As pet owners we dread having anything harmful happen to our beloved furry companies, and this definitely includes wounds. Wounds can range in size and severity, and can include anything from superficial scrapes and cuts to deeper and more serious punctures and burns. Regardless of their size, location and appearance, your pet’s wounds should always be assessed by their veterinarian. This is because while some animal wounds are truly superficial and can successfully heal on their own, many others may hide more serious issues and will need medical assistance in order to heal smoothly and fully.
Stabilization and Treatment
The first action in wound repair is the assessment of the wound and the pet’s overall condition. Where necessary, the pet’s condition must be stabilized and first aid performed. Active bleeding is typically controlled with direct pressure, though severe arterial bleeding may need to be handled with a pneumatic cuff. Once the pet has been stabilized and bleeding has been controlled, wound repair treatment can occur.
The three basic steps for wound repair include:
- Wound irrigation. Wound irrigation is an essential step in wound repair because it helps to wash away visible and microscopic debris, thereby helping to decrease the risk of bacterial-related complications. Large volumes of an antiseptic and nontoxic irrigation solution is used to flush the area and to ensure that all debris is cleared away. Wound irrigation can also help to ensure that the wound is properly hydrated, which is an important part of repair and healing. If you contact your veterinarian when you notice your pet has a wound, your veterinarian may ask you to flush the area with large amounts of clean water. However, in most cases wound irrigation should only occur at your veterinarian’s office with a prepared solution so that cleanliness can be assured.
- Wound debridement. After irrigation has been completed, the area all around the wound is prepared and the hair removed for easier cleaning and repair. Then, the veterinarian assesses the viability of skin and local tissue around and in the wound so that all necrotic tissue can be debrided. Debridement can be done in layers or in one complete section, and will depend upon the veterinarian’s assessment of the condition as well as whether the tissue to be removed is associated with essential structures.
- Wound closure or open management. The veterinarian will decide whether wound closure is possible and optimal, based upon the availability of closing skin tissue and the degree of infection or contamination. For example, burn wounds cannot be closed, but rather must be managed as they heal openly. Wounds that are grossly contaminated or infected cannot be closed until the contamination or infection has been controlled and resolved. Open wounds, of course, must be carefully managed in order to heal properly and prevent further infection or contamination. This includes regular assessment, debridement and repeated bandaging until the wound is fully healed. Meshed gauze dressings provide a form of mechanical debridement at every bandage change, and therefore are useful for once or twice daily bandage changes until an initial granulation bed forms over the wound. After the initial granulation bed has formed over the wound, a non-stick dressing should be used in order to ensure smooth healing and to prevent disruption of the granulation bed. Where prudent, wounds may be closed with sutures, staples or cyanoacrylates. The veterinarian will decide, based upon the size and location of the wound as well as the size and overall health and condition of the pet, what type of wound closure is best.
Pain management techniques are used as necessary throughout the wound repair and healing process in order to ensure the best possible comfort for the pet. This may include the administration of anesthesia during initial treatment of severe wounds, such as burns over a good portion of the body, as well as pain medication for at-home care. Your veterinarian will keep you well-informed throughout the entire wound repair and healing process, and provide you with specific at-home care instructions.
For more information about wound repairs and healing, contact La Crosse today.