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What are Internal Injuries?

An open wound is easier to deal with because it is visible and the solution is relatively straightforward for your veterinarian to determine. But internal injuries are harder to deal with, and internal bleeding caused either by a car accident, a fall from a high vantage point, fighting, or disease can produce severe trauma to your dog’s body and they may go into shock.

If you know the cause of your dog’s distress it will be quicker to diagnose and treat, but no matter what the cause your dog needs veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Internal injuries may come from your dog being hit by a car causing trauma, due to dog fights, or additionally, some diseases cause internal bleeding and injury.

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Symptoms of Internal Injuries in Dogs

  • Early symptoms can be a rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing 
  • Depression 
  • Black diarrhea
  • Gum change in colors – pale or blue is very serious
  • Your dog may go into a coma indicating shock 
  • Whimpering on being touched or moved
  • Glazed eyes
  • Inability to focus
  • Coughing or vomiting up blood 
  • Bruising or scrape wounds 
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy 
  • Heart attack 

Types

 

  • Sudden trauma can cause internal injuries; contact with a moving vehicle, falls, dog fights and sadly, human abuse can all cause internal injury within your dog. 
  • Trauma can cause damages to the internal organs, broken bones including the neck and spine, and internal bleeding that can cause your pet to go into shock 
  • Apart from trauma, there are varying types of medical conditions such as a tumor, or damages to the spleen (common in older dogs) that can cause internal injury 
  • Poisons are also known to cause types of internal damage and internal bleeding
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Causes of Internal Injuries in Dogs

  • Falls off a deck or balcony – dogs are not as flexible as cats and can suffer internal damages during falls from high elevations; this is becoming more common as more people and their dogs live in high-rise apartments 
  • Poisons like rat bait or human medications contain anticoagulants that prevent the blood from clotting which can cause internal damages and bleeding 
  • Fractures of bones -  for example the spine, that can cause damage to internal organs 

  • Tumors of the spleen or other areas can cause internal bleeding 
  • Trauma – your dog gets hit violently by a vehicle in an accident 
  • Lacerations of the kidney, spleen or liver are quite common 
  • Attack from another dog or dogs 
  • Abuse by humans
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Diagnosis of Internal Injuries in Dogs

If your dog has been hit by a vehicle or fallen from a height, you need to get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Using an old door or a plank makes an ideal platform to maneuver your dog onto and offers support while being transported to the clinic. If your dog doesn’t want to be moved, you may need your dog sedated to enable moving him to the clinic. If you know the cause of your dog’s situation then that will help your veterinarian to diagnose what is wrong. Whether it was a physical injury, or caused by ingesting a poisonous substance, or some other cause, at least that will give your pet specialist something to start on immediately. 

A thorough physical examination will be done unless your dog is in urgent need of life giving support first. If your dog is going into shock, immediate action will be taken by your veterinarian to avoid damages to the internal organs. Depending on your pet’s situation, diagnostic tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), X-rays, abdominal radiographs, electrocardiogram (EKG) and a serum chemistry profile. While broken bones are obvious signs of trauma, it is the internal damage that is vital to determine. Bleeding internally from punctured organs needs urgent attention.

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Treatment of Internal Injuries in Dogs

The treatment will depend on the cause of the injury. Trauma via vehicle injuries may require that your dog is hospitalised, especially at the beginning of treatment. Oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids may be required. Medication for any pain will help and your specialist may recommend a course of antibiotics. Your dog may also need antiarrhythmic drugs if his heart is beating erratically which is a symptom of stress and trauma. Other treatment may require blood transfusions if your pet has lost a lot of blood. 

Surgery may be required in the case of disease (cancer and tumors), broken bones (especially spinal bones or neck bones) and other injuries that your dog may have. Poisons need careful attention to remove or limit the amount of damage that they can do to your dog’s system. Your veterinarian will be able to advise on the correct treatment from the results of the diagnostic tests. The first few days are the most crucial, and your specialist may keep your dog in hospital until he is confident that the treatment is working.

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Recovery of Internal Injuries in Dogs

Your pet will be limited to rest and recovery with exercise restrictions during the first few weeks of rehabilitation from his accident or illness. If the damage has been extensive, your pet may be restricted to a cage to prevent too much movement. Any bandages must be kept clean and dry. Wounds should be checked for redness, swelling or discharge material. Internal injuries may restrict the diet; soft easy to digest food is best. 

