When NOT to use Hydrogen Peroxide

The other day our dog, Buddy, got into a little altercation with another dog and came out the worst for it with a bite on his head.

Buddy may look sweet, but with other dogs he can act like he’s a nasty pit bull. Small dog complex?

As this happened late in the day, after our Vet was gone for the day, I thought we should just put some hydrogen peroxide on the bite, put some neosporin on it and wait till the vet’s office opened in the morning.

However, after my dear husband looked at the bite he said he though a trip to the emergency vet was in order. So, I called them and the tech said said “You shouldn’t put hydrogen peroxide on it. It will slow the healing.” I was shocked! I had to fess-up and tell her that we already did put peroxide on the bite. I thought it was just a “dog thing” that I shouldn’t use peroxide on an animal wound, I mean, after all, I grew up putting peroxide on all kinds of cuts and scrapes.

After getting home with the bite thoroughly cleaned and some antibiotics for good measure, I did a little research about hydrogen peroxide and found that indeed, the current wisdom is that it can slow healing and not just for animals, for everyone:

But multiple randomized, controlled trials — the best kind of research — show that hydrogen peroxide does not prevent or treat infections in wounds. Not only that, hydrogen peroxide slows healing and may even cause cellular damage. That bubbling you see? It’s probably the hydrogen peroxide attacking you.


Now, the WebMD article about hydrogen peroxide says that you can use it for cleaning minor cuts, scrapes and burns, but not for animal bites, or deep wounds. So I guess there may be some middle ground on this, but I think if I have something else available (water, rubbing alcohol?) to clean a cut or scrape with, I will use that rather than run the risk that the peroxide could actually slow the healing.



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