Dogs require stitches for surgical incisions and wound closures, as well as for injuries caused by accidents or traumas. While the overall healing process for dogs with stitches can vary, there are some best practices that pet owners can follow to facilitate their recovery. These include keeping the wound clean, preventing licking and chewing, restricting activity and exercise to avoid strain on the site, and administering any prescribed medications.
Infections, complications, and reopening of the wound can be serious consequences for a dog with stitches. The first step in minimizing these risks is to keep the site clean and dry, which means no bathing until the wound has healed, and covering the wound when it rains or snows. Additionally, no ointments or topical creams should be applied to the wound or around it unless specifically instructed by a veterinarian.
Stitches in dogs take 10-14 days to heal, but there are steps that pet owners can take to help ensure their pup’s recovery is as smooth as possible. The most important stitches care instruction is to prevent licking and biting at the incision and stitch sites, which can cause them to close up prematurely and expose the wound to infection. To help prevent this, pet parents can use a cone, Elizabethan collar, or other options like recovery jumpsuits and donut-style collars to block access to the incision.
Dissolvable stitches are also available, and they break on their own, allowing the incision to heal without the need for removal later on. Dr. Adams says these are ideal for surgeries within the body, such as spaying and neutering or intestinal surgery. They can also be used for especially anxious dogs who may need a low-stress recovery.