Using Betadine for Dog Wounds
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
Dilute Betadine Until It's a Weak Tea Color
What Is Betadine?
Among the many items and products you must have in your dog's first aid kit, make sure betadine is in it. Betadine is an over-the-counter topical antiseptic meant to reduce the number of microorganisms on the skin. It contains povidone-iodine, which is a potent antispetic. For many reasons, veterinarian surgeons use it when preparing the skin for surgery. It is also great for dog wounds. Here are some factors to consider when using it.
Things to Consider When Using Betadine
- It burns. You must always dilute it prior to its use. Betadine is normally of a dark brown color, so you'll have to dilute it with water until it's a weaker tea color. Applying it as is without diluting, can damage tissue. If you are looking for ratios, one part of it to 10 parts water is a good guideline.
- What about hydrogen peroxide? You may have heard about this alternative, but hydrogen peroxide doesn't have much value as an antiseptic and actually kills healthy tissue, which is why it foams. According to Vet Street, "The fizz created when it interacts with tissue makes it seem like something good is happening. Hydrogen peroxide, in fact, inflames the healthy skin around a wound, which increases healing time. Recent studies have shown that it’s not even an effective antibacterial." The only reason you see hydrogen peroxide in a dog's first aid kit is because it can be used to induce vomiting.
- What about alcohol? Do not use alcohol, because it burns. It is also a a drying agent and causes a delay in the healing process. The main reason why alcohol is in a dog's first aid kit is to disinfect thermometers after use for fevers.
The main products used as antiseptics for dog wounds are therefore betadine (povidone-iodine) and Nolvasan (chlorhexidine diacetate). In this article, we will be mainly focusing on betadine.
How to Use Betadine for Dog Wounds
There are several betadine formulations on the market. Before choosing one, it's a good idea to do some homework. For instance, consider that the scrub version contains povidone iodine and a detergent, making it suitable only for use on intact skin. You therefore want to look for a version containing 10% iodine in it that doesn't contain the detergent and has lower cytotoxic effects.
Dilution of Betadine
Even though the solution is 10 percent, you still need to dilute it. Never use full strength!
- Dr. Karen Becker suggests to dilute the povidone iodine with warm water until it is the color of iced tea. If too light, add more iodine. If too dark, add more water. If you want clearer directions then consider using 1 part betadine solution to 10 parts warm water mix.
- The Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook suggests making a 0.2 percent irrigation solution. Pour 10 ml of 10 percent betadine into two quarts of water.
Application of Betadine
- After diluting it, it can be applied to the sores with a washcloth by gently wiping.
- Wipe up to twice a day for minor sores and skin infections.
Another great feature of povidone iodine, according to Karen Becker, is that it's also safe for the dog to lick the area after being treated.
I recently got certified in pet first aid and CPR, and I was taught to always treat any wound as contaminated unless it's in a sterile environment. All wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. So, when dealing with any wound, your top priority should always be to stop the bleeding and do every thing possible to prevent infection. This is where betadine comes in handy. Discovered by Bernard Courtois in 1811, it is capable of destroying or inhibiting the development of microorganisms in living tissue. However, its use on open wounds is a bit a subject of controversy.
- There are those who disapprove the use of antiseptics on open wounds, and those who believe that their use is helpful in favoring and promoting wound healing while keeping infections at bay.
- Infections can delay the healing because of the toxins and waste material left behind that create issues. Along with the fact that microorganisms stimulate a persistent production of immune mediators. Invading bacteria also competes for oxygen and nutrients necessary for healthy cells to promote healing.
- Those who disapprove antiseptic use are concerned about antiseptics being cytotoxic. Cytotoxic is a term that simply means "toxic to cells." In other words, antiseptics have the potential to kill cells that are essential for healing, just as antibiotics potentially kill both bad and good bacteria.
- While it's true that betadine is cytotoxic, it's also true though that in low concentrations, it's significantly less cytotoxic. According to The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat:"Tincture of iodine is irritating, painful and damaging to tissue when applied to open wounds, and can delay healing. Tamed iodine or povidone-iodine retains the antiseptic properties of tincture but has none of its adverse side effects."
