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  • Writer's pictureCaryl Wolff

What to do about Dog Burns

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Teach Your Dog to Swim

A family member of a fellow trainer accidentally spilled boiling water on her dog, and after taking the dog to the vet, she asked our trainers group for information about dog burns and advice about recovery or treatment. Fortunately, another trainer has a friend who is a wound specialist C. Van Steelandt, PT, CWS (Certified Wound Specialist) who has explained what to do if your dog is burned and has given me permission to reproduce it here.

Usually, it takes from 48 to 72 hours for a burn to ‘mature’ and show its true level. Until then, the definitive treatment cannot be determined, but the damage is already done. The best thing to do is to put cool water on it as soon as possible to reduce the temperature.

Neosporin in the meantime will keep the bacteria down, which is a high risk in the presence of fur and burned tissue, which has lost its ability to fight off bacteria, so it is necessary. Be liberal in your application of the Neosporin, as the petrolatum base will keep stuff from sticking, which is painful at best. I usually smear it on the gauze, then apply the gauze to the area, to keep owchy touching down. If possible, rinsing the area with lukewarm water during dressing changes can help wash away excess bacteria.

If the area is already raw and red, with the fur gone, you may be looking at a second degree burn. These are very uncomfortable, but quick to heal.

Be on the lookout for skin that looks black, brown, tan, and dry or leathery. This may indicate seriously (i.e., third degree) burned areas. It may be necessary to surgically remove the burned tissue if it has penetrated to a 3rd degree burn. Otherwise, this burned tissue will keep the dog from healing quickly and will provide a ready breeding ground for bacteria, the biggest danger.

I have found that the elastic sticky wrap, known variously as VetWrap or Coban, sometimes with paw prints on it, is stellar for keeping the dressings in place with maximum dog comfort. I have also found that cheap child-sized tee shirts can keep the dressings and wraps in place with minimal movement. As an alternative, if you can find a small sized tube top and poke front leg holes, that works, too.

During the recuperative phase, anyone who has been burned uses more calories than average to heal. (The larger the burned area, the more calories needed) This is a good time to focus on a super-good diet, with mild regular exercise, and a safe place to rest out of the way of any accidental touching. When uncomfortable AND startled from a nap, even a sweetie pie can snap.


I hope this is helpful. The vet can help with bandaging techniques for maximum coverage, yet allowing maximum movement and comfort.

C. Van Steelandt, PT, CWS (Certified Wound Specialist)

Here’s my comment — there are accidents and there are things that can be prevented. This is something that could have been prevented by making the kitchen off limits when any person is in there. How many times have *we* been injured when in the kitchen even when our dog was nowhere near the kitchen?

Kitchens are very dangerous places, for both people and dogs. We tend to think it’s funny when our dogs scarf up the crumbs, but not when we turn around with something sharp or hot in our hands and then someone gets injured.

One of my house rules is that my dogs are not allowed in the kitchen whenever a person is in there — even though they have to traverse the kitchen to get to their water bowl. They simply have to wait until the person leaves to get a drink.

Alternately, you can teach your dog to go to a specific place in the kitchen where he will not be in the way or stepped on. It’s a simple exercise that teaches dogs to respect your space.

Thanks for visiting What to do about Dog Burns. I make a small commission on any products or books I recommend.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.

If you need help with puppy or dog training, we do both private in-person and virtual lessons via Zoom. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to . We look forward to working with you.


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