An occupational hazard?

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Spaniel scratches – what’s the answer?

Q: Now I am retired I have been able to work my spaniels more frequently this season. One has so many cuts around her eyes and over her muzzle from having to retrieve birds from deep cover that it doesn’t take much to make them start bleeding again. Is there anything I can use to stop this happening?

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Caught the hubby doing some named retrieving tonight with the dogs. Excuse the kid’s playing in the background. 😊😊 #gundogtraining #cockerspaniel #lab #retrieving #gundog #workingcocker #workingcockerofinsta #workingcockerspanielsofinstagram #dogtraining

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A: This is something of an occupational hazard for dogs that all too willingly enter dense cover and sustain cuts and abrasions around their face as a result.

Abraded wounds have to heal by a process called “granulation” whereby initially new scar tissue comes in to heal the wound. Granulation tissue doesn’t have the strength of normal skin and until it can be replaced naturally by each of the various elements of standard skin tissue, the wound is prone to further injury. Abraded wounds are often contaminated and infection, no matter how minimal, delays the healing process further.

The best thing to do when your dog first sustains such injuries is to smear a little Vaseline on the wound, being particularly careful not to get any in the eyes. This will protect the wound from further contamination. When you get home, clean the wound with a mild antiseptic solution.

Abraded wounds are best left open to heal if there is little risk of further injury or infection, but clearly this isn’t always going to be the case if the dog is to continue working. If you can’t stop the dog further injuring itself and the situation gets to the point where every time you work the dog the healing wounds start bleeding again, my advice is to consider retiring the dog for the rest of the season, if necessary, to allow the skin time to heal properly and the hair to regrow.