If your pet has suffered external wounds as well, they may have stitches and you need to ensure your pet will not annoy them and damage themselves. Poison victims may feel quite low for a few weeks but hopefully if they haven’t suffered too much due to the internal injuries they will bounce back after a short time. Always follow your veterinarian’s advice and treatment guidelines to enable your pet to heal quicker.

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Internal Injuries Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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American Bully

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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Hip Soreness

I took my dog out and realized she had dry blood On her hip. I go to look in her wooden cage and there is a massive amount of blood in the top of her cage and the sides, but higher than she is in height. There is no wound or scratch on her hip or anywhere else on her body. No other blood either. It splattered out onto the walls as well. Any advice or option is appreciated

Sept. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. That sounds like quite a bit of blood, and it is strange that you can't find where it came from. The only thing that I would think about it be that it was internal, whether she vomited or had diarrhea or was bleeding from her vulva. This seems like something that you may want to have seen by a veterinarian, as it is difficult for me to say without being able to see her where the blood is coming from. If she is acting normally otherwise, you may be able to watch her and see if you are able to localize the problem, but otherwise I think having or seen by a veterinarian would probably be the best idea. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Sept. 7, 2020

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Pembroke Welsh Corgi

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My four year old corgi Joey was trying to bite a baby bunny this evening and I pulled him away then pushed him in the side with my foot to back him up. Now he is trying to stay away from me and I feel terrible but I didn’t want him to eat the bunny so I reacted like that immediately. Do you think he is okay? And maybe just upset? Also his whites of his eyes are kind of red at the moment.

Aug. 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm sure that you didn't mean to hurt Joey, and that sounds like a normal reaction. If he continues to act strangely around you, or seems in pain, or his eyes continue to be red, then it may be a good idea to have him seen by your veterinarian to make sure that he is okay. I hope he feels better soon!

Aug. 21, 2020

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Mix

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1 year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hit By Car

He falls back down when standing

Aug. 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, SO sorry to hear about your dog. If he was hit by a car he needs vet attention right away. It sounds like he has a lot of internal injuries that need to be seen by a vet. Good Luck.

Aug. 12, 2020

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Morkie

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tiredness

My daughter was holding my puppy up to her face and when she began to bring him down he fell out of her hands . She’s about 4 feet tall. He instantly starting yelping and ran under a couch . Once consoled he began playing with my cat , and went out for a walk he seemed fine . Now he seems like really tired and not his usual self , I felt around his legs , chest , stomach and head to see if it bothered him but nothing seemed to hurt . I’m not sure if I’m overacting or if he is hurt internally .

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It sounds, from your description, like he may be fine. If you notice that he is painful, or having difficulty urinating or difficulty breathing, then I would probably have him seen by a veterinarian right away. If he continues to play and walk normally and just seems a little quiet, he may be okay. I hope that all goes well with him.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting Blood

Karu 2nd August 2. Fell from around 4.5ft height at 2 pm yesterday , He cried a lot 3. First vomit of mangoes at 5 pm yesterday 4. He is shivering , after vomiting 5. vomited 5 time since 1 am midnight . Also vomited in the morning .Vomit is white foam . Also cried while he vomited for the first time at night . 7. We feel he has got a swollen left side tummy and a bit of swelling in the head. 8. He seems a little feverish as well. 3rd August 1. Black poop - 2 2. 1st vomit in the evening was a little pink 3. 2nd vomit in the mid

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I appreciate your documentation, and what it tells me is that your dog needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. There may have been some Trauma from the fall, or from the mangoes, I'm not sure. His ongoing vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy are concerning. He needs to see a veterinarian. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him. I hope he is okay.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Papito

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Silky Terrier

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17 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Vommit

Good evening, I don't know what to do in this matter with the stay in place stressed upon us state wide. With staying home all day we as a family decided to get out the house (backyard) and get some sun. We had a BBQ on the back deck. My dog, of course, joined the family. He is blind and for his age of about 17 human years, is in good health. He is a blind silky terrier. though he usually stays by me, he decided to roam the deck (about 2-3 flights in height), but fit through the bars and fell. typing this i want to cry for him. this took place Sunday late evening. I ran to him. He stood, shaking tremendously. I gave him a warm calming bath to relax him and have the moment to feel around for anything broken. I'm not a vet but he showed no signs of pain; just shock. I felt everything in tact. I've just try to have him rest for the last couple of days. Today, Monday evening he was walking around, tail up, much better with a slight difference in his step. My only concern is, he isn't eating a lot but, still eating some. though he seems to be throwing up a lot. There hasn't been a change in diet. Defecation seems ok (a bit small)and urine appears normal. Again, I'm not a vet. Any suggestions? Again, 17 yr/old silky terrier fell from 2-3 flight back deck. No bleeding and everything appears in tact. Only concern is the vomit. Its often and appears to me to be more than what he is consuming. Keep in mind, stay in place is in action due to Covid-19. Please reply to me at m.west84@ymail.com ASAP. I would really appreciate it. thank you for your time.

