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The Basics of Wound Healing

Posted by Scott Pollak on

Brought to you by William Pollak D.V.M.
and the Fairfield Animal Hospital

Holistic medicine sees wound healing as an opportunity to exhibit to the world (or to anyone who is watching) the power of life to maintain continuity through time. Adapting to the constant change of living through the mechanisms of repair is one aspect of maintaining homeostasis (internal evenness through constant adjustment). To observe the healthy repair of wounds is just another everyday miracle of life. Knowing some basic principles of wound repair will enable us to appreciate this special activity even more.

The body moves through healing as fast as it can. Encouraging conditions that maximize the rate of repair is what the art and science of medicine is all about. If purification and cleaning is necessary and the body elects to drain to the environment, this is a sign of a healthy body at work. Allowing this activity to take place over time without undue interference will strengthen the pet's healing capabilities; probably making it even more capable of future successes.

  1. My cat was in a fight a few days ago and now he's limping. I don't see any cuts or scratches on him. What can I do to help him?

During a fight, a cat often receives multiple bite wounds that can be difficult to see under the fur. These wounds are usually on the limbs and at the base of the tail, where it meets the body. There are usually two wounds, one from a top tooth and one from a bottom tooth of the attacking cat. Abscesses usually develop 3 to 4 days after a fight, resulting in swelling and lameness. Reverse the hair coat in the affected area and look for crusting, drainage or scabs. These can be very small. If your cat will let you, pull off any scabs or patches of dead hair. Treat an abscess by warm-soaking with an epsom's salt solution: 1-2 teaspoons of epsom's salt to a cup of warm water, 3-4 times per day for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. (If you don't have epsoms salts, a solution of ordinary table salt with a little dish soap will do.) Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply it to the affected area. Ledum, hypericum or apis are good homeopathic choices and rescue remedy is always appropriate. Give your pet extra fluids in the form of egg or meat broth and feed a high-quality diet supplemented with raw foods. If the teeth went very deep, if the wound is closed over and doesn't drain, or if the cat was in poor health to begin with, a fever may develop and the cat will stop eating and become listless. In that case, a trip to the vet is a good idea. Your cat may need more specific homeopathic treatments or an antibiotic.

  1. My dog got his foot caught on some wire and pulled one of his nails out. There was a lot of bleeding and I panicked. What could I have done?

Many wounds will stop bleeding if pressure is applied for 10 minutes. If bleeding persists or is of a pulsing nature (indicating a cut artery) the pet should go to a vet. If a laceration or tear is very deep or large, and bone or muscle is exposed, stitches may be necessary. Reducing the size of the hole in the skin (even if not completely) will markedly speed recovery. However, a trip to the vet may not be necessary if you can control the bleeding with pressure. When the bleeding has stopped, examine the wound gently to see if any foreign objects are present. If a wound has bled well, it usually has cleaned itself and needs no soaking or further cleaning at this time. Apply a secure bandage. If your pet seems upset, administer rescue remedy. Hypericum, ledum or arnica are the homeopathics of choice. As long as the pet remains vital and active with good appetite and healing is progressing nicely, the interventions of potions, salves, and chemicals is probably not necessary.

 


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