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Open wound management in dogs and cats


Learn more about Penrose drains, tie over bandages, and what to use for wound lavage on this episode of The Vet Blast Podcast

Subscribe to The Vet Blast Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

As we enter the fall, pets will continue to play outside and jump into piles of leaves before the cold winter months. Although this can be fun, it is also dangerous if pet parents are not taking the right precautions. That one jump into a pile with an unknown stick can cause an open wound in your patient or that playful moment they had with the neighbor's dog could leave them with a deep wound bite and a trip to your veterinary clinic.

On this week's episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, our host, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, and Stephen J. Birchard, DVM, MS, DACVS, chat all things open wound management for dogs and cats, plus how evaluating your patients is a crucial step in making sure they are receiving the care their wounds need, externally and potentially, internally.

Below is a partial transcript. Listen to the full podcast for more.

Stephen J. Birchard, DVM, MS, DACVS: We do have a pretty standard protocol that we use [for treating contaminated or necrotic wounds]. Obviously, first of all, it's just a really good evaluation of the patient, and that evaluation depends a lot on where the wounds are. For example, if there are wounds on the leg, that's one thing. We want to make sure that there's no fractures or ligament and tendon injury. But if they're bite wounds over the chest or abdomen now we're concerned has there been internal damage done by the bites in the chest cavity. My gosh, I've seen so many dogs that as a result, again, probably a big dog, little dog situation. I don't want you to be afraid of your little guys, but anytime they go around a big dog, it's always something to think about. If they're in the chest, a lot of times the big dog has grabbed them on both sides of the chest with its mouth. I've seen so many with rib fractures, pneumothorax, and even damage to the lung requiring a thoracic surgery and lung lobectomy.

Now, that is kind of one of the worst-case scenarios, but another one would be abdominal penetration, where you've got injuries, the spleen, maybe the gastrointestinal tract. So, the first thing is really good evaluation that might include either radiographs or ultrasound, or maybe even both bloodwork and all that. Then just as you mentioned, really extensive clipping, that's such an important part and I think sometimes overlooked by all of us that especially when there's been trauma to both sides of the body.

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