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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

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Average Cost

$1,500

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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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Maltese

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11 Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Small hole, seems like a tooth hole, but can’t be positive in the back of neck. Cleaned bleeding and trimmed hair best I could, no bleeding is occurring. What should I do, vets are currently closed

March 6, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, you can also apply neosporin to this area too.

March 6, 2021

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Mutt

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog is supposedly a Labrador, German Shepard, Golden retriever mix so he is very high energy. He wagged his tail very hard and got cut on glass. I was able to locate the wound and it on the bottom of his tail. It has stopped bleeding and he dog allows me to wrap it. He is very sad and sometimes whimpers randomly. I’m not sure if I need to see a vet or if he is able to heal at home.

March 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

As he sounds to be in pain, a vet visit is best. This way we can clip the fur and properly assess the wound. In some cases, sutures will be needed after a thorough clean. For most, antibiotics to prevent infection and anti inflammatories and pain relief will be prescribed. The vet can also ensure the dressing is applied correctly and provide advice on how long a dressing will be needed.

March 3, 2021

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pittbull

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almost 2 years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Lips Cherry Red Gums In Spots ,Itchy Face ,Watery Eyes And Gum Up. Throwing Up Foam And Red Brown And Yellow Sludge. Shaky At Times And Week. Eyes Swollen

he catches rats .think he may have bite him . He has shots updated he has also been coughing like he has asthma or checking. Labored breathing .waterynose

Jan. 28, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello It sounds like your pet may be having an allergic reaction. If he is having labored breathing, I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian immediately for an exam and treatment. He may need Benadryl and a steroid, in addition to diagnostic testing. Good luck.

Jan. 28, 2021

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Dachshund

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog got in a fight with my other dog and obtained 6 wounds to the face and lost three teeth. One wound in particular i believe punctured the air way on her nose. Currently it’s swollen and moves when she exhales. She also has to intake through her mouth and exhale through her nose. Should I be worried?

Jan. 16, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Yes, this is definitely cause for concern. I'm very sorry this has happened. Your dog needs to see a vet immediately. Oftentimes, a lot of the damage is under the skin and not visible so there may be worse damage than anticipated. At a minimum, she will need pain relief, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. She may also need surgery to repair the damage to her nose.

Jan. 16, 2021

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Shih Tzu with Yorky

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog got bit by a dog however there’s no blood but his eye is also red. What can that mean. I don’t have 500 dollars

Dec. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that his eye was injured when he was bitten, or his blood pressure may have been high enough that he ruptured a blood vessel in his eye. If the redness is not improving, or he is squinting or there is any discharge, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian.

Dec. 24, 2020

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Mollie

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Beagle

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

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

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

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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0 found helpful

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

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

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

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

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

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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Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

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