Case Of the Month – April 2012

April’s Case goes to Jamie Chiene – a very brave little man!  At only seven months of age he was sadly attacked by another dog.  Through no fault of his own Jamie was attacked by a large Bull Mastiff type dog that had initially been playing with him.  He bit Jamie badly over his back, managing to pick him up and shake him at the same time.Luckily Jamie’s owner was able to rescue him and pick him up once the other dog had let go and rushed him straight to the surgery. Poor Jamie had four puncture wounds corresponding to the canines in the mouth and was clearly very sore and shaken up.  He was admitted immediately and given treatment for shock, given strong pain relief and antibiotics to stabilise him. Once he was able to withstand an anaesthetic he was taken straight through to surgery.  Radiographs indicated considerable gas under the skin and muscle layers – an indication of trauma.  Thankfully the chest wall had not been penetrated and there was no evidence of any internal bleeding although one rib on the right hand side had a small hair line fracture. Under the anaesthetic Jamie underwent a major hair cut to assess the full extent of the damage.  When a bite and shake occur the puncture wounds can look quite small but the force of the injury effectively tears the skin and underlying muscle apart.  This causes extensive bruising and was already obvious on clipping away Jamies hair.  His injuries extended from the nape of his neck to his waist and down both sides of his ribcage to the level of his elbows.  Thankfully his very thick coat had done a great deal to prevent further damage. Dog bites carry a large risk of infection as the teeth effectively inject any bacteria living in the mouth into the deeper tissues.  To combat this the bite wounds were opened up and surgically debrided, cleaned and then flushed with copious amounts of sterile saline. With any bite wound the body tries to heal itself by producing alot of its own fluid – essentially trying to flush itself – but this fluid is often trapped within the damaged tissue and is a feeding reservoir for bacteria.  To prevent this surgical ‘penrose’ drains are inserted.  These are soft rubber tubes that act as a sump, drawing up fluid and allowing it to exit the body.  These drains are commonly left in place for 48hrs whilst the body is healing.  Although they look odd – they are only help in place by tacking sutures and are tolerated very well.  It must feel funny having them removed but Jamie was very brave with the help of lots of gravy bones!  Jamies bruising and subsequent fluid build-up was so severe that one of his drains was actually left in place for 4 days. Despite everything he was amazingly brave and still keen to come to the surgery for his treats!  Thankfully the wounds have all healed now and although he was very sore with his cracked rib, being such a youngster has meant this has healed incredibly quickly too.  Photographs and his xrays are below for those of you who don’t mind more ‘colourful’ pictures! Thankfully his owner was quick witted enough to rescue him – in any dog fight it is very important not to get your hands or feet in the way.  Often by accident people get bitten this way.  If you are ever unfortunate enough to experience a dog fight an effective way to break it up is to throw your coat over the top of their heads as this often shocks them into letting go.  Giving you an opportunty to then seperate them. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it an offense for any type of dog to be in a public place and be out of control.  If found guilty of endangering another dog, livestock or worse a person then by law that dog can be neutered and instructed to always be on a lead and wear a muzzle in a public place.  For worst case offenders euthanasia of the dog and a prison term for the owner can occur.   Although any dog can get into a squabble with another it is rare but there are ‘repeat offenders’ out there and if you are ever unfortunate to bear the brunt I would always recommend reporting an incident to your local RSPCA Inspector or Police Station. Happily these cases are extremely rare but if you are worried that you have a dominant dog its always