We vets see a lot of wounds (cat bite abscesses, skin cuts, abrasions, etc.) where well-intentioned pet owners have inadvertently slowed healing with the at-home care they’ve tried before bringing their pet in. How have they done this? By using something everyone likely has in their medicine cabinet, and something that many people reach for as a first line of defense when cleaning and treating a wound (even on themselves).
The problem with peroxide for pet wound cleaning
I’m talking, of course, about good ‘ol H2O2… Hydrogen Peroxide. Not to be confused with H2O, which is water and is actually (at least) as effective at and far safer for wound cleaning… suggested below with other options.
What many people don’t realize is that the bubbling you see when you add hydrogen peroxide to a cut isn’t just an indication that the peroxide is killing the bacteria present, it’s also an indication that the peroxide is killing the very cells that the body is counting on to actually heal the wound! These cells are called fibroblasts, and they are truly crucial to proper wound healing.
So next time your pet gets a wound or cut, forget about the hydrogen peroxide (or even the alcohol) and reach instead for a hose or, even better, a bottle of saline wound flush (or even a saline eye/contact lens flush or saline nasal spray) for your first aid.
If you want to make your own first aid kit here's a list of items to include.
Don’t forget, first aid is often just that… first aid
If it's a bite wound, deep puncture, bad cut, or a nasty abcess, your next step should be a visit to the vet. These types of injuries also require second aid (i.e. veterinary care).
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