How to Tell if a Wound Infection Is Healing in Dogs

Always check with your vet if a wound doesn't appear to be healing.
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If your dog is wounded due to accident, injury or a fight or bite involving another animal, immediate veterinary attention is advised. Wounds that become infected are red, inflamed, swollen, hot to the touch and may feature draining fluids or a pus-like substance. Vet care often includes treatment with antibiotics as well as wound cleaning and repair.

Immediately Following Treatment

An infected wound that is treated either surgically or non-surgically will continue to look red and infected initially. Dogs have highly elastic skin, and even if the wound was sutured and dressed with bandages, it may still retain an enflamed and swollen look. This is normal unless accompanied by a high fever, excessive bleeding or streaking from the site of the wound.

Within Several Days of Treatment

The wound may continue to drain, but the redness and inflammation should begin to subside, as should the swelling. Connective regenerative tissues will begin to form as the healing process progresses. Continue to follow your doctor's instructions in terms of changing wound dressings and applying prescribed antibiotic creams or ointments. Dogs have tendency to chew and lick wounds, so talk to your vet about using an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from reopening his wounds or ingesting topical treatments.

Wound Healing Progression

An infected wound that is healing well will continue to see decreased swelling and redness as tissues begin to regenerate. A shiny pink surface may form over the wound, which may began to harden and scab over as part of the healing process. Continue to follow doctor's instructions with regard to monitoring your dog’s condition and cleaning dressing the wound as directed.

Final Healing Stages

Final healing of the infected wound may involve removal of stitches, unless medical glue or dissolvable stitches were used. The skin will form scar-like tissue that will slowly blend into the surrounding skin. The area will still look tender to the touch but should not be hot, swollen or inflamed. Depending on the size and nature of the wound, you dog’s hair may or may not re-grow over the damaged tissue area.


An infected wound needs careful care and attention to ensure both eradication of the infection and proper healing of the wound. This is especially true if your dog was bitten by another dog or a wild animal. Follow your vet’s instructions for wound care and ask what signs or symptoms require additional medical attention. Dispense all prescribed medications as directed, and in full. Stopping an antibiotic just because your dog looks well may not fully eliminate the infection. If you have any concerns about the progression of the healing process, contact your vet for advice.