Bite Wounds in Dogs

Bite wounds in dogs remind me of icebergs because the damage beneath the skin if often much worse than the surface damage. During a bite, the teeth are inserted below the dermis (skin), then two things can happen. First, the teeth can sink deep into the underlying tissue causing damage and injecting bacteria from the mouth. Second, if the biter twists their head while the teeth are inserted, the skin is ripped off the underlying muscle and bone leaving a pocket. If this pocket is not drained, a horrible abscess can form. Whenever I see bite wounds, I always probe the puncture wounds for pockets. If a pocket is greater than an inch, I put a drain in to prevent infection.

The biggest mistake people make is to look at the small puncture wounds and assume that is the extend of the damage. As the following images demonstrate, the superficial wounds do not indicate how much damage rests beneath the skin. Look at the first image and note the two puncture wounds.

Now l have inserted a cotton swab beneath the skin to demonstrate how much damage occurred. The tongue depressor is positioned at the end of the pocket.

To treat this condition, I inserted a drain to prevent an infection. The drain is the tan colored rubber tube sticking out of the skin.

After three days of antibiotics and medication to control pain, the drain was removed. The dog finished its medications and made a complete recovery.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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