Laceration in Dogs

Canine Lacerations

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

Diagnosis of a Laceration

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

Treatment of Canine Lacerations

All lacerations have the potential for hemorrhage or infection and, therefore, should be evaluated immediately by your veterinarian or local emergency hospital. Intravenous fluids may be administered if your dog is showing signs of shock. Blood transfusions are needed if there is severe blood loss causing anemia.

Emergency wound care involves the following principles:

Home Care of Lacerations in Dogs

If your pet has a laceration, consider applying direct pressure over the wound with a clean cloth to control the bleeding. Attempt this only if you are confident you can do it without being bitten by your frightened pet. Pressure will allow the smaller blood vessels to clot and stop bleeding. The larger vessels will not clot with pressure alone, but will at least stop bleeding until you can get your pet to your veterinarian.

You can use water from a hose or shower to gently flush large pieces of debris out of the wound. This should only be done if the wound is heavily contaminated and there is a delay in getting your pet to your veterinarian.

Cover the wound with another clean cloth, such as a clean towel, while transporting your pet.

After your veterinarian has repaired the wound, keep your pet indoors to allow it to rest and heal and to allow you to monitor the wound.

The skin sutures are removed after the wound has completely healed, usually 10 to 14 days. Do not allow your dog to chew or lick at the wound. To prevent this, you may need to obtain an Elizabethan collar from your veterinarian.

After the laceration is repaired, your pet will need time to rest and heal. Keep him indoors and allow minimal activity. Watch the sutured wound closely for excessive redness, swelling, or discharge, to ensure that the wound edges remain closed.

Your dog will need to be returned to the veterinarian to have the wound reevaluated. The skin sutures will usually be removed at 10 to 14 days or when the wound has completely healed.

Give all antibiotics as directed. Notify your veterinarian if you are having difficulty treating your pet.

In-Depth Information on Lacerations in Dogs

Common causes of lacerations include bite wounds, running into sharp objects, or being hit by an automobile. Trauma that causes a laceration may also cause more life-threatening injuries that need to be evaluated, such as shock, bleeding and fractures.

Lacerations are just one type of wound or tissue injury that can occur in pets that have suffered trauma. The severity of lacerations can vary from small, single lesions to multiple or highly complicated lesions. The location of injuries can impact the wound management.

The following situations require special management:

Diagnosis In-depth on Canine Lacerations

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize the impact of the laceration on your pet. Some of these include:

Treatment In-depth on Canine Lacerations

Treatment will depend upon the cause of the trauma and secondary injuries present and may be emergency care, emergency wound care, or definitive wound care.

Emergency Care

Emergency Wound Care for Dogs

Definitive Wound Care

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