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What are Puncture Wounds?

Bite wounds from other dogs make up about 10% of the trauma seen in veterinary clinics. Other reasons a dog may have a puncture wound are gunshots, arrow wounds, car accidents, falls, or getting punctured with sticks, metal or any other sharp object. Infection from the biting animal’s mouth, from your dog licking his wound, from the penetrating object, or from the environment can cause an abscess. While you can clean a wound at home, it is important to get your dog to a clinic to assess the severity of your dog’s injuries, and receive proper treatment.

Puncture wounds are any wounds that breaks through the skin and enter the body. In dogs, the most common puncture wound is caused by a bite by another dog or animal. Any kind of penetration carries a high risk of infection, and can be indicative of unseen internal damage.

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Puncture Wounds Average Cost

From 530 quotes ranging from $800 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Puncture Wounds in Dogs

Symptoms of puncture wounds include:

  • Punctured skin
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Redness of skin
  • Watery discharge
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Shock

You may see secondary symptoms if your dog’s wound has become infected, or an abscess has formed. These include: 

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Decreased movement
  • Discharge that is foul smelling, thick, bloody, or colored from wound
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decrease in thirst
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Causes of Puncture Wounds in Dogs

Causes of a penetrating wound include:

  • Bite from another dog or animal
  • A fall from a high place
  • Gunshot or arrow injury
  • Car accidents
  • Punctures from a sharp object, such as sticks, arrows or metal
  • Impalement on a sharp object
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Diagnosis of Puncture Wounds in Dogs

If you know what has caused the puncture wound in your dog, tell your veterinarian, as this can help determine treatment. Your veterinary caregiver will examine the wound, and assess the size, the kind of wound, and the degree of infection. Other tests may be utilized to determine the extent of any internal injuries. These can include X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, and blood and urine tests.

If the wound is on a leg, your dog cannot walk, or has a large amount of swelling, X-rays can help determine if there is a fracture. Gunshot wounds can have life-threatening complications if any vital organs were damaged, and will be thoroughly assessed.

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Treatment of Puncture Wounds in Dogs

While waiting for medical help, or a prognosis for a treatment plan, try to keep your dog from licking his wounds. Calm your dog as best you can, and try to prevent movement. Wrapping your dog in a blanket can help his body temperature from dropping, and can keep him calm. Try to stabilize any object that is still present in the wound, such as a stick or arrow. Do not try to pull out any foreign object, as it may make the situation worse. If the wound is in the chest, and you can hear sounds of sucking in the wound, cover it with plastic wrap.

At your veterinary clinic, sedation and pain medication may be given, often as an injection. Wounds are cleaned of any debris, and dead tissue is removed. All the hair near the wound will be clipped to prevent contamination.

Depending on the age and size of the wound, as well as the severity of infection, your veterinarian will choose to either leave the wound open or surgically close it. Small wounds may heal over on their own, while old or highly contaminated wounds may be left open at first and closed at a later date.

Surgical closure for more severe wounds may be done with sutures or staples. Drain tubes may be inserted in a closed wound to aid in drainage, especially if there is an abscess present.

If an abscess has formed, it will need to be surgically opened. Then, it will be cleaned and drained, and left to heal as an open wound to promote drainage and prevent further infection. There is a greater risk of an abscess forming in older or more contaminated wounds, or if there is a large open space under the wound after it has been closed.

Treatment for a bite wound on the leg can include splints, casts, and bandage changes. Antibiotics are almost always given, and anti-inflammatories and pain medications are prescribed as needed.

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Recovery of Puncture Wounds in Dogs

Your veterinarian will give you instructions for home care that usually include keeping the puncture wounds clean, and changing bandages. Bandages should be checked for blood, dirt, wetness and tightness. If drainage from the wound is clear, that is a good sign of healing. However, if drainage is thick, bloody, yellow or green, contact your veterinarian, as this means the wound is still infected. Leg bandages may need extra protection from becoming wet or dirty outside. 

Use only tap water or a warm saline solution to clean wounds. Do not use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, soaps, shampoos, oils, or herbal teas to clean the wound unless approved by your veterinarian. They can delay healing, or can be toxic if taken internally.

Antibiotics and pain medications may be prescribed, and need to be used as directed. Do not discontinue use of antibiotics early unless instructed by your veterinarian. Keep your dog from licking or chewing any wounds or bandages, and use an Elizabethan collar to help prevent that if needed.

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Puncture Wounds Average Cost

From 530 quotes ranging from $800 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Puncture Wounds Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Boston terrier mix

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scalp Feels Like Bubble Wrap Under Skin Where She Was Bitten By Another Dog

my dog was bitten by our neighbors dog. There is 2 puncture wounds from the dogs teeth in her scalp. Now her head feels like bubbles under the skin

Sept. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Kate D. MA VetMB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

Hello, Thanks for contacting us about your dog. I’m sorry to hear she got bitten. It sounds like the bite went all the way through the skin, and now some air has got in under the skin which is causing the bubble wrap feeling. The air in itself isn’t a major problem, but it does tell us that the bite went deep and that the bacteria from the other dog’s mouth might have gone into that space under the skin, where it can cause an infection. It is also not unusual for dog bite wounds to look worse 24-48 hours after the bite than they do at the time, because some of the damage isn’t obvious at the beginning. I would recommend taking her to a vet quite soon, because the faster you start cover for infection, the easier it will be to keep all that skin healthy. If you are not able to get to the vet within the next 3-6 hours, I’d recommend cleaning the area with warm salt water if she’ll let you. Please let me know if there is more I can help with.

