On the Mend, Plus, Hot Compresses

I would like to thank everyone who contacted us after the last post, from the bottom of my heart. Your words meant the world to Miles and I, and lifted my spirits a great deal in the nerve-wracking recovery period. Your well wishing helped keep me strong and in a good frame of mind around Miles as he healed, which was really important for him. It meant a lot to us. I will be writing each and every one of you soon.
For the two weeks after “the incident” took place (see below), the stress of what happened took a lot out of me and Miles. Having such an awful thing happen, being away from home for a full week following it… It was all a lot to handle. In addition to all of that, technically, the daily care sessions were long, involved, and tedious. Therefore, I was relieved when this Tuesday rolled around, because it marked the two week point since the incident — and also the point at which I was able to finally cease our intensive aftercare routine.
I thought anyone interested might want to see how I cared for Miles’ wounds at home, so I documented the process. The following is NOT meant to replace the care and/or instruction of a veterinarian. It is merely a documentation of our personal experience, for this particular situation, under the guidance of our veterinarian.
On the Mend, Plus, Hot Compresses
{  our post-veterinary home care hot compress sessions  }
Caring for Miles’ deep gashes from dog attack
  • See a veterinarian immediately. Have the area(s) cleaned professionally, ask your veterinarian exactly how s/he recommends you care for the wound(s).
  • Get necessary medications from your veterinarian, and ask for detailed instructions for said medications. These medications are extremely important!
  • Usually, the vet will prescribe a course of oral antibiotics, and a topical ointment. In Miles’ case, the vet prescribed Hibitane ointment.
  • Typically, in the case of a dog-on-dog attack, the veterinarian will not stitch the areas, because doing so can trap serious bacteria inside of the wounds.
  • Make sure to get detailed instructions on homecare from your veterinarian. Do not be shy with questions!
  • Check in with your veterinarian throughout the recovery if you have any questions.

How I applied hot compresses to Miles’ deep wounds 
(twice daily, for 2 weeks)

In the case of a dog-on-dog attack, the victim’s wounds will often be deep, and can have the potential to contain foreign bacteria. For this reason, often the veterinarian will not stitch the wounds shut, but rather will allow the owner to keep the wounds open and clean during the healing process, so that they may heal from the inside out. Before I detail the steps of this process, I’d like to explain the purpose of the steps. First, you are using hydrogen peroxide to gently open the seal of the wounds. Since the goal is to allow them to heal from the inside out, you need to get past the light seal that develops during the day to apply a hot compress, which allows the wounds to drain and for any bacteria to rise to the surface. After compressing, you then apply the topical ointment prescribed to you by your veterinarian, which will disinfect the wound.
  • Get an old clean towel. Cut a medium sized scrap, and a small scrap off of the towel.
  • Prepare a large dish of hot water (hot but comfortable to the touch — which is why this process is often referred to as a “warm compress”) and a small dish of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Put the small piece of towel in the small dish of hydrogen peroxide. Use this cloth to gently open the seal of the wounds prior to compressing. Ask your vet how often a day to do this step. Sometimes once is best, even if you are compressing more often than once daily. Hydrogen peroxide can be very drying, so please, follow the suggestions of your vet. The purpose of this step is to gently open the seal of the deep wounds.
  • Help your dog into a comfortable position near or on you. Wrap the large original towel around his or her body, leaving his or her face and the wounded area(s) exposed.
  • Soak the medium strip of towel in the hot water, and place it over the wound. When the towel looses heat, re-soak it, and repeat. Do so as often and for as long as your veterinarian recommends.
  • After each session, thoroughly clean the towel strips and dishes. Preferably, dishes in a dishwasher on “hot,” and towel bits in a clothes washing machine on hot, and/or with bleach. If you are not able to clean towels this way — discard old scraps and use new ones each time.
  • Use fresh hot water, clean towels, and clean bowls every single time you compress.
  • After compressing, dry the area(s) well, and apply the topical ointment/cream prescribed by your veterinarian. This ointment will disinfect the wounds.
On the Mend, Plus, Hot Compresses
{  Miles found our care sessions quite soothing  }

{ Click here to see the full feed of posts about the experience and recovery. }

5 comments on On the Mend, Plus, Hot Compresses

  • Gail

    Emma, I was so upset to learn about Miles in your blog post last week. It must have been a horrifying experience to witness what happened and thankfully you and your friend were close by when it happened. Miles is such a happy trusting dog and it is good to hear that this trauma has not effected his attitude toward other dogs. Our thoughts for a speedy recovery go out to him!!!

    We had an experience when we observed an intro agility class this past winter. We were allowed to sit in the back of the class with our Welsh on my husband's lap still on her leash. A large noisy dog in the class walked by on leash with it's owner and without warning lunged at our dog who was quietly sitting on my husband's lap taking everything in. It took the owner and both trainers to restrain the dog but meanwhile my husband grabbed our dog and flew back out of his chair. The dog, teeth showing, narrowly missed the target which was our dog's neck. Suffice it to say, we were all shaking.

  • Darcy

    Dear Emma,
    Genius idea to turn your tedious treatments into a tutorial on compressing. You are the best! Chester and are are still very rattled by your experience. We send you healing thoughts every day. I know you are glad to have the treatments over. The crisis and procedures following are a very hard part of recovery. In some ways, however, I feel there could still be some hard parts yet to come. There will be triggers, and flashbacks and memories and maybe some tears. Grieving is not an immediate process. Trust in love. And trust yourself, mostly. Miles will follow your lead. Chester and I pray for your complete recovery night and day. Doggie kisses and well wishes, Darcy and Chester

  • Emma (author)

    Gail, that sounds so scary! I am glad you were able to keep your dog safe… Wow.

    Darcy, I agree completely. When the shock dissipates, and the "survival mode" lessens, that is when the emotional impact just begins to show itself. It is very unfortunate, since I have worked so hard to socialize Miles well. Time will tell.

  • Darcy

    Dear Emma,
    Miles is too smart to think all dogs would attack him, but he is also too smart to forget about it all entirely. There may be situations when he's a bit nervous, but as time goes by he will remember your good socialization training. In his heart he is a trusting dog. He will fall back on that and trust again. Believe me. Love and doggie hugs, Darcy and Chester

  • Emma (author)

    Darcy, you always have the most balanced, helpful thoughts. I am grateful that you take the time to share them. What you said makes perfect sense, and helps me anticipate what is to come, but also, trust the foundation Miles and I have. Thank you.

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