Gunshot Injury in Dogs

Gunshot Injury in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Bleeding / Destructive / Wound

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Rated as moderate conditon

16 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Bleeding / Destructive / Wound

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Gunshot Injury in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Gunshot Injury?

A gunshot injury can all look very different depending on the type of gun used to injury your dog. You may notice anything from slight bleeding to a full wound with entrance and exit obvious.  Your dog can present with pain, discomfort, disorientation, and crying or may not present with any symptoms at all depending on the severity of his injury. Most likely the gunshot injury will not resemble any other injury or concerns.

A gunshot injury would be defined as any injury your dog receives from a gun. This could be an injury to any of his body parts and can result in mild to severe damage.

Symptoms of Gunshot Injury in Dogs

Symptoms can vary greatly for a gunshot injury based on what type of gun was used, bullets, and distance. However, some symptoms to look for are:

  • Minimal noticeable damage – Most of the damage due to the gunshot will not be seen by you, this is due to the bullet pulling debris, hair, skin, dirt and more into the wound with it
  • Bleeding – You may notice very little to a large amount of bleeding from your dog at the site of the wound
  • Bullet wound – At times the actual wound is visible and you may even be able to see the bullet
  • Lacerations – You may only notice cuts or scrapes along your dog’s skin and fur

Causes of Gunshot Injury in Dogs

The cause of your dog being injured by gunshot can vary. Some of the ways your dog can be shot are:

  • Self-defense – Someone may believe your dog is a threat to them if he got loose or chased them and they may use a gun to protect themselves
  • Accident – Your dog may unfortunately be in the wrong place, wrong time and have been caught up in gunfire; if your dog goes out hunting with you or was loose while others are hunting, he may have been injured by accident
  • Random acts – There are times when there is no reason or cause for your dog’s injury

Diagnosis of Gunshot Injury in Dogs

While you may be able to identify that your dog was in fact shot at, you will not necessarily be able to determine the extent of the damage done when he was shot. If you suspect your dog was injured by gunfire it will be very important to bring him to the veterinarian immediately.

Some information that will best help your veterinarian diagnose and treat him correctly will be if you know what type of gun he was shot with, if you have a sample of the type of bullet, and the distance your dog was from the gun. It will also be important to share with your veterinarian if you know for a fact that your dog was injured via gunfire or if you suspect it.

Your veterinarian will want to perform a few tests to ensure he is completely aware of the entire situation. A full physical examination will be done on your dog to see any concerns that your veterinarian may notice without further testing. Once our dog has been put under anesthesia your veterinarian may want to explore the wound to see any further damage that he was unable to determine by physical exam. 

A culture may be taken from the wound as well to identify what, if any infections may be a concern.  X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and more imaging techniques may be used to see underlying and deep tissues damage, these imaging tools may also be used to see any broken bones or other injuries. These tests will be performed under anesthesia typically to ensure the safety of your dog and the veterinarian.

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Treatment of Gunshot Injury in Dogs

Treatment will be broken up into stabilization, cleaning of the wounds, and deeper wound treatment. Initially the veterinarian’s main concern will be stabilizing your dog and ensuring he is safe to move forward with treatment. Once he is stable the team will move on to cleaning his wound and finally to determining how to treat his deeper injuries. 

Stabilization

The goal here is to ensure your dog’s immediate safety. This may be stopping blood loss, lowering high heart rate, and getting him comfortable. This may be achieved via medications for pain management or putting him under anesthesia to be able to move on to the next steps in treatment. 

Wound treatment

Once your dog is stabilized, the next step will be to treat the wound superficially. This will be done by cleaning the area surrounding the wound and treating any injuries there. Once this is done the hair around the gun wound may be trimmed to ensure full access to the site. The wound itself will then be cleaned and any debris removed including hair, dirt, skin, bullet or bullet fragments. 

The wound to outside of your dog’s body will most likely be left open as it will heal better this way and allows for unhealthy tissue to be removed. Drains may be used if needed to allow the wound to continue healing. Because bullets drag outside contamination into your dog’s body, it is very important to get it cleaned as soon as possible and continue applying any dressings to the area as recommended by your veterinarian. 

Deeper treatment

Just because an entrance would appear small or the bullet completely exited your dog’s body does not mean there wasn’t any internal damage. Your dog’s internal organs can be injured, there may be bullet fragments or pellets deeper in his body that can become infected, and there may even be broken bones.

In the event these things happen your veterinarian will treat each issue as needed, some of which include surgery to remove any dead or severely damaged tissues or bullets. Setting bones may be necessary as well. 

Lastly, your dog will be given a course of antibiotics as gunshot wounds are considered contaminated no matter how “clean” they are. Euthanizing is rarely necessary and if the wound did not cause a fracture, treatment is kept conservative. Less aggressive measures are used if your veterinarian can access the bullets to remove them easily.

Recovery of Gunshot Injury in Dogs

Your dog’s recovery time will vary depending on the severity of his injuries. If no surgery was required, he will have a much quicker recovery versus invasive surgery. Gunshot wounds have a good prognosis if treatment is done in a timely manner. Depending on where your dog’s injuries are will also play a role in his recovery. If he is injured in his stomach or back, recovery may take longer or be more difficult. However, if his injuries are in his limbs or chest area the recovery will most likely be easier for him.