Sept. 5, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Seven Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I have 2 GSDs. My 3 year old male bit my 7 month old female when they were fighting over a toy. As the day wears on, the area (the top of her right paw) is becoming slightly swollen, and she’s limping to the point of zero pressure.

Aug. 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Dog bite wounds can become infected quite quickly, and it is hard to say without seeing your puppy whether this is Trauma from pain, or if it is an infection. If it does not get better over 24 hours, and she is not putting more weight on it and acting more normally, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her, look at the wound, and see if she needs medications. I hope that all goes well for both of them.

Aug. 17, 2020

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Chihuahua / pug mix

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Small Puncture Wound From A Dig Bite

my dogs got into a scrap today and my small dog has a small puncture wound on her front leg on the top at the bend of her paw, its a little swollen and tender. It happend about 7 hrs ago.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Dog bite wounds can get infected very quickly, and it would be best to keep a very close eye on that. It may be fine and it may heal without any intervention, but if it continues to be swollen or she is not putting weight on it or it seems like it has an odor or discharge and is getting infected, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to look at it, see what medication she needs needs and get her antibiotic or pain medications if needed. I hope that all goes well for her

Aug. 8, 2020

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Boston Terrier / boxer

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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Dog Bite

my dog was attacked by my roommates dog tonight. she has several tiny punctures around her armpit and down her leg. she is limping but putting some weight on the leg. there was no significant bleeding but any bite mark is concerning. should i continue to treat with hydrogen peroxide and monitor her behavior or should i seek immediate vet care? the bites aren’t massive but i don’t want them to lead to problems in the future

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, yes. Dog bite wounds can get infected quite quickly, and she likely needs antibiotics and pain control. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Boxer

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping Front Paw

Single puncture mark on side of paw, limping and kicking the front leg back when standing otherwise still, yelps when touched

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It may just be a short-term problem, and your dog may be fine. If the limping and yelping continues over 24 hours, then it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to look at the wound, see what might be going on, and get treatment. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Mollie

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Beagle

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Shallow Rapid Breathing
Pain
Bleeding
Wound
Sad
Anxiety

My fiance's pit/Mastiff bit my beagle this morning. She has a laceration where I can see the flesh of her mouth. I am not sure if it went all the way through... But he is in massive discomfort and cannot really get settled. I am calming her, and cleaned the cut with hydrogen peroxide. I also gave her a non-drowsy allergy pill to try and calm her. She is trying to sleep, but wakes up and moans a bit with a mouth movement of pain. What can I give her for pain? She will not allow me to get inside the mouth to see if it went all the way through.... But I did see some blood on the inside . Just a little. She did let me clean it.... I'm just scared.. this has NEVER happened before. I love my baby. The vets are closed and I work night shift law enforcement. What can I do to ensure she will be okay?

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Leo

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Chihuahua

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Depressed
Decreased Thirst
Decreased Hunger

My chihuahua got attacked by 2 bigger German shepherds and has a pretty big bite wound on his leg and the wound goes more than just over the superficial layer he has teeth marks where the dogs dug their teeth and ripped off chunks of his fur. this happened today at around 12 and the vets are closed what can i do to avoid infection and how to clean the wound or what to do to try and help my dog.

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Freja

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Shih Tzu

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking

I have a small 14lb shih tzu and she’s very aggressive towards other dogs. We were out in the yard without a leash the other day and before I could even process what was going on, she instigated an altercation with a medium dog on a walk. This dog seemed to have hold of her ear and would initially not let go but his owner did what he needed to do and slapped the dog into letting go. Afterward, my dog was very shakey and her hair was very matted. I was able to move her hair aside and see her ear and I checked the inside as well, so I performed this inspection every hour. She let me touch her ear and it was mildly sensitive (but it seemed more like she was just traumatized about her ear being grabbed), and I saw no evidence of blood, swelling, or discharge. When I moved the hair around on the top of her ear, I saw no evidence of any lacerations or puncture wounds. This morning I gave her a warm oatmeal bath and was able to gently brush out a lot of the matting, and I saw some dry skin (she has a very very long history of chronically dry skin) but still no puncture, laceration, blood, swelling, or discharge. She also is no longer sensitive about the ear and I have not noticed any refusal of water or food. Do I need to bring her to the vet anyway? Through all of my observations she seems fine. Ordinarily I would just take her in anyway, but I’ve already spent $1000 at the vet this week because she had some eye issues that have since been resolved. Of course, if she needs to be taken in anyway, I absolutely will bring her to our nearest emergency veterinarian.

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Mama's

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Pit bull mix

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7 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

One Puncture Wound

Is it possible for a dog bite on the throat of another dog to leave only one puncture wound? Shouldn't a bite of that calamity leave more puncture wounds than just one under the throat what about on the neck? I ask because my dog was accused of biting another dog,but nobody saw it happen.

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Kiah

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Husky

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

My dog was attacked by my other dog while I was in the kitchen. I had to break up the fight and pull her off of my other dog. She got a hold of her stomach and my dog ended up with 4 bite marks on her tummy/chest area. We went to the vet clinic and was told she might need an xray and a drainage - which i cant afford financially at this time. So i opted to go home with antibiotic and cream. Her chest/abdomen is swollen and she cannot lay down because she's in pain. She has a cone on so she won't be able to lick her wounds. The wounds itself is not deep nor big but the vet is afraid of a hernia or a internal issue. I just don't know if they're trying to take my money or not. I gave her water and a couple bites of her dog food and she ate it. I don't know if swelling is normal and I'm just worried and can't stop crying

Puncture Wounds Average Cost

From 530 quotes ranging from $800 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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