Sometimes, caring for your dog means keeping him safe from his own destructive behavior. Other times, caring for your dog means doing some light damage control when his behavior gets the best of him. Stitches come undone, but fortunately for you, it is nothing to panic over. Here is a quick guide on what to do if your dog’s stitches open unexpectedly.
Make a Visit to Your Vet Immediately
There is no alternative to this solution. Ultimately, there is nothing you can do from home if your dog’s stitches came out or undone. If a suture is pulled out, the risk for events like blood loss, infection, and painful scarring becomes increasingly likely.
According to the VCA, stitches coming out is more common than you might think. Even when you take special care to limit mobility and prevent licking, stitches can still come out of place. Sometimes sutures coming undone is a result of a lousy stitch, or perhaps the wound is healing differently than expected. Often times, it is the result of your dog licking his stitches and causing them to open. Whatever the cause, a busted seam is no cause for alarm, though it does require swift action.
Remember to call ahead to the vet to let them know you are coming in. Often, a situation like a ruptured suture will receive immediate attention, and at the very least, the vet can be prepared for your arrival.
In the case that your trip to the vet is delayed, here are some measures you can take to improve the situation.
Keep the Wound Clean and Dry
If your dog’s stitches have come out, you must keep the wound clean and dry. There are a number of ways to clean a dog wound, but you mustn’t use any soaps made for humans. The dyes and fragrances found in human soap can be detrimental to a dog’s skin. Additionally, these same dyes and perfumes can wreak havoc on the delicate ecosystem of your dog’s internal systems if the soaps somehow penetrate the wound itself.
When cleaning dog stitches or a wound, it is best to use a canine-specific antimicrobial. Canine antimicrobial supplements come in the form of topical ointments, soaps, and sprays. It is a best practice for dog owners to always have some type of antimicrobial agent on hand for scenarios that require the immediate treatment of a wound or abrasion.
Do not attempt to thoroughly bathe your dog as a method of cleaning the wound. Instead, it is suggested by most vets that you use a warm compress or a bulb syringe.
Here are the fundamental steps for cleaning a dog’s stitches:
1) Gently dab away any excess moisture
2) Use a Bulb syringe to slowly and gently apply warm water
3) Dab away excess moisture and check to see if the wound is clean
4) Repeat this process until the wound is clean
5) Finish with a couple of sprays of antimicrobial spray or antibacterial ointment as directed.
6) Re-bandage if necessary
Do not under any circumstances attempt to close the wound yourself! Pet Coach reminds readers that home remedies for fixing damaged stitches are a one-way ticket to medical complications. These complications could endanger your dog and will likely be far more costly than a second trip to the vet. In most cases, vets do not charge to re-stitch a wound, especially if it is the first instance of the stitch coming undone.
How to Prevent Stitches From Coming Undone
The best way to handle an incident where your dog’s stitches come undone is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some of the best tips from PetHealth to ensure that your dog’s stitches remain intact:
Limit his movement – In most circumstances where stitches come undone, it is a direct result of too much movement. Dog’s love to jump and stretch, but you must prevent this behavior. Set up a comfortable place in your home, preferably on the floor so as not to encourage jumping, where your dog can rest and relax. If your dog is crate trained, stock the crate with some pillows and blankets for extra support.
Make him wear a collar – A collar will prevent your dog from gnawing at and licking his stitches. There is a direct link between broken stitches and licking, so buy your dog a comfy collar that will keep his gnawing instincts at bay.
If your dog’s stitches do come out, it is essential to remember that you are not to blame. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, and it is far worse to wait then it is to seek help. While stitches coming undone is not overly serious itself, it can lead to more significant complications. As a result, it is imperative that as soon as you notice the stitches have been compromised, you must take your pup into the vet as soon as possible.
If the stitches rupture at a time of day when your vet is closed, don’t wait overnight. Go into a 24-hour animal hospital and have the medical experts there fix your dog’s wound. Remember, stitches come undone, and it is nothing to be alarmed about; remain calm and act swiftly to get your dog the care he needs.
Llera, Ryan. “Care of Open Wounds in Dogs.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/care-of-open-wounds-in-dogs.
Farricelli, Adrienne. “How to Care for and Keep Dog Stitches Clean After Surgery.” PetHelpful, 14 Jan. 2020, pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Stitches-After-Care.
“Ask a Vet Online for Free, 24/7.” PetCoach, www.petcoach.co/question/?id=3361.