Your veterinarian will direct you on any necessary changes to his immediate needs such as dressing changes, medication management, restrictions and more. Follow up with the veterinarian will largely depend on treatment administered to him and will be discussed with you at the time of services.

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Gunshot Injury Average Cost

From 263 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Gunshot Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Audi

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Cane Corso

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9 Months

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Minimal Pain

Hi! Audi was shot in her front leg. It was clear in/out shot. She doesn’t appear to experience any extreme pain. She is limping of course but no other signs. She was bleeding but not for too long and did not lose much blood. We cleaned her wound, no more bleeding, and she’s resting now. Should we be concerned about any long term damage?

Aug. 22, 2018

Audi's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should get Audi checked by your Veterinarian to ensure that the wound is not going to cause any issues and will heal well; some gunshot wounds don’t heal easily due to damage of the tissue on the wound margin as well as secondary infection being a concern. Depending on where on the leg was shot, we also need to consider nerve damage and other injuries. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 22, 2018

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Nala

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Boxer pit bull

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1 Year

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Calm Responsiveeating
Calm Responsive ,Eating

My dog appears to have been shot her upper front leg the muscle area. I don't see an exit there is a small dime sized hole it is no longer bleeding but she getsup to eat n drink. I HV no funds I can't take her to a vet.I cleaned the wound with peroxide what can Ido to ensure shes going to be ok? She is 1/12 yrs old. Shes a boxer pit mix laying down, seems OKcalm.

Aug. 4, 2018

Nala's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It would be advisable to find a charity clinic or other organisation to examine Nala to be on the safe side. Take care since peroxide damages capillaries and slows down the healing process but if there is a wound the size of a dime (0.7in or 18mm) in diameter it may need to be sutured closed regardless. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 4, 2018

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Sam

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German Shepherd Dog

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Seven Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pain

Hello! Once again, I'm an author, and had a previous question answered, but another has emerged, as they so often do. Sam was shot in the shoulder, and the bullet ended up in a muscle. He went untreated for about ten days, and traveled for the majority of that time. As he didn't become septic, how long would treatment last, if it was possible?

July 11, 2018

Sam's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm not sure how to answer that question, as the treatment wound depend on the damage inflicted. If there was no long term tendon or ligament damage, and all he needed was wound debridement and antibiotics, he would most likely be healed in two weeks.

July 11, 2018

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Sam

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German Shepherd

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7 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Bleeding
Crying

Hey there! I'm an author and one of the characters in my story is a dog. As a stray he suffers from untreated seizures, and he was recently shot. In order for him to survive at least a week without veterinary care, where would the ideal place for the bullet to enter be? Would his seizures constantly reopen the wound? Would the injury and ensuing internal damage make his already progressing seizures worse? Thank you!

July 2, 2018

Sam's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Sam were shot and the bullet ended up in a muscle, he would be able to survive for a week as long as he didn't become septic with infection. The seizures would likely not affect the wound, but he would be painful for sure.

July 3, 2018

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Roxy

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pit bull terrier

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2 Years

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted

My dog was shot 36 hrs ago , she's been drinking and eating but I don't wanna give to much because she can't walk, she hasn't pottied at all. Will she eventually just go ? Also she's has use of everything , very responsive , but can't walk . The bullet is about 2 " from her spine , little blood at first but that's all . Will she walk again

June 29, 2018

Roxy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I don't have any way of knowing if Roxy will walk again without seeing her. She should see a veterinarian right away if she was shot by a gun and isn't using the bathroom or walking.

June 30, 2018

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Khaleesi

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Dogo Argentino

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2 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Broken Or Dislocated Hip

My female Dogo Argentino was shot by our neighbor because she was out of our yard and went into theirs. Now, she won't walk on her back leg and she doesn't walk much. I'm getting worried because it's been eleven days. And We can't afford a visit to the vet. Is there anything we can do?

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D.j

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Lab mix

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9 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Breaths Faster At Rest

My dog, D.j was just shot a while ago. My lil brother say we was pricked by some briars. But the wound on her stomach says otherwise. I am the only one taking care of her, my mom is at work my dad went for a ride in his truck. She just sat up and I don't know what to do.

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D.j

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Labrador

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9 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

My dog, D.j was shot with what looks like a pellet gun. She has been slightly bleeding from a small wound in her stomach. She has been laying down in my room for a while. She's a Labrador mix it looks like.

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Thor

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Mountain Cur

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1 Year

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

My dog was shot today back leg on the inside. No blood. I know he is hurting. There is no exit site. I can't afford to pay for a vet visit. I have given him Tylenol. And I had some left over antibiotics I gave him one of those. He is my baby I'm very worried. I can't see anything in his leg but I have lightly rubbed around on his leg and don't feel anything odd. He walks but just with a slight limp. He is drinking and eating. He went to sleep after giving him the medicine. Should I wrap the site or leave open?

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Cash

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Chow Chow Blue Pitbull Mix

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3 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

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Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Walking Tenderly
Barely Eating
Popped Eye
Sunken Face
Sleeping Heavily
Runny Bloody Eye

My dog roams between my house and my mother-in-law's. Came home last night and realized he was shot in the neck area. When I woke up this morning his eye had looked like it was popped and his face swelling shifted. He won't eat and no vets were open today to bring him, even as an emergency. It's Christmas Eve and I don't wanna lose my dog. Also carecredit wouldn't accept my application.

Gunshot Injury Average Cost

From 263 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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