Do Contusions Need To Be Treated In Dogs? Assessing the seriousness of this common occurrence

Do Contusions Need To Be Treated In Dogs?

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Arthritis & Pain
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Contusions is a fancy word for scratches and is not a typically alarming thing, especially in dogs. But if not prevented from infections, they might as well turn ugly.

If you've ever had a bruise, then you know how painful it can be. And if your dog has bruises on its body, you might wonder: "Is this something to worry about?" The answer is yes and no.

As with humans, some contusions will heal independently, and some may require medical intervention. However, it's important not to panic if your dog has gotten into a scuffle with another animal or fallen off the couch. Minor injuries like these don't always require treatment. If your pet needs medical attention due to a bruising incident (or any other injury), here's what you need to know about caring for their body after being hurt. 

What Is A Contusion?

A contusion is an injury to the skin that occurs when it is damaged by a blow or fall. It's not broken skin but rather a bruise caused by trauma. Your dog may have been hit by a car or fallen down the stairs, and now you're wondering if you should treat it with cold compresses.

Contusions can be treated with cold packs, compression wraps (like ACE bandages), or even sports bras for small dogs for other treatments to work. You can also use ice packs between your dog's paws after he gets them wrapped up if he doesn't like having things strapped on too tightly anyway. 

How Common Are Contusions In Dogs?

Contusions are the most common kind of dog injury. According to the CDC, over 50% of all injuries in dogs are contusions. Contusion injuries can happen anywhere on your dog's body and can happen at any time. They're more common in some breeds than others but can occur in any breed or age group.

Injuries like these are often caused by car accidents or falling off a bed or couch. It doesn't take a lot for a dog to get hurt if it's not paying attention to what's happening around it. Other times, contusion injuries might be caused when your pup is playing fetch with you in the backyard and runs into one of its Kong dog toys instead. 

Why Do Dogs Get Contusions?

The most common causes of dog contusions include:

  • A fall or bumping into something. This can happen when a dog is running, playing, or jumping around and happens to hit the ground awkwardly.

  • A bite or scratch from another animal (e.g., a fight).

  • Being hit by a car while crossing the street.

  • Jumping off high surfaces like fences, tables, beds, and more. 

Are Contusions Serious?

Contusions are not life-threatening, but they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. It can become serious if you don't get your dog treated for their contusion. The things to watch out for are the depth of the bruise and what resulted in the bruise. If they fall on the road or get scratched by a metal end (especially if rusted), they might need to get a shot to prevent an infection (you can ask your vet for a precautionary course of doxycycline for dogs to be at a safer side). In case of a muscular tear, giving them a high-protein diet such as Eukanuba is best to help them get better soon. If this is not the case, a normal bandage should do the trick. 

How Are Contusions Diagnosed?

If you suspect your dog has a contusion, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis. The best way to do this is by having him examined by a veterinarian. A physical exam of the body will help determine if any injuries need immediate medical attention. A blood test or x-ray may be ordered to determine if there are internal injuries in addition to the contusion itself. 

What Are The Treatment Options For Dog Contusions?

Contusions can be treated fairly easily, but you need to ensure certain things:

  • Keep your dog quiet. If you have a dog with a contusion, try to keep him as still and calm as possible. You can use their favorite dog chew toys to keep them engaged. This will help reduce swelling and pain, which is important because too much activity could worsen things. If the pain is unbearable for them, that could be gauged from their uneasiness, then they could be administered Carprofen for dogs to relieve pain instantly. Vet consultation is always advised.

  • If your dog does get an infection, they might be prescribed Clavamox for dogs to get rid of the infection while also stopping it from spreading.

  • Keep your dog comfortable. The most important thing you can do for a contusion is to keep your pet relaxed and comfortable until he heals up on his own. This may take anywhere from one week to several months, depending on the severity of his injury. If there is a joint strain due to the injury, consider giving Cosequin for dogs to maintain their joint health. Even Dasuquin Advanced for dogs is a good supplement for keeping the joints healthy. 

How Can I Elevate My Dog’s Mood After A Contusion?

In the same way, you might feel upset after an injury, your dog may not be in the mood to play or walk around. This is normal, but it's crucial that you try to keep your dog entertained as best as possible. A massage session can help your dog relax and calm down. If he’s ready for some exercise, take him out for a short walk or play fetch using interactive dog toys with him indoors (especially if you have carpeted floors).

You can also give him treats after he has calmed down from the incident to reward his good behavior. 

There's No Need To Panic

It is usually fine to leave a contusion alone, but it's important that you keep an eye on the injury and make sure that it doesn't get worse. If your dog's contusion gets more swollen or painful, take him to the vet as soon as possible. If it doesn't get any worse, he should be able to heal on his own within a few days. But in the meantime, if the injury is in one of their forelimbs and they’re unable to reach their dog bowl stand, you might want to consider getting dog bowls in their reach in the injured state. 


We hope this article has helped answer your questions about contusions and how to treat them. If you have any further questions, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible or comment below for clarification.

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