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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 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.

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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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Written by hannah hollinger

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 11/03/2016, edited: 05/07/2021

More articles by hannah hollinger

Puncture Wounds Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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4 Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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My 4yr old blue nose pitbull and my 2yr old blue nose buliepit got into a fight and one if the dogs got her ear all bitten up really bad. I took her to vac emergencies but I don't hv $865 to pay for sedation and cleaning or antibiotics so I brought her home. They did put a wrap around her head to stop the bleeding and what not. Im just wondering if when I should take the wrap off and if i should clean it and rewrap.it and if there is a cheaper way to atleast get some antibiotics?

Dec. 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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2 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, dog bites can develop nasty infections as their mouth are full of bacteria. Yes, we should change the dressing daily and clean the area with an antiseptic cleaning product or salt water. There is no doubt that both pain relief and antibiotics are needed. If you go to a regular vet (not an emergency clinic) during regular hours, it won't be that expensive for a regular consultation and some medicine. I suspect it was the sedation & procedure that would have been expensive in the other clinic.

Dec. 23, 2020

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Yorkie

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Five Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

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Wont Eat

She was attacked yesterday morning and seemed ok until after I took her to the vet she got staples and now she won’t eat or drink, however I got her to drink very lil bit of water but not sure if it was even enough

Oct. 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. I'm sorry to hear your little Yorkie was attacked and hope that you and her are doing okay; it must have been quite the shock. She likely had lots of adrenaline yesterday and now that that has all gone she is feeling deflated, bruised and probably a little anxious. If the injury was in an area such as the neck or chest, I would want to confirm there has been no deeper trauma. Sometimes, it can be necessary to do an x-ray to rule out further trauma such as a tear in the windpipe; especially if the attacker was a large breed. Make sure she is getting plenty of anti-inflammatories, pain meds and she should also be on antibiotics if the skin was pierced. Allow her to rest and tempt her to eat with yummy meals like warm chicken or white fish and rice. If she continues to not eat, we would worry about dehydration and low blood sugar given her small size. Her lack of appetite could be an indication that her pain is not well enough controlled and I would request something stronger from you vet. Wishing her a very speedy recovery.

Oct. 22, 2020

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Pitbull

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Six Months

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1 found helpful

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Swelling And A Bite

Idk what going on this dog bit her and now her neck is swelling up??!

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is certainly an ugly bite wound, and bite wounds can get very infected, quickly. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as she probably needs oral antibiotics. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 4, 2020

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Pitbull terrior mix/lab

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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Infected Back Leg

My dogs inner back leg is raw and has puss. We have no idea how this started or what to do for him. Please help....what is this??

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That looks like a somewhat severe skin infection, and may have started with a wound of some sort. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian right away, as they will be able to look at him and get therapy so that it doesn't continue to get worse. I hope that he is okay.

Oct. 9, 2020

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Terrier mix

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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Pain Punture Wounds Wasattacked By A Biger Dog

He was attacked by a bigger dog the other night he has bite marks all over but mainly on back of his shoulders where the dog picked him up and shock him and it looks to be bleeding or some kind of draining he won’t let me get near him he’s been very distant keeps to himself hiding away from us he is drinking water but is very distant that’s why I have not been able to take him to vet I’m unable to catch him he’s been sleeping a lot he does use the bathroom but he’s not himself it’s been 4 days now

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that he is okay - he needs to see a veterinarian, as there can be extensive damage from an injury like that.

Oct. 10, 2020

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Trixie(3) Lou’Lou(9 months)

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Jack Russell paterdale / staffy cross lercher

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Bite
Little Blood
Deep

Hi, I have 2 dogs both bitches, one just under a year 9 months she’s a (staffy cross lercher), then my other dog she’s 3 years she’s a (Jack Russell cross patter-dale), we was walking them, they was fine then my partner thrown a stick they both went for it, my younger dog pounced on my 3 year old dog pinned her down by her neck ragged her about, we ran over stopped the fight as quick as we could, I noticed my oldest have a small deep puncher wound on her neck, what was bleeding, my youngest didn’t have any marks, I’m worried as I’ve read some stuff on the Internet, explaining you can tell a dogs intentions on where the location of the bites are.. as it being on her neck it’s intention to kill. Also I haven’t taken her to a vet as it is one small puncher area but seems deep.. she’s in pain in that area because she’s growling when I touch, to let me know.. I just need advice to what next. Thanks you 😁

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leo

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Chihuahua

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Punctured Wound

My chihuahua was bitten by a german shepard today and has a slice on his neck. at first he was crying and would not let me go near the wound. after a few hours he allowed me to wash and wrap the wound with neosporin. he currently seems to be very mellow, is it necessary to take him to the vet i would prefer not to due to finances

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Monk

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Pyredoodle

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7 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

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Panting

I just got a new Pyredoodle. He is only 7 weeks old. My pit bull/boston terrier mix bit him in the face. He is bleeding from his nose ( i think he got the inside of it ) and he got either left or the right of his eye. A little blood keeps forming in the eye and its a little swollen. He is panting and sounds congested due to the blood in his nose. He is like blowing it out with each breath. I got him an anxiety tablet and I have cleaned his eye with contact solution and his nose with peroxide and I just bought antimicrobial spray from Petsmart. Any other do's and dont's would be appreciated!

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Daisy

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Chihuahua

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Infection
Wounds Larger
Doesnt Hardly Eat Or Drink
Wounds Still Seeping Blood

I have a chihuahua who was attacked by a pit bull that came over the fence and into our backyard. Her injuries are all under her belly and on the inside of her right back leg. She has bite holes that were about the size of a q-tip. I took her to a new vet that my neighbor recommended and I noticed that he barely even looked at her. He gave her Carprofen 25mg and Baytril 20mg.The antibiotic hasnt helped because her wounds are infected. He said it didnt need to be stitched because it needed to drain. The holes were deep and bled a lot and continuously, I felt like they should have been stitched. She has also been having a foul smell so I took her back to vet and this time he said that she may need surgery, that the muscles in her leg are destroyed as if a chainsaw had been taken to them. Wouldnt he have noticed that in the first visit? The wounds are now big enough to stick your thumb in. Im scared, need help.

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Mary

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Chihuahua/Jack Russell

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Cut, Puncture, Sad,Scared

My Chihuahua Jack Russel Mix was bitten by a much larger dog ( A rottweiler). I only found one puncture wound. She is already naturally a shy and shaky dog so her demeanor isn't much different than normal but she is still really scared. Her eyes are watering and she's nervous but again this just happened so I assume she's scared. I found the wound about 2 hours after the incident. I applied Betadine to the area and checked for blood, I saw very little on the fur near the puncture. However, I can see what appears to be muscle under the open would. I would say it is half the size of a dime in diameter. Less than 1/4 or so. After I cleaned the area with betadine I applied Vaseline over the wound to prevent any debris from getting into it. It is on the underside of her neck so she can not lick it. I did not see any other visual injuries and she doesn't moan or cry out when patted or touched anywhere else either. she is breathing normally. At the moment I'm tapped out financially. ( I know don't have a dig if you can not afford it, but I have had her since she was born 6 years ago and my financial issues just became an issue recently) My son is special needs and I've faced many medical issues with him recently driving out all funds. Is it ok to treat her and watch her at home for a few days while I try to find assistance with the funds or find a vet locally that can help? I have tried several vets locally in the past and none of they all seem more focused on the money than the pet.

Puncture Wounds Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

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