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What is Perforated Wound?

Perforated wounds in dogs can be a very serious condition.  If your dog has been injured by a person or by another animal, he must be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Dogs that are experiencing symptoms such as head shaking, blindness, lack of coordination, squinting, or rapid eye movement, he must be evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.   Time is of the essence with wound perforations. Weakness, bleeding, and listlessness may occur.   The sooner your dog is on a treatment plan the better his recovery prognosis will be.

A perforated wound is a hole or break that can occur to the body, its organs or organ membrane.  Perforated wounds may be the result of blunt trauma, infection, puncture or erosion.

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Symptoms of Perforated Wound in Dogs

Eardrum Perforation

  • Shaking of the head
  • Whimpers when the ear is touched
  • Ear discharge that is pus-like with or without blood
  • Facial paralysis on the side of the ear rupture
  • Incoordination
  • Walking in circles
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Hearing loss

Cornea Ulcer Perforation

  • Discoloration of the cornea
  • Pain
  • Squinting
  • Eye tearing
  • Redness
  • Cloudy eye surface
  • Blood in eye
  • Iris adheres to the cornea
  • Aqueous humor leakage 
  • Collapse of the anterior chamber
  • Blindness

Wound Perforation from Animal Bites

  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Limping
  • Weakness
  • Panting
  • Secondary infection

Stomach Perforation

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to defecate
  • Listlessness
  • No appetite
  • Pain
  • Whining
  • Panting
  • Septic peritonitis
  • Collapse
  • Shock

Causes of Perforated Wound in Dogs

Eardrum perforation can be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Middle ear infection
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Severe changes in atmospheric pressure
  • Extremely loud noises
  • Foreign objects

Corneal perforation may be caused by:

  • Diseases that cause the cornea layer to thin ( keratoconus)
  • Bacterial or fungal infection
  • Trauma
  • Ulcers

Wound perforation from animal bites may result due to:

  • Illegal dog fights
  • Dog fights due to food aggression, fear, protective or dominance
  • Wild animal bite (raccoons, coyote, possum, feral cats)

Stomach perforation can occur due to:

  • Abdominal obstruction - Dog ingested an inedible object that can perforate the abdomen (bone fragment, metal, toys, rocks, plastic, wood chips or sticks)  
  • Stabbing
  • Gunshot njury with bullets or pellets

Diagnosis of Perforated Wound in Dogs

The veterinarian will want to know the timeline of the event.  Please let the veterinarian know if your dog was involved in a dog fight or was a victim of animal abuse. The veterinarian team may need to stabilize the patient prior to diagnosing.  Your dog’s vitals will be taken and an IV may be started to help keep him hydrated. If the patient is in pain the veterinarian may administer a pain medication and a sedative. Once your canine is stabilized a thorough physical exam will be performed. 

The doctor may recommend a few diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), x-rays, CT scan, MRI and an ultrasound.  In the event that the veterinarian suspects an eardrum perforation, he may infuse a special dye and fluorescein stain into the ear.  If the eardrum is perforated, the dye and fluorescein will leak out through the nostrils.

The Seidel test can help determine if there is an aqueous leak. The test uses a fluorescein dye strip that is wiped over the eye.  If the strip turns yellow; there is an aqueous leak. A positive Seidel test confirms that there is a perforation.

Treatment of Perforated Wound in Dogs

The treatment of a perforated wound will depend on the veterinarian diagnosis. A patient with an eardrum perforation may have a medicated ear flushing.  The procedure is done under general anesthesia. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and antifungal medications. Some patients may require surgery.

Dogs with perforated corneas may be prescribed anti-inflammatory, topical and oral antibiotic medications.  Atropine drops may be prescribed to help relieve the pain.  A soft lens is sometimes recommended to help protect the eye.  Corrective surgery may be necessary.

Wound perforations due to animal bites may need surgery and sutures to repair the lacerations. The patient will be prescribed antibiotics and pain medications.  Some patients may require a tubal drain system depending on the size and location of the wound.  It is important to determine when your dog had his last rabies vaccinations.  Many wild animals have rabies, which is transmitted through a bite wound.

If the abdomen is perforated it can leak harmful bacteria and chemicals into the body.  The patient will need to undergo surgery to repair the damage. Your dog may need to remain hospitalized for a few days.  Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and pain medications will be administered via the IV.

Recovery of Perforated Wound in Dogs

Patients that undergo surgery will receive post-operative instructions from the veterinary surgical team.  The dog will have to wear an E-collar until his sutures are removed.  The incision area will need to be kept clean and dry. Exercise and activities may be restricted for a few weeks. Follow up visits will be necessary to monitor the patient’s progress. It is important to follow the treatment plan for your dog.  

Some perforated wounds may be prevented from occurring again. Ear infections and corneal ulcers should be diagnosed and treated before they perforate. Dogs should be supervised when they are outside.  Dogs that are left outside for prolonged, unsupervised periods of time may become victims of wild animals or animal abuse.  They can also become bored and ingest inedible objects in the yard.