Questions & Answers
Question: Is betadine poisonous to dogs?
Answer: Good question. As with all first-aid products, it's important to prevent access to products, carefully monitoring the dog and keeping such products out of the way. Dogs should also be discouraged from licking off products either through careful supervision, distraction or the use of an Elizabethan cover when close supervision or redirection isn't possible.
According to veterinarian Dr. Andy, in general, ingesting a very small amount of diluted betadine shouldn't be a concern for toxicity. Some dogs with very sensitive stomachs though may develop some mild gastrointestinal irritation (nausea, vomiting, and possibly diarrhea). Large quantities are more problematic. Veterinarian Dr. Kara mentions that excess iodine can be toxic to a dog's thyroid gland causing electrolyte disturbances, but in general, a few licks should not be a problem. Encouraging the dog to drink may be helpful. Ice cubes, fresh water or low sodium broth with no onion or garlic in it can help. A dog who acts sick or ingests a larger amount should report to their vets or poison control.
Question: Is povidone-iodine the ointment version of Betadine?
Answer: Povidone iodine is the generic name. It is sold under a number of brand, trade names including Betadine.
Question: Is betadine safe for hot spots?
Answer: Yes, as long as it is diluted and your dog is prevented from ingesting it. Normally, one would clip the area around the hot spots very short so to allow the area to dry and would apply a solution mix of Betadine solution and warm water, made to look like weak tea. The area would then be treated twice daily. This is an antibacterial. Consider though that this solution can stain horribly so you probably want to do this outside. An Elizabethan collar would be important to prevent licking the area. Also, because hot spots are super painful, you may want your vet to shave the hot spots. When in pain, dogs can bite. Of course, hot spots with an infection require antibiotics prescribed by the vet. Please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment as there are other skin conditions that mimic hot spots.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 07, 2020:
Kerry, you would have to apply pressure with a gauze to stop bleeding and then take steps to prevent infection. Good products are a betadine solution or plain Neosporin (make sure dog doesn't lick it off). See your vet if bleeding doesn't stop or you see signs of infection, redness, swelling, odor. Also see your vet to see what the growths are!
Kerry Ginnard on September 07, 2020:
I am looking for info on growths on my dog and I my other dog jumped and it started to bleed. HELP!!
Brian on October 23, 2019:
Can i use betadine solution inside of my dog's mouth on a laceration
Jenny on April 21, 2019:
I had a neo mastiff whose paws and elbows kept getting sore. Diluted betadine was great but the vet kept prescribing antibiotics and steroids. Eventually he died of renal failure he was only four. Beware of vets overprescribing antibiotics and steroids.
nichole on December 29, 2018:
Shannon on June 02, 2017:
I've been cleaning my dogs wounds after hydrotherapy (5 times so far) with squirting straight betadine then patting dry with gauze and then applying granulex spray..... unfortunately I didn't know I should dilute the betadine, have I already caused harmed with his tissue re-growth? I'm so worried and can't afford any more vet bills as I'm already down $2,300. Any advice will be helpful. Thanks
Misty snow on October 12, 2016:
I have a bigger boxer and she got into a big fight with my other boxer and she's got some pretty good gashes on her legs the vet only gave her antiobiotics can I use the betaine on them
Sherry on August 01, 2016:
Thank you very much for the information ,because I was not for show its been a long time since I had a pet and its not even mine grand son is going off to College
Cheryl Fleischer-Smith on July 06, 2016:
My beagle has sores between his toes caused by hair or allergies my vet says. I have used this tea type mixture and all I can say is the swelling goes down and he seems comfortable. I do worry about him licking it tho, before I do a rinse cup of water. I found this link and am glad I did. Vet just wanted me to treat with steroids and antibiotics. Too many steroids is not good and I feel the same with antibiotics. I just worry about the licking...he is quick.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 16, 2013:
Thanks AliciaC, Betadine solution is also in my dog's first aid kit.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 14, 2013:
Thanks for the useful information, alexadry. I use betadine on my dogs. It's good to learn more about it.
