Kuipo and her injured foot

Kuipo and her injured foot

“Kuipo” is a recent patient seen at the Pet Emergency Center and recipient of assistance from The Chester Foundation.  She is an 8 year old Akita who presented to the hospital for a laceration injury to her right front paw that was between two of her toes.  Initial examination did note significant swelling and injury extending to underlying tissue.  Her wound was bleeding profusely, soaking through bandaging material so was difficult to evaluate.  X-rays revealed significant injury to the bones, which likely would not have been apparent had the foot simply been bandaged – which would have resulted in later complications.  The extent of damage required surgical exploration and repair, as well as the need to amputate one of the toes as it had been disarticulated (separated at the joint).  “Kuipo” recovered well from the surgery and was managed at home with bandage changes, pain medication, antibiotics, and follow up with her family veterinarian.

Commentary: Cuts and Wounds

In emergency veterinary medicine, pet visits for cuts and wounds are very common occurrences.  Managing recommendations are variable depending on factors such as: cause, location of injury, degree of discomfort or lameness (limping), amount of bleeding, bruising and/or swelling, age of patient, or any underlying medical conditions.

Minor injuries such as scratches can certainly be managed with basic first aid:

  1. Dirty wounds can be rinsed with warm water along with dilute antiseptic solutions.  Avoid using products such as hydrogen peroxide directly on the wound as they may cause additional tissue damage.
  2. Clean the wound with a cloth towel
  3. For mild swelling, apply a cold compress or even a cold wet towel – do not place ice directly to the skin.
  4. Cover the wound with bandaging material to keep it clean and prevent the pet from licking the wound.
  5. Call a veterinarian for further advice:  include information such as cause of injury if known.  Don’t give any medications (especially pain medication) without first checking with your veterinarian – many over the counter “aspirin type” products can be toxic to pets!

Challenges with wounds

                Perhaps the biggest challenge in dealing with cuts and wounds involves determining the extent of damage.  In particular, bites and wounds extending below the skin surface should be handled with caution (warrants visit to a veterinarian) as it is very difficult to determine depth of penetration, underlying tissue damage, or injury to bone(s).  Additionally, the ability for bacteria to be “seated” can lead to significant infection.  Bite wounds on cats are especially tough as there is usually very little bleeding and often the wounds are not found until the cat presents with signs of infection (limping, swelling, lethargy…).  “Crushing injury” can also be associated with bite wounds and often can lead to complications, including death.  X-rays and/or ultrasound are valuable tools in evaluating deeper injures.  However, sometimes surgery is the only way to truly evaluate the extent of the wound.