Puncture Wounds in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Puncture Wounds in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Puncture Wounds in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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 infection. 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, a 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

Signs of puncture wounds include:

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

You may see secondary signs 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.

Puncture wounds can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has puncture wounds or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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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 likely 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

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Maltese

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11 Years

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17 found helpful

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17 found helpful

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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17 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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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

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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1 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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Puncture Wounds Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

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