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Laceration in Dogs

By: Dr. David Diamond

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A laceration is a wound produced by the tearing of body tissue. Unlike an incision with smooth edges, a laceration is often jagged and irregular. As a result, there can be variable degrees of damage to the underlying body tissue and structures depending on the depth and force of the trauma that caused the laceration. Minor trauma may damage the skin only. Major trauma may damage deeper muscles and tendons, or extend into the abdominal or chest cavities.

The wound created by the laceration is frequently contaminated with debris and bacteria, and all lacerations have the potential for hemorrhage, or infection. Lacerations associated with the following signs may require emergency treatment:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Inability to stand
  • Lameness
  • Abnormal mental state


    Diagnostic tests are needed to determine the severity of the lacerations and their impact on your pet. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination. Concurrent injuries should be noted.

  • Screening to determine if your pet is in shock.

  • If severe hemorrhage has occurred, tests for anemia (low red blood cell count), may be performed. However, laboratory tests are seldom needed unless the trauma is severe.

  • A chest X-ray may be needed if there is generalized trauma.

  • An abdominal X-ray may be required to determine the extent of injury.

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