The first response and action in the face of this type of event should be to contact the veterinarian, after agreeing on the situation with the owner of the dog that has bitten ours.
It is a very common emergency in veterinary centers and always requires special attention because depending on the severity of the attack, you will need one treatment or another. From ScoobyDog we tell you in detail what to do if our dog is bitten.
Bites and gravity
Each bite is a different case depending on the severity (depth and extent) and the bite area. However, they all have one characteristic in common, and that is that the mouth (and more specifically the saliva) of dogs, like that of humans, is full of bacteria .
The bacteria most commonly found in canine saliva are Actinomyces, Streptococcus, and Granulicatella species, among others. In addition, dog teeth usually have some degree of plaque . Plaque develops from saliva, bacteria, cells in the mouth, and food waste.
All this set is solidly accumulated on the enamel of the teeth or external face of the same, predisposing in case of a bite to another dog, that the determined area becomes infected .
Given the information in the previous section, a bite in most cases (depending on its severity) will tend to become infected if we do not go or need veterinary medical attention.
However, depending on the severity of each bite, the treatment and prognosis will be different, being worse or more reserved in serious bites or serious fights between dogs .
We will then have a wide variety of range and bite cases according to the veterinary and emergency clinical experience that I have. Next, I will emphasize the different possible cases from the mildest to the most serious.
- The lightest bites will be small fangs that barely penetrate the skin, or have simply brushed it, producing a small superficial wound.
- Next, the fangs will go through the skin and the subcutaneous layer without going through the muscle.
- The next case could be bites that go through the musculature , so they will be a few centimeters deep and in diameter. The recovery of these will be longer -than in the previous cases.
- Finally, we could include the bites that have torn and pierced the muscles . They are usually several centimeters in diameter and can affect large areas, and tissues may have to be surgically reconstructed. It will affect several areas most of the time and the prognosis will be more reserved than the previous cases.
In this last group we can include not only dog bites in a serious fight, but also altercations with wild animals such as wild boars, for which they will need hospitalization . Recovery will obviously be much slower and you will have to be especially careful and follow the treatment very well.
Symptoms, therefore, in the first case, we can observe bleeding or already coagulated superficial wounds with possible small fangs. These will be rounded in most cases. We will observe the swollen and congestive (red) edges of the wound.
If they have gone through the skin, and not the muscle, what will be seen a centimeter or so deep in the wound is the muscle. This one looks like a thick deep red coat . If they have crossed this, we will see a tear or fissure in the muscle itself.
Fights with wild animals, almost uncommon in urbanized areas, tend to have fatal outcomes. The wounds can range from deep goring or fangs to tears in the skin, muscle and possibly internal organs, which will greatly worsen the prognosis. The lives of these animals are in serious danger.
Therefore, the symptoms will vary depending on the severity . The most common being pain (possible crying) in the affected area, inflammation, heat and edema. If it seriously affects the extremities, we will see a limp. We can observe decay, apathy and weakness.
If a relatively serious wound is left and becomes chronic, it is most likely that due to the aforementioned bacteria, it will become infected. We can find pus in the form of abscesses and granulomas.
It is important to establish prompt treatment. This means that as soon as the event occurs, and we give us the data with the opposite owner if applicable, we must go to a veterinarian. This is because the longer we wait, the more likely it is that the tissues will become infected or necrotic (it depends on its severity).
The veterinarian must assess the appropriate treatment for each case, depending on the severity, affected areas, size and weight of the animal. Similar injuries will not be the same in a Chihuahua as in a Labrador, for example.
However, all the biting cases described above will have common daily patterns. These will be: cleaning with crystalline, anti-inflammatories such as meloxicam, omeprazole to protect the stomach from the anti-inflammatory and Elizabethan collar or bell to prevent our pet from licking the wounds, which could infect them.
Regarding the first case in which the wound is superficial and does not go through the skin, the treatment other than that described will not require antibiotic therapy , and in a matter of a few days the animal will be recovered. The remaining cases will need systemic antibiotic therapy for several days and possibly weeks, as the risk of infection is high.
If you have penetrated the skin of another animal’s teeth in millimeters to a few centimeters, you will need a method of approximating the tissues with medical instruments such as surgical staples or sutures. The use of these materials in bite wounds is controversial among veterinary surgeons, since, depending on the size of the bite, if you closed it completely, an abscess could form, since there would be no drainage.
That is why the vet will have to evaluate each case separately . If you put staples, depending on the size of the wound, you should leave some space for it to drain every day with cleaning the dirt that it has or we remove.
In wounds that affect the muscle, it will also be necessary to suture part of them, however, depending on the diameter of the involvement, they will need some type of drainage. Most of the time, passive drainage (rubber tube with micropores) is used to cleanse the wound of bacteria that can reproduce.
In the case of very serious wounds or those carried out by wild animals, they will need hospitalization to provide intravenous fluids and medication. The prognosis of these patients will be very reserved.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology and own emergency clinical experience.