Steri Strips for Dogs: Can You Use Them?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Steri strips for dogs have become a popular way to close small cuts and wounds on dogs.

They are easy to use, thin pieces of medical tape that can be placed over a dog’s wound or cut, plus they are affordable and can help speed up the healing process.

However, some dog owners have raised concerns about using them: Is it safe? Will my pet lick off the steri strip when he is left alone? Will my dog get sick?

We answer these questions below so you know how to safely use this tool at home.

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What Are Steri Strips?

Steri strips, sometimes known as butterfly stitches, are a type of medical adhesive that is used to close wounds.

They are made of a porous, nonwoven material, and they are flexible enough to stretch over the top of your dog’s wound while being strong enough to keep it closed while it heals. (stepping on your puppy’s paw does not count!)

Steri strips come in different sizes and colors, so it is quite easy to find one that can cover most small wounds or cuts.

A lot of times, they are used as a backup for dissolvable dog stitches or when normal stitches are removed.

Why Are Dog Owners Using Steri Strips on Their Dogs?

There are many reasons to use steri strips on your dog’s wounds.

Steri strips help keep the wound clean and prevent infections and they can also make the healing process easier by keeping the hair out while closing a wound.

They are usually used when you want to keep a small cut or scrape covered until it heals and they can be quite useful in preventing scratches or chewing, which can cause further irritation and pain.

Doggy says, read this too: Dog Scratching Spay Incision With Hind Leg – 8 Ways To Comfort Her

Are Steri Strips Safe to Use on Dogs?

Are Steri Strips Safe to Use on Dogs?

Steri strips are safe to use on dogs, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, these butterfly bandages should not be used on large wounds or deep cuts that may require stitches. They are not a replacement!

Be sure to take extra precautions when bathing or taking a shower, and make sure the Steri-Strip region is kept dry for at least 24 to 48 hours.

Don’t forget to check the wound every day for any signs of infection and observe if your dog is excessively scratching at it.

It could be a case of the tape not being stuck properly or it could be something worse, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

Doggy says, read this too: How to Remove Sticky Bandage From My Dog? [Home Remedy]

Should I Use Steri Strips to Close My Dog’s Wound?

It’s important to note that steri strips are not a substitute for professional veterinary care.

They are also not a substitute for stitches, antibiotics, or pain relief, so if your dog is experiencing anything more serious than a small scratch or cut, you should really talk to your veterinarian first.

Steri strips can be helpful in certain situations—but they’re only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to proper wound management.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Dog Can’t Open Eyes After Grooming [What To Do Now?]

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How Do You Apply Steristrips to a Dog?

Here are the steps you can use to apply steri strips on your dog’s wound:

  1. Put on a pair of gloves. Steri strips are not meant to be handled with bare hands, so wear gloves for better protection.
  2. Clean your dog’s wound. You want to make sure that the area is clean and dry before applying the steri strip, so wash your hands and then use a damp cloth to wipe down the wound.
  3. Place the strip on one side of the wound, gently push the wound close, and close it off by sticking the other side of the tape.
  4. Remove any excess adhesive from around the edge of the strip with a pair of scissors or tweezers.

Here is a video of closing a wound on a human with steri strips, but the same steps can be used on a dog too.

How Do I Know if My Dog Is Allergic to Steri Strips?

Steri strips are a great way to keep your dog from licking and chewing at its wounds.

However, if your dog is allergic to the adhesive, it could cause some serious problems.

To determine whether or not your dog is allergic to steri strips, watch for these symptoms:

  • Skin irritation
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Itching

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog after applying one, it’s best to remove the offending tape immediately and consult with your veterinarian.

Hungry for more knowledge? Read this too: My Dog Sounds Like He Has a Hairball:  What Do I Do?  

How Long Should I Leave the Steri Strip on the Wound?

With Steri-Strips in place, you can wash your dog or let it take a shower.

Afterward, use a clean towel or cloth to gently wipe dry the area after cleaning it with light soap and water.

Take extra care to avoid pulling, tugging, or rubbing the strips so that they don’t become loose.

Usually, in two weeks or less, the Steri-Strips will come off naturally.

If there is any residual tape, you can remove them at this point. You can also cut the strips if they begin to curl before it is time to remove them.

If the dog has been running around or playing hard, it’s possible that he/she may reopen a small cut or scrape when they get home from playing.

This is why it’s important to check on wounds often so you can keep track of how well they are healing.

Is It Safe to Remove the Steri Strip From My Dog’s Wound at Home?

If your dog had stitches and the wound is covered by steri strips, you should not attempt to remove them, not until about 2 weeks later.

At this point, the tape would be falling off on its own, and you can gently remove any residual tape.

Your vet would have given you instructions on caring for the wound during this time, so be sure to follow them closely.

Give them a call to double-check if you are still unsure.

In general, steri strips are safe to remove at home, so there should not be any cause for concern.

Can a Dog Lick Steri Strips Off of His Wound?

Can a Dog Lick Steri Strips Off of His Wound

Yes, dogs can lick steri strips off of their wounds. And yes, it is a bad idea.

First of all, it may result in infection because the wound is open and exposed to bacteria in your dog’s mouth.

Secondly, chewing or removing the bandage could cause bleeding or permanent scarring to occur.

Unfortunately though, this isn’t something that we can prevent completely—but there are things we can do to help minimize how much damage might happen as a result of your dog licking off his steri strip bandages:

  • Make sure that they are not too tight – this means they should be snug enough so they stay where they need them but loose enough so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being choked by them
  • Use antibiotic ointment along with petroleum jelly on top of each one before putting them over his stitches/wound area (this will help keep moisture out)
  • Let your dog wear a cone collar at least for the first couple of days to prevent it from removing the strip by accident
  • Apply a No Chew Spray that will deter it from licking its wound (super useful to deter it from licking anything really)

Can Dog Wounds Heal Without Stitches?

There are three main scenarios in which stitches are used:

  • If the wound is deep or large enough that it could cause infection (like an open bite wound)
  • If the wound has an obvious tear in the skin
  • If the wound has been caused by an object that may become lodged inside of your dog’s body if not removed (like a piece of glass or metal)

Barring something as serious as the scenarios mentioned above, most dog wounds can do without stitching and will recover well on their own.

A vet may choose to simply clean out a wound and let it heal naturally if the skin borders are sufficiently near and there is not much motion or skin tension. [1]

In Conclusion: Using Steri Strips for Dogs

Steri strips, when used correctly and in the right circumstances, can be a great way to quickly close a small wound.

However, they are not a substitute for proper veterinary care.

If your dog has an allergy or other medical condition that makes steri strips unsafe for him, then they’re probably not the best choice for closing an injury.

And, they should only be used on wounds that are not deep!

Use your best judgment and imagine what you would do if a kid is suffering from a similar injury, and you should know what to do next!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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