This advice is not intended to replace veterinary care and attention. If your pet has suffered from burns or scalds, then, having carried out the first-aid measures described, you should contact your daytime vet or find your nearest Vets Now clinic for advice on what to do next. 

Are pet burns serious?

Scalds are burns caused by hot liquid. Burns may be caused by direct heat or chemicals. The type of burn and the inciting cause will dictate the sort of injury which will be seen. 

Burns cause both immediate and ongoing/delayed damage and immediate first aid measures should address these 2 risks. 

If the burn is extensive, involves sensitive areas (such as near the eyes, or genitals), or has caused deep tissue damage then it’s considered a medical emergency and you should seek veterinary advice immediately after performing the first step below. 

Chemical burns should always be treated as an urgent medical issue.  

How should pet burns be treated?

If possible remove the cause of the burn straight away, but if the burn is caused by something that could be firmly adherent to the skin (like clothing, or melted plastic) then do not attempt to remove it as you could cause further injury.  

Be careful not to come into contact with the cause of the burn and injure yourself. 

Heat burns: Tissue damage continues even after the source of heat is removed, so the next step is to cool the wound by flushing it with cool, but not cold, running water for at least 5-10 minutes. This helps dissipate heat and reduce pain and inflammation. If the burn is extensive, use a shower or hose to cool your pet all over. 

Chemical Burns: Protect yourself by wearing gloves and avoid splashing your own skin. Ensure your pet cannot groom the contaminated skin so they don’t risk internal burns and toxicity. Check the manufacturer’s label for advice on decontamination, but if there is no information, use copious quantities of running water, as with heat burns. You should contact a vet for advice as soon as possible. Be ready to provide full details of the chemical involved.  

What products should I use on pet burns?

Do not apply butter/fats, or any creams or ointments to the burn. 

After flushing the burn, gently pat it dry with kitchen roll or a clean fresh cloth and cover it with a non-stick dressing to protect it and prevent further injury or contamination. 

Cling film makes an excellent first aid primary layer as it will seal the moisture onto the injury and will not adhere to it. 

Do I need to take my dog or cat to the vet for burns?

Wounds are prone to infection, and they are very painful. Your pet will need pain relief and may require antibiotic cover. 

All but the smallest burns require specialised dressings to be applied which will protect the wound, promote healing and not adhere to the damaged tissue.