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Bite wounds

This is unfortunately an all too common injury in dogs due to fighting with other dogs. The ideal way to treat bite wounds are to leave them open so as to clean them often and allow them to drain, especially if they are only small puncture wounds. This is because bite wounds are always considered a dirty wound due to the high bacterial load in any animal’s mouth and closing them puts them at a high risk for developing an abscess. It is still recommended to bring the dog in for an examination even if the bite wounds are small because it would be ideal to place them on a course of antibiotics to prevent infection and anti-inflammatories for pain; and these drugs cannot be given over the counter without seeing the animal first. Sometimes in the case of slightly larger wounds the vet may recommend bandaging the wound to protect it and prevent contamination, but will still leave the wound “open” (ie. no stitches) again to try prevent the formation of an abscess, but in this case the dog will have to be brought in for regular bandage changes and to clean the wound and inspect its progress. However, sometimes it is simply not possible to leave a bite wound open, especially in the case of very large wounds and the vet will have no choice but to close the wound with stitches despite the risk of abscess formation. In these cases the vet will most likely place a drain under the skin, though the wound, to allow adequate drainage of the wound and try prevent an abscess from forming.

 

Abscess Lancing

This is quite a common problem especially in cats due to fighting with other cats. Their nails are so sharp that when they scratch each other, it’s like having a tiny injection of dirt and bacteria right under the skin. The initial wound may not even be noticeable but after a few days there will be a soft, fluctuant, swelling, pain and often discolouration of the skin – all signs of an abscess. The best way to treat these abscesses is to place the animal under at least a deep sedation or a full anaesthetic and then lance the abscess, to allow all the pus to drain out and flush the pocket clean. This is then left as a small open wound to prevent another abscess forming and a course of antibiotics and pain-killers will be prescribed.

 

Lump removals

This is a very common surgery at our hospital, where we remove lumps of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the lump is simply an overreaction of the body’s immune system to a foreign material (like a thorn) or to infection and is then simply over active inflammation (called a granuloma). But often lumps can be cancerous, they may be either benign (meaning they don’t spread to other areas of the body, although they may be very locally invasive or get very big) or malignant (meaning that they are aggressive and can spread quickly to other organs in the body and cause very serious disease). For this reason your vet may want to do some tests before simply cutting out any, old lump so that we know what we are dealing with before we risk anaesthesia in these patients. These tests may include a Fine Needle Aspirate to draw some cells out of the lump and these can either be examined by the vet themselves or sent to a cytologist (a specialist in the appearance of cells and their identification under the microscope) to try identify the cells and tell us whether the lump is simply inflammation or cancerous; benign or malignant. This information is important to the vet before surgery because the type of cancer that the lump is will determine how much surrounding “healthy-looking” tissue also needs to be removed in order to try and ensure that all of the cancerous cells are removed and therefore prevent regrowth of the lump. This is why you may bring your dog in for a small lump to be removed and they may go home with a lot more stitches than you expected.

 

Reconstructive Surgery

In some breeds of animals it is sometimes necessary to perform reconstructive or corrective surgery (in humans you might call this Plastic surgery) for medical reasons. Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to having extremely droopy lower eyelids, such as Cocker Spaniels, St Bernards, Bloodhounds and Bassets but can occur in any breed, this is called Ectropion. As you can imagine this causes the eye to become dry and the conjunctiva to become irritated due to constant exposure to the elements. Often the only symptoms are chronic conjunctivitis and excessive tearing. This can be treated medically with eye drops to help the conjunctivitis but as you can understand this is not a cure of the underlying problem and the drops will have to be given lifelong. Whereas surgery offers a permanent correction of the primary problem – the eyelid anatomy itself. The opposite condition, where the eyelid actually rolls in towards the eyeball known as Entropion, also occurs often in breeds like Pugs, Sharpeis, Chow chows and Boxers. This condition is often far more serious because the hairs on the eyelid constantly rub the cornea of the eye and can cause serious trauma to the eye which may even result in loss of the entire eye. Surgery is also necessary in this condition to correct the eyelid anatomy and prevent further damage to the eye. Another condition often requiring corrective surgery is nasal skin fold dermatitis, this is a common condition in short nose breeds like the Bulldog and Boston Terrier, where there is too much skin compared to the length of the bridge of the nose and that extra skin lies in folds over the nose. Because the skin is constantly folded up, the skin between the folds gets moist and hot and therefore becomes inflamed and irritated. You can try and treat this condition with various ointments and antibiotics but again the underlying anatomy is the primary problem and that can only be fixed with surgery.

Soft tissue surgery

We perform a wide range of soft tissue surgeries at our hospital from stitching closed minor lacerations and wounds right up to performing exploratory laparotomies. This is when we open the abdomen of an animal in order to try and determine what is wrong. It is therefore a diagnostic surgery but is often only done as a last resort when every other diagnostic tool (blood tests, radiographs and ultrasound) has been unhelpful. The surgeon will then put the animal under anaesthetic and open the abdomen to physical inspect every organ and try and see with their own eyes what might be the problem. Sometimes as part of this surgery, the vet will collect tiny samples of every organ in order to send them away for testing, also all in the attempt to try and make a diagnosis.

 

 

A note about fees: Please remember that procedures and tests carry a price tag. As valued client you will always be advised as to what the best diagnostic and therapeutic options are for your pet, but the final choice will lie with you as to what should be done. All hospitalized patients require a 60% deposit on admittion of the pet. Get more info on pet insurance HERE