The severity of bite wounds can be hard to assess by simply looking at their external appearance. The skin can sustain little damage while the deeper tissues are severely affected by crushing and loss of blood supply. Internal organs like the lung, intestines, or liver can be perforated or lacerated. Bite wounds are most severe when a larger animal, or animals, have bitten or attacked a smaller animal.
We recommend pets with bite wounds be seen as soon as possible either by your primary veterinarian or at an emergency facility. Recommended diagnostics for bite wounds may include bloodwork, ultrasound examination, and/or radiographs depending on the severity and location of the wound.
Treatment for wounds can be as simple as clipping and cleaning the affected area followed by oral medications for pain and infection. Bite wounds more commonly need to be aggressively cleaned, trimmed of dead or dying tissue, and repaired to avoid serious complications. Aggressive care happens under heavy sedation or anesthesia and the patient typically needs a drain placed for a few days in the tissue surrounding the wound to help stop an abscess (or infection) from developing. Some severely traumatized patients require more invasive surgery with hospitalization and IV fluid therapy and medications.
Aftercare can include follow-up visits to monitor tissue healing and infection with most patients going home with with oral antibiotics, pain medications and an Elizabethan collar.