‘Dottie’ photo courtesy of Karen and Bill Jason

Abracadabra! Magic healing gel for human injuries & scars heals your injured dog/horse too.

Better living for you and your pets!
Topic: Pet Health Hack

Before we dive in to the world of ‘healing wounds and scars’, we must reiterate (despite being highly skilled at the board game ‘Operation’) we are neither doctors nor veterinarians and don’t play one on the internet. We are not doling out advice, simply providing information, education and our opinion based on decades of experience working with animals. Whatever we write is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a competent professional (doctor or veterinarian etc.) for medical advice.

Silicone gels are frequently recommended for human use (not animals) by doctors, plastic surgeons and manufacturers to help minimize and smooth out scars. There are various products available at varying prices. Our personal experience is that silicone gels seem to be most effective on fresher injuries where the wound has just closed and formed a scab, but is still in the healing process. We’ve used these gels on our own human wounds but also have used them very effectively on dogs too, in particular those who have smooth short-haired coats like Vizslas, Weimaraners, Staffordshire (pit bull) Terriers, smooth-coated Dachshunds etc. We feel that silicone gels could be effectively applied to horse injuries too, as many have smooth short coats. We’d appreciate any feedback on horse injury treatments.

When a smooth-coated short-haired dog gets injured the cosmetic impact can be quite extensive (an injury can take up considerable physical real estate on a small dog). These injuries can occur in lots of different ways, and are often just part of day to day life. Sometimes their skin gets torn by: branches while doing a crazy dash through the woods (Scooby-Doo, where are you?), being attacked by another dog at a dog park, the teeth of another dog catching its ear while playing, being hit by a moving car etc. There are lots of scenarios where dogs get injured and for rough-coated or long haired dogs the cosmetic impact is often far less than with smooth-coated short-haired dogs.

We personally have encountered very energetic, almost Olympic athletic dogs who run and play hard and who are more prone to injuries in general. In searching for solutions to reduce the very visible scars that can occur and also to promote healing, we discovered that silicone gels can heal unsightly scars (which don’t seem to bother the dog but are often emotionally painful for an owner to see) to the point of being barely detectable.

Techniques we use

What to do first

Clean the wound completely and then apply an antibiotic cream. Whether you choose to use your own home first-aid methods for this and/or consult a veterinarian is completely up to you. Some wounds are so extensive that they need surgery, stitches or staples plus a course of antibiotics. It’s a judgement call, just like you’d make with a young child.

When to apply silicone gel

Once the wound has been cleaned and appropriately attended to, and is healing, to the point where the wound has closed and the scab has just formed, apply a very thin smear of silicone gel to the scar, several times per day. We’ve had very good results with the brand ‘Kelocote’ but we suggest that you read the reviews/educate yourself on the different brands available to determine what you prefer.

Prevent your dog from ingesting silicone gel

If the wound on your dog is in an area where they can lick it, we recommend that you use some kind of E-collar (recovery collar) so that they cannot ingest the silicone gel. Some people put t-shirts on their dogs to cover up a wound area, so that their dog cannot lick it. There are various solutions available on the internet (admittedly some rather embarrassing for your dog) and through your vet.

Benevolence, Consistency and Patience = Success

The key to success with silicone gels is just the same as successful animal training —benevolence, consistency and patience. It will seem like the silicone gel is not working initially and many people are inclined to give up too early. In our experience it is best to just keep applying the thin smear of silicone gel a few times/day over the course of several weeks/months and each time throw in a yummy goody for your pooch. Remember your dog is wondering “is this a trick or a treat?” when you’re lurking with the gel tube. Make sure it’s always a treat.

It’s the ‘watched pot never boils’ phenomenon. If you stop looking for results, one day, out of the blue, you’ll realize that the wound and scar have diminished, in our experience to the point of almost undetectable and the hair has grown back. It feels like magic.

Addendum: Some research has been performed comparing the effectiveness of various scar treatments including vitamin E, onion extract and honey. It appears that honey “rapidly clears existing wound infections and protects against further infection, reduces swelling and minimizes scarring, removes infected and dead tissue and speeds healing by stimulating new tissue growth” (http://www.the-dermatologist.com/article/8866). We are particularly interested to learn more about using non-synthetic treatments, but that topic is for another article.

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