Help! The groomer nicked my pet!

This is certainly something that no one wants to think about, but one risk factor of pet grooming is the occasional cut.  Shoot, that’s a big part of why we don’t do it ourselves – we have a professional do the work! Even a pro can occasionally snip the wrong thing and that’s because our pets do not hold still for the groomer and do not understand the consequences.  It is a blessing that we as vets rarely see cuts from the groomer – I commend them for their work!

A gray square with the numbers 5 2 and 3 2 written in it.

But it happened to YOUR pet – now what?  More than likely your pet stopped bleeding before it was sent home.  If a more serious incident occurred, the groomer probably already took your pet to the vet for stitches, glue, or staples.  If your pet has re-commenced bleeding, the first thing is to stop the flow and allow a scab to form.  Apply direct pressure to the wound with a paper towel.  Do not use any soaps or peroxide to clean the site as you may actually rub away the first stages of the scab that are trying to form.  Remember that ears (and feet) are extremely vascular and like to bleed a lot – it is not unusual for a shake of the head to re-open a small wound and for that wound to seem really large based on the amount of blood evident on the ear.  Fear not, it can be fixed.
If there is a flap or slit present, it will be worth considering having the area repaired, especially if you are interested in the cosmetics of how the wound heals.  Keep in mind that because of their fur our pets can hide many of their old scars, but if you do not like scars then a trip to the vet is warranted.  If your pet will hold still for the repair, they may not require general anesthesia, however we presume they did not hold still the first time, so keep this in mind when discussing the level of anesthesia needed for the work with your vet.  We have the choice of using glue for small wounds that are not highly mobile, staples and local anesthesia for some types of gashes, or sutures with sedation for more complicated cuts.  Some wounds may be best bandaged.  Your vet can help with the repair plan.
So what do I need to know?
1. Unless your groomer has a history of repeat injuries, do not be too hard on him/her.  These accidents happen.
2. Do not rub a bleeding wound or small scab – dab it or put pressure over it.
3. Do not administer household human pain medications without explicit direction from your vet.  Many of these medications can lead to worse complications than your current dilemma.
4. Do not wrap the area with tape only to close a wound – when the tape is removed, the wound will re-open.
5. Wound healing 101: the wound will try to heal from the inside out, starting immediately.  If you are interested in cosmetic surgery do not wait – after 24 hours it’s not a good idea to try to repair a small wound that has already begun to repair itself.

Dr. Amy Hellard
West Chester Veterinary Care

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