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Lily

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Australian Shepherd

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8 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Extreme Weight Loss
Extreme Loss Of Appetite
Isolation
Deceased
Blood Shot Eyes
Heavy Sleeping

Over the period of about a month, Lily, now deceased, a close friend of mines dog, lost 22 pounds, would not eat, would drink in excess when she did drink, stayed sleeping In isolation in the back room of the home, and towards the end had a horrible odor, she was not fixed and she was 8 or 9 years old. There were people staying with him around the time that the problems first started that ended badly. He had five dogs, now four, and Lily was his favorite and he had her the longest of all of them. I want to believe it was an autoimmune disease or anything but what I am obviously considering strongly to be an option but the blood test that his vet for results from was returned inconclusive. Please give me your honest opinion on this because I believe his vet did not.

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Masa

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Doberman Pinscher

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shallow Rapid Breathing
Dry Heaving
Pale Pink Gums

Last month our dog was vomiting and dry heaving. The vet gave a shot to stop the vomiting and prescribed an antacid, they thought it was simply acid reflux, no other tests were done and he appeared to recover. Now a month later it began again, so I did same thing the vet did minus the shot. I gave him antacids. Now 3 days later he is still dry heaving but now he is refusing to eat and barely drinking water. He is breathing quick and shallow, drooling and there appears to be pink in his drool. His gums also seem less pink than usual. We literally cannot afford to take him for more tests, we have no credit card and our bank account is nearly overdrawn so we have no idea how we can help him.

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Sam

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Standard Dachshund

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Black Diarrhea
Not Eating Or Drinking

I have a question. My long-haired doxie ran away early morning (2am) and did not return until 3:45pm. He is extremely lethargic. He will not eat or drink. I took him a cool bath. He just laid there. I dont know if he got heat stroke, hit by a car, or ate something he wasn't supposed to. We live out in the country so being bit by a snake or something is possible. However, I didn't see anything when I looked him over.

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Pepper

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Maltese poodle

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8 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Ribs
Broken Ribs Punctured Lung
Broken Ribs Lung Puncture

I know this post is older, but I am really looking for closure. I had an adorable maltese mix named Pepper. He was always very healthy at his vet wellness checks. I was working one evening and I get a dreaded call from my partner, He said my dog was in bad shape, I said what happened? He told me he found my dog under our shed hiding and wimpering. I closed the store and rushed home to find my dog laying down, breathing heavy, rapidly gasping for air like the life was running out of him. I was in shock. I immediately phoned around for a 24 hr vet hospital since it was a Saturday night. My partner had cleaned him up, said he was bloody like he had been in a fight. I got to the vet hospital, and they took one look at him and asked if I wanted to order x-rays. I confirmed yes. His ribs were broken in two spots, almost like a 's' shape but no spinal damage which gave the vet hope. She had to stick a pin in his lungs for some reason I can't remember. It helped his breathing. He stayed in the vet hospital that night and through the morning when they released him. (Pepp was 11 pounds. Next vet visit he was 7.He seemed like he lost certain cognitive abilities. He wasn't the same dog.) He was ordered to stay in his crate and only get up to go potty, which I had to hold him up to potty and it broke my heart even more. I asked the vet what they think happened. They said probably a coyote attack. Would 9 broken ribs, a lung tear and a gash on his head be an attack or something else? He seemed to be getting better. attack was sept 30th 2017. He had regular bowel movements and still had an appetite. I got up one mng & to my horror he was gone. I suspect it was a seizure or clot or was it something else? He passed on Jan 4th 2018. Part of me died that day. I know I did all I could but I'm just looking for an explanation that my vet couldn't give me. They said it could have been a complication. My dog was almost 8 1/2. A rescue and my best friend. Im still not over what happened to him. I don't know if it really was a cyote, if The attack may have happened in our own yard? by the description of his initial injuries, is it more of a big dog/cyote attack or does it sound more of domestic issue that could have been inflicted by a man or vehicle?

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