced to leave it alone and when she cut her paw pad on a glass she was amazingly good about that. We only bandaged it when she was going outside and could take the bandage off when she was at home.

Do girl dogs know better?

The girls always understood when we were trying to take care of them.

JD is an obsessive licker on a good day. He doesn’t have any allergies or any other good reason for it anybody could be able to determine. Normally, that isn’t a big deal, other than having everything drenched by his saliva. I wish he took up stamp collecting instead. Or something.

Once he hurt his foot a little bit on a picky weed and next thing we knew he chewed a hole in his pad. When he hurt his leg and had a bit of an infection, he would lick it until he’d cry in pain and yet wouldn’t stop. That’s JD.

Now he has a long incision on his chest where the skin for his graft was harvested and the wound after the mast cell tumor removal.

Taking Care of JD's Wounds

Multiple incisions

Of course, he was furnished by a stylish soft cone. And, of course, because the wound is way down on his leg, he can still reach it. In fact, he somehow manages to insert the foot right into the cone. So a cone of shame was a total bust. We still put it on him for the night to protect at least the chest but otherwise is useless.

None of the topicals to stop licking worked either.

During the day, to protect the chest incision, he wears a t-shirt. On the foot, we put a sock. Even with the cone on, the sock becomes drenched, no matter how we watch him. All you need to do is blink. Short of putting an astronaut helmet on him, I don’t think there is anything that would work. We tried a few other things but it’s just a nuisance for him and doesn’t stop him from doing what he’s gonna do anyway.

Miraculously, in spite of his best efforts, his wounds are healing.

Our strategies

For his chest incision, we revived Jasmine’s vet’s idea of using Preparation H. He recommended that for one of Jasmine’s incisions that didn’t want to heal as fast as it should after her knee surgery. He said that it works wonders and does a much better job at that than its original intent.

So that’s what we put on that one. The problem is that quite a chunk of skin was removed and the remaining skin was pulled to close. There has been quite a bit of tension in that area trying to pull things apart. JD’s stitches had to say in for longer than typical 10 days for that reason.

Right now, though, most of the incision looks healed and there is only one small spot still feeling the tension. Overall it looks like he might be able to get the stitches out on Monday.

Canine Post-Op Wounds: Taking Care of JD's Wounds
This is what the graft looked like originally.
Not much left of it now.

The graft is not likely to make it

However, at least it functioned as a “living bandage,” covering the wound for the time being. Because of all the puckering in the particular area, most of the stitches came apart and the remnant of the graft is just sitting in the middle as a pirate patch.

The vet saw it regularly and feels it’s doing as well as it’s going to.

The good news is that it’s filling in with new tissue and there isn’t much of a hole there at all now.

The tissue is still raw at spots but that’s not a surprise given the challenges it faces all the time. It hasn’t gotten infected, which is a miracle, and there was never any dying tissue stink to it either. It’s nasty but healthy.

Manuka honey

Manuka honey is saving JD’s ass.

A examine and sniff the wound three times a day. A couple of days after the surgery I detected a slight, suspicious whiff of something. I contacted the vet, told her about it and asked whether it would make sense to use honey to help it heal and protect it from infection.

We cut the socks so it wouldn’t go over JD’s foot.
Both JD and Cookie don’t do well having something foreign on the foot.
We use vet wrap to help hold the sock in place,
this is applied well above the actual wound.

She agreed so that’s what we’ve been doing. We put some of the honey, one layer of light gauze and the sock over it. We do this three times a day. Just once we forgot to change it mid-day–it was the day we got JD’s pathology results and got distracted and forgot all about that. When I was changing the bandage and checking it before bedtime, it already started to have a light stink of old socks – starting infection!

By morning it was all fine and dandy again. But we do have to do this religiously three times a day, particularly given how wet the sock gets in the meantime.

Airing it out

Once daily we take everything off and leave it open to the air. Which means somebody has to sit there with him to keep him from licking the entire time. We do that with an after-dinner movie.

To top it all off, JD does not like to cooperate.

He does what he can to avoid his wound care and it takes both of us to tend to it. Hubby has to keep him in place, otherwise, I’d be chasing him with the bandages all over the place. Girls are so much easier! Always understood when one was taking care of them.

Getting there

It’s no fun for anybody but it’s getting there.

Side note: hubby just said that I owe thanks to JD because he makes the girls look so good! Ha, good point I guess.

Hopefully, JD can get the stitches on his chest out on Monday. No much of the stitches left on the leg, maybe three or four, the rest just came apart on its own. The wound is getting there too even though slowly. I wasn’t used to tending to such gnarly-looking wounds but over time I figured out when it looks good, read looking as good as it can. It’s probably going to take another week or two before that one is in good enough shape to be left alone.

JD has been under house arrest but I think next week we’ll start taking him at least for one of the walks a day. On leash, and with some seriously heavy bandage to protect it but I think he should be ok to get out of the house. Cookie misses her play buddy. She’s also concerned about him and tries to lick his wounds for him. We are telling her that he really doesn’t need any help with that. SHE listens.

Did you ever have a hard time getting your dog’s wound to heal?

Related articles:
Canine Wound Care 101: Classification, treatment, and physical therapy

Further reading:
Care of Surgical Incisions in Dogs

Categories: CancerConditionsDog careMast cell tumors (MTC)Skin graftSurgery recoveryWound care

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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