cat at vet

Veterinary Treatment is Best

Question:

I put hydrogen peroxide on a cat wound, ooops, now I know. What can I do now? The wound looks like a gouge. A veterinary visit is not an option right now.

 

Dr. Nichol:

Hydrogen peroxide is a time-honored wound treatment that does not deserve his wholesome, innocuous reputation. Largely relegated to the dust bin of potentially dangerous folk remedies I suspect that it may have been used by June Cleaver or even George Washington’s physician. Along with blood-letting it’s no longer considered current medical practice.

Hydrogen peroxide isn’t even particularly good at killing bacteria but it is high on drama. Blasting it into an infected wound triggers lots of impressive bubbles. Sadly, it can be damaging to tissues; the last thing an angry inflamed wound needs is more irritation. It does break down pus and scabs but you can get that job done safely and effectively with warm water on a wash cloth. A deeper wound should be thoroughly irrigated, ideally with normal saline. Treatment of a puncture wound that poses a risk of becoming abscessed (filled with pus and releasing bacterial toxins into your cat’s body) would necessitate a veterinarian’s skills.

A minor cat wound that’s had a bad day made worse by well-intentioned hydrogen peroxide can be irrigated at home with warm water. Don’t use soap. It’s unnecessary and could further worsen your kitty’s already dark mood. I would also avoid ointments and creams although a thin film of over-the-counter Aquaphor would promote healing by keeping the injured tissues moist. Your cat’s wound should be covered with a comfy bandage to prevent the Aquaphor from being licked, swallowed, and ultimately passed into the litter pan, where it won’t help anybody.

A wound’s significance, by the way, isn’t in the eye of the beholder but rather a diagnostic distinction. Your cat should be examined by a real veterinary doctor before concluding that this project is a do-it-yourselfer. If you don’t have the ready cash for a physical exam you can apply for Care Credit online. They approve most applicants, allowing a pet to be treated immediately. No interest for 6 months is a good thing.

 

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.