Bactine For Dogs: Potential Risks
While it is generally safe to use topically on dogs, that’s not to say that Bactine and the ingredients contained within are completely harmless.
Not only does Bactine sting when first applied due to temperature differences and nerve stimulation, but benzalkonium chloride comes with plenty of potential side effects if it is eaten.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s silly! Why would I feed my pup Bactine when the cut is on its hind leg…?”
Even if you don’t intentionally feed your dog the antiseptic, don’t forget that dogs tend to lick. At everything. A LOT.
And when they lick a wound with Bactine sprayed all over it, they’re going to be swallowing a lot of the substance and suffering negative effects as a result.
Licking at the wound is going to create high concentrations of BAC in the dog’s mouth, leading to damage of the tissues and sores on the mouth and tongue. Other symptoms of benzalkonium chloride ingestion include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased drooling
- Muscle Weakness
If you discover that your dog has oral ulcerations, it would be a good idea to take it to the vet immediately.
Mild cases will be able to be treated with painkillers, but in more serious situations IV fluids and a feeding tube may be required until the dog’s mouth has healed enough to be able to eat again.
We haven’t even gotten to the possible negative side effects of lidocaine usage yet.
Just like BAC, lidocaine will cause problems when swallowed. Due to its numbing effects, it can cause swallowing difficulties and become a choking risk if it is ingested. Toxicity will kick in if a dog swallows more than 10mg per pound of body weight.
It may even cause complications in a few dogs when applied on the skin. If your dog has a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug, or if it has existing heart, liver, or respiratory issues- lidocaine should not be used.
Symptoms of lidocaine toxicity can include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness
If your dog is negatively affected by lidocaine, there is unfortunately no antidote. The only thing that you can do is to wait out the effects, which may last up to 48 hours depending on the amount which was ingested.
Things You Will Need
This is an important element because it is basically used to wash the wound before applying medications.
This is needed to shave off the hair around your dog’s wound. The scissors or the razors that are disposable must be used with extra care to avoid further hurting your dog.
This material is essential to easily remove the hair or shave the hair within the wound. Moreover, it reduces the possibility of contamination.
The clean towers are used for wiping down the water-based lubricant or to keep the skin dry before apply medications. Also, it is used to wipe down the area near the wound.
The antiseptic solution is important to prevent more infections. You can buy the Chlorhexidine. This solution is very cheap, but effective.
On top of that, you can get this medication easily because it is readily available. You can buy 2% solution so that you reduce the incidence of tissue irritation for your dog.
However,some dog owners are using the 4% solutions. Chlorhexidine is effective because it can prevent infections from different types of bacteria.
For traumatic dog injuries, it is ideal to use a wide spectrum antibiotic that contains bacitracin, polymyxin B or neomycin.
However, if you are dealing with problems related to yeast specially if your dog is allergic to it, buy miconazole ointment instead.
Can You Use Neosporin on Dogs?
Just like their owners, dogs are susceptible to minor injuries and are not immune to getting cuts, scrapes, or burns. But can you use Neosporin ® on dogs? The answer isn’t completely straightforward. In some instances, applying the topical, antibiotic ointment can help heal your dog’s wound, but there are situations when it is not advisable or necessary to use it on your canine companion.
Since most people immediately reach for some type of ointment when an incident occurs, it’s not unusual that your first instinct might be to do the same for your dog. But before you go ahead and start applying Neosporin, there are a few things to take into consideration.
With abrasions (scrapes and scratches), you should first clean and flush the wound with soap and water, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Your veterinarian should see all puncture or penetrating wounds, including dog bites, as soon as possible.
Neosporin is comprised of three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. Together, they work to kill bacteria on the skin and prevent topical infection. Dr. Rachel Barrack, a licensed veterinarian, certified in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology with Animal Acupuncture in New York City, points out that Neosporin has been formulated for people and is not necessarily safe for use on dogs.
