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Why thick scabs increase scarring and the risk of infections

Why thick scabs increase scarring and the risk of infections

How you can help your dog's wounds heal faster

Scabs - most of us have had a good share of them in our lifetime. Pretty much as soon as we start walking, we start our ‘scab collection’ with falls, face plants, bicycle mishaps…. When it comes to skin wounds, cuts and abrasions, our canine friends also usually get a pretty good collection by the time they are a few years old.

My plan is to help you become the masters of wound and incision care.

When most people see a wound, they clean it with hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine soap and don’t think twice. But these substances actually cause damage to the margin of the wound and slow down healing. Read more here.

And there is another mistake that so many people make that causes an increased risk of wound infections and scarring. 

Most of you know me as a dog lover and a canine vet, but when it comes to wound care, I learned the most important lessons from my early practice with horses. Much of equine medicine is about injuries and one of the most common injuries are skin cuts. 

When nature created horses, it didn’t count on humans inventing fences and barbed wire. As a result, many horses get injured when their instincts tell them to run and a fence gets in the way.

I spent countless hours stitching up wounds of different shapes and sizes and what I learned was that the most important part of healing was to keep the wound clean and free of scabs.  The best and the most effective way of ensuring fast healing was to use a hose or shower head to soak all the scabs and dry discharge off to free the margins so they can close. It is also important to apply a herbal wound spray to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. When repeated twice daily, wounds would heal beautifully, but if dry, thick scabs and discharge were left to cover the wound, infections and necrosis (dying of skin) were common.

Gradually, I started seeing more small animals and eventually I became a canine vet, but I never forgot the lesson horses taught me. Instinctively, I follow the same approach for wounds in dogs and soak off the scabs with a piece of sterile gauze and either water or saline solution. Then I rinse the wound with body temperature, or colder, water before I apply Skin Spray.

Similar to horses, dogs respond amazingly well to this treatment and heal faster and have much less scarring. 

Perhaps you are thinking, ‘why should one remove scabs when nature created them?’ To be honest, I do not know, but from what I have learned it is good to prevent scab formation until about seven days after the injury. By that point, the scab will be thin and allow the skin margins to come together quickly.

And if you are in doubt about what I just wrote here, do a little experiment the next time you have a skin abrasion. I will bet the ‘no scab approach’ will result in faster healing and minimal scarring.

Thanks for sharing this article with those you care about.

Recommended reading:

Your guide to safer, faster, pain-free wound & skin healing

Why hydrogen peroxide should not be used on wounds

5 most common mistakes people make when treating skin wounds and incisions

Natural treatment of wounds, incisions, hotspots, bee stings, insect bites and more

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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