Dog Burn Wounds

Dog Burn Wounds - What Should I Do?

There are three types of burns: thermal, electrical and chemical. Household accidents are the most common cause of burns. An inquisitive dog in the kitchen can be a hazard. Electrical cords can be deadly chew toys. Household chemicals frequently contain chemicals that will burn skin and eyes. The following are first aid measures for each type of burn.

Superficial Thermal Burns:

Apply ice packs or immerse the burned area in cold water. Dry gently. Try to remove hair over the affected area to reduce the opportunity for infection. Do not apply any oil-based products. Cover the area with a non-stick bandage. If the burn becomes infected or does not seem to be healing properly, take your dog to the veterinarian.

Deep Thermal Burns:

Extensive or deep burns require immediate veterinary attention. As first aid, place a clean cloth gently over the affected area. Do not apply water, antiseptics or ointments. Keep the dog warm and monitor for signs of shock. Take the dog to the vet immediately.

Electrical Burns:

Electrical burns occur most frequently when a dog bites through an electrical cord. Although the dog's entire body receives an electrical shock, the actual burns are seen in the corners of the mouth or on the tip of the tongue. The burns are not as serious as the electrical shock -- which can cause cardiac arrest and death. Brain or nerve damage is possible and the dog may not survive without prompt veterinary attention. Do not touch the dog if it is still in contact with the current. Unplug the electrical cord and check the dog's pulse and heartbeat. Do not attempt to treat the dog at home. If breathing and/or the heart has stopped you may need to perform CPR. Take the dog to the vet immediately

Chemical Burns:

There are two types of chemicals that can cause burns: Acids and alkalis. A strange odor can be the first sign that the dog has received a chemical burn.

Wash away acids with an alkaline solution consisting of baking soda dissolved in water.

Wash away alkalis with a solution of vinegar and water.

If the substance causing the chemical burn is unknown, wash the burned area with water. If you know what has caused the burn, check the chemical container to see if there is information for an antidote. Call your veterinarian.



Shock, which is actually the collapse of the circulatory system, occurs when an animal has sustained a traumatic injury -- blood loss, electric shock, poisoning, burns or other serious accident. If not treated promptly, shock may progress to death. Symptoms of shock include the following:

  • Body feels cool to the touch.
  • Pulse is weak and rapid.
  • Breathing is shallow and rapid.
  • Gums are pale or muddy.

Shock requires immediate veterinary attention. To administer first aid, make sure the dog's air passages are clear. Help the dog maintain body heat by covering it with a coat or blanket. If the dog is unconscious, keep the dog's head lower than its body. Massage the legs and body muscles to encourage blood flow. If possible, phone the veterinary hospital to let them know the problem and that you are on your way. Transport the dog with as little movement as possible.

CPR (when heartbeat & breathing stops)

The same CPR technique used for humans can be used to save the life of a dog. CPR will provide heart contractions and breathing until the dog can perform these functions on its own. Heart and respiratory failure can occur after a trauma such as an electric shock, poison ingestion, a car accident or shock caused by a trauma. (If there is massive external or internal bleeding, CPR will not be effective since there is not enough fluid in the blood vessels to carry oxygen.)

CPR should not be performed on a dog that has a heartbeat. Nor should you perform artificial respiration on a dog that is already breathing unless the breaths are very unsteady and shallow. Watch the dog's sides to see if the chest is rising and falling.

Visual signs of no heartbeat include fully dilated pupils and cool, blue colored gums. Get familiar with pulse points on your healthy dog. Knowing how a normal heartbeat feels will help you in the event of an emergency.

If there is no heartbeat and no breathing, CPR must be given to the dog. You will have to manually compress the heart and administer artificial respiration, one immediately after the other. A rhythm must develop between the heart compression and the artificial respiration.

An unconscious dog may become aggressive when it revives. Apply a dog muzzle -- always. You can use a strip of gauze, a strip of sheet, a necktie or even a sock. Wrap the cloth around the snout and tie under the jaw. Pull the ends back on each side of the dog's head and tie behind the head. If the dog starts to vomit, remove the muzzle and reapply when he is finished.

Administer CPR as follows:

  1. Lay the dog on its side. If there is no back or neck injury, pull the head and neck forward.
  2. Open the dog's mouth and pull the tongue forward so it does not block the throat. Clear the mouth of any debris with your fingers and close the dog's mouth. Recheck the pulse.
  3. Hold the dog's mouth and lips closed. Apply the muzzle.
  4. Inhale and put your mouth over the dog's nose, forming an airtight seal. Exhale. Repeat the process 10 - 15 times per minute.
  5. Remove your mouth and apply heart massage between breaths.
  6. Place the heel of one hand over the dog's chest (in line with the back of its elbow). Place the heel of your other hand on top of the other.
  7. Pump firmly and briskly. Hold each push for two counts and release for a count of one. (Use pressure appropriate for the size of the dog.)

Continue the massage until the heartbeat returns. Continue artificial respiration until the dog begins to breathe. If the dog does not respond after 15 minutes of CPR, revival is unlikely.

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