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Dogfight Injuries and Wounds

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnosing the extent of the dogfight damage can be a challenge. Based on the area of the body involved, various tests may be required.

  • The most important part of diagnosing dogfight injury is a thorough physical examination. All body parts need to be examined to find all the damage and help determine which additional tests may be required.

  • For chest damage, radiographs (x-rays) are recommended to determine if there is lung damage.

  • For abdominal damage, radiographs are recommended to determine the presence of a hernia or abdominal fluid.

  • Ultrasound may be recommended if organ damage is suspected.

  • Blood tests may be done to determine the overall health of the animal and help determine proper anesthetic protocols. Usually, initial blood tests are normal.

  • Special dye studies may be needed to determine if there is a perforation of the intestinal tract, esophagus, stomach, intestines. Dye studies can also be used if urinary tract damage is suspected. (kidney, ureters, urethra)

  • CT or MRI may be needed if ultrasound and radiographs are unable to definitively determine the extent of the damage. Due to expense and availability, CT and MRI are not commonly done associated with dogfights.

    Treatment for dogfight wounds depends of the area of the body affected. For nearly all dogfight injuries, antibiotics and pain medications are administered.

  • Some dogfights result in shock. For these patients, intravenous fluids and life saving treatments are necessary before other injuries are treated.

  • Extensive bleeding is stopped by use of pressure wraps. Some bleeding is so severe or cannot be treated with a pressure wrap and emergency surgery is necessary.

  • Skin wounds are treated similar as lacerations. Dead tissue is removed. A drain may be placed if there is sufficient underlying damage and fluid accumulation is expected. The edges of the wounds are then sutured. For extensive skin wounds, eventual skin grafts may be required.

  • Chest injuries may require oxygen supplementation. In severe cases such as penetrating chest wounds, emergency surgery is essential.

  • Facial and head injuries may require medications to reduce brain swelling such as mannitol.

  • Abdominal damage may require surgery to repair internal damage. A ruptured spleen or kidney may need to be surgically removed. Bleeding into the abdomen is initially treated with abdominal wrapping and bandages. Abdominal hernias are repaired surgically. Intestinal ruptures or perforations are repaired by suturing the wounds or removing the damaged pieces of intestine.

  • Fractured bones may heal if bandaged or placed in a cast. Some will require surgical repair.


    After initial treatment of dogfight injuries, patients must be continually monitored. All medications must be given as prescribed. Immediately inform your veterinarian if you are having trouble medicating your pet. Improper or lack of home care is the primary cause of treatment failure.

    If your pet is bandaged, make sure the bandages are kept clean and dry.

    Repeated veterinary exams are essential to make sure your pet is continuing to recover. If infection occurs, bacterial cultures may be submitted for analysis. Based on these results, a different antibiotic may be prescribed.

    In the warm months of the year, it is essential that you keep your pet clean and in a fly free area. Maggots can develop in poorly healing skin wounds.

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