“Bacitracin has been deemed safe for use on animals, as has polymyxin B. However, neomycin has been linked to loss of hearing,” she says. “This was primarily shown with intravenous use, but it is recommended that you do not administer neomycin topically to your dog without first consulting your vet.”
Because Neosporin is topical and applied directly onto the skin, there’s always a chance that your dog could have an allergic reaction. It’s a good idea to administer a small patch test first. The best way to do this is by picking a small area of skin and applying a tiny dab of Neosporin, then monitor the area to see if your dog develops a mild rash, redness, or hives.
“Typically, small amounts of Neosporin are not harmful,” says Dr. Danel Grimmett, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Oklahoma. By performing a patch test in advance, you’ll know for certain whether your dog can tolerate this antibacterial cream before he really needs it.
The advantage of using Neosporin is that it kills off any live, existing bacteria, and stops them from growing. When applied to the skin, it helps to create a physical barrier against bacteria to prevent them from entering the wound and offers protection against infection. But there are some instances in which applying it to your dog might do more harm than good.
If your dog’s wound is located in a spot that’s easily reachable, he might try licking the Neosporin off, which not only defeats the purpose but also might make your pup sick.
“The main concern regarding ingestion of Neosporin is the potential impact to the GI flora (normal gut bacteria), resulting in GI upset such as vomiting and diarrhea,” explains Dr. Grimmett. “A second potential cause of GI upset would be the lubricant base, which could also give them diarrhea, etc.”
You can try covering the area with a sterile dressing, but Dr. Grimmett points out that not all dogs tolerate bandaging, and the same desire to lick something off their skin will most likely prompt them to chew, as well. “A bandage can act as a tourniquet, reducing adequate blood flow to extremities, if not managed well,” he says. “Great care must be taken to prevent any constriction.”
Other instances when Neosporin would not be beneficial to your dog are if he is bleeding heavily, the wound is deep, or appears to be severe. In these circumstances, it’s important to call your veterinarian or nearest animal hospital immediately for assistance.
While using Neosporin to treat a minor injury to your dog may be fine at times, there are several products that are designed specifically for canines and completely safe, even if ingested.
Whatever type of injury your dog sustains, it’s important to first talk with your veterinarian before administering any new medications, especially if they’re made for humans. “Your veterinarian is better equipped to treat your dog’s potential infections than you are at home,” says Dr. Barrack.
Applying Triple Antibiotic Ointment
After you have removed the pressure dressing, cleanse the area around the wound with a surgical scrub solution such as Betadine or Nolvasan. Because both solutions are very irritating to tissues, please do not allow the solution to get into the wound. You must dilute the Betadine solution to a weak tea color and the Nolvasan should be diluted to a pale blue color. You should also clip the hairs around the wound to prevent them from sticking to it after the antibiotic has been administered. The best triple antibiotic to use is the topical antibiotic ointment called “triple antibiotic.”
According to product manufacturers, Triple Antibiotic Ointment (generic name B.N.P Triple Antibiotic Ointment) is a combination of three antibiotic medicines including Bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin B. It is used to treat bacterial infections caused by cuts as well as scrapes and burns on the skin of cats and dogs. Other common antibiotics for wounds on dogs include a mixture of chlorhexidine and Betadine, Furacin (topical cream and 0.2 percent solution) and 1 percent Silvadene cream.
After you have applied the triple antibiotic ointment or other antibiotic, you may leave the wound open or bandaged depending on the location and other factors. Head and upper body wounds are typically left open to help facilitate treatment. These wounds are tougher to bandage as well, so they do not benefit greatly from being covered. Wounds of the extremities are typically covered to protect them from dirt and contaminants. Covering wounds of the extremities also:
- Restricts movement
- Eliminates pockets of serum
- Prevents the dog from biting and licking
- Compresses skin flaps
- Keeps the edges of the wound from pulling apart
Nearly all leg and foot wounds can benefit from a bandage. Triple antibiotic ointment is available for purchase online, directly from your vet or at pet store pharmacies.