Veterinary Pet Insurance, the largest provider of pet health insurance in the United States, has made a list of the most common pet wounds, based on claims filed in 2007. Here's VPI's top 10 and how to handle them.
1Lacerations/bite wounds: By far the most common wounds come mostly from cats and dogs mixing it up with other cats and dogs or wild animals. Lacerations also occur when pets are involved in car crashes. If your pet suffers a laceration or bite wound, try to stop any fresh bleeding with cold compresses or a pressure bandage. If the animal will permit it, try to clean or flush the area. Small wounds may benefit from an antibacterial ointment; large wounds should be bandaged and kept clean.
2Torn nail: Some can be trimmed and a light bandage can be applied to stop the bleeding. Others need the nail cut back to healthy tissue to ensure that the nail grows back healthy. Put a bandage on the injury if the animal will allow it and go to your vet. But if there is a lot of blood, a visit to the emergency room is the safest bet.
3Insect bites/stings: The bites can be virtually harmless — you don't even know your pet is bitten — or they can be extremely serious because of an animal's hypersensitivity. An injection of cortisone or an antihistamine within an hour can bring a swelling down. If left untreated, the dog's breathing could become affected.
4Abrasions: Mild abrasions can often be treated at home. Clean the wound and protect the lesion with either topical antibiotics or a covering. Your pet may need a cone collar to keep it from licking the wound.
5Eye trauma: This is always an emergency. When an animal gets poked or scratched in the eye or has an eye infection, it likely will get worse without treatment. The most common injury is a corneal abrasion, which causes the animal to be light sensitive and blink frequently. Medication from a veterinarian is usually all that's needed.
6Punctures: An animal may step on a nail, brush against a tree or get caught while climbing under a fence and could get a splinter or tear his or her skin. Depending on the severity, the animal may need antibiotics. Have a veterinarian assess each injury.
7Foreign objects in skin: Something like a fish hook means a trip to the ER; a splinter depends on how painful it is to the animal.
8Foreign objects in ear: If your pet has something in the ear, he's likely to shake his head and scratch, trying to dislodge the object. If your pet will allow it, examine the ear for signs of redness, swelling or odor. Don't try to remove the object at home unless it is very superficial in the ear.
9Foreign object in foot: If you see your dog limping, examine the foot and try to remove the object. If there's bleeding, apply a pressure wrap of some kind.
10Snake bite: Keep your pet as immobilized as possible to prevent the rapid spread of the venom. And get to a vet.