When dogs sustain injuries, their bodies react in a similar way to ours. They want to heal quickly and efficiently, so they follow a set of four major stages that will eventually result in a full recovery.
However, some things can hinder this process, like excessive licking and chewing. If this is the case, it can reopen the wound and slow healing.
Stage 1: Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to injury. While it is often thought of as a negative factor, inflammation actually serves to stop bleeding and promote healing.
The first stage of healing involves swelling, redness, pain and heat. It also involves the activation of the immune system to fight off any bacteria or noxious compounds that may have invaded the damaged tissues.
This stage usually lasts a few days, but can last longer if your dog’s injury is particularly severe or caused by a traumatic event. It is important to keep a close eye on your pet during this stage, as the wound may still not be completely healed.
Once your dog’s wound has stopped bleeding, it is time to move on to the next stage – debridement. This is a process carried out by your dog’s white blood cells to remove dead tissue and any bacteria that may be present.
Stage 2: Bleeding
When a dog sustains an injury, their body’s first response is inflammation. Inflammation swells the wound, flushes out bacteria and damaged cells, and prepares the cells for repair.
This stage lasts for a week or so. During this time new soft pink flesh should form in the area of the wound.
If there is no new pink soft flesh forming, and you notice the skin or gums around the wound are looking dark or leathery, this is a sign that your dog may have an internal bleeding problem and needs to be rushed to a vet right away.
A dog with internal bleeding can be in shock because their blood volume is depleted, meaning that organs such as the kidneys and GI tract cannot be perfused (nourished) by oxygen-rich blood. This can lead to death in a short amount of time if not treated.
Stage 3: Healing
After a dog sustains a wound, its body naturally responds with inflammation. Swelling, redness, heat, and pain are common signs of this stage.
This first step of healing is critical to the entire process because it controls bleeding and activates the immune system. It also helps prevent infection and prepares cells for repair.
How long this phase takes depends on a number of factors, including age, health and the size and location of the wound. However, it typically takes about four to 24 days for this stage to complete.
During this stage, new tissue will begin to form over the wound. This new tissue should be pink or red and uneven in texture, but it shouldn’t bleed. If the new tissue is darker than it should be, however, that could indicate something’s wrong and you should contact a vet.
Stage 4: Closure
When your dog’s wounds have healed, the skin will form scabs over the wound, sealing it up. This stage of healing is much less alarming than the previous two stages, because your dog’s body has already reconstructed the tissue it lost during inflammation and bleeding.
There are a few ways your dog’s wound may close:
A sutured primary closure is most common in dogs and cats. This type of closure is typically performed if the wound involves a laceration, a wound that has opened up, or a severe traumatic injury, like a dog bite or lacerations with foreign objects.
This process of closing the wound consists of filling the wound with new tissue, creating new blood vessels and constricting the edges of the wound. It can also happen if your dog’s wound is too wide to be closed by simple surgery.
The time it takes for your dog’s wound to close depends on several factors. The most important ones are whether it is an open or closed wound and the amount of trauma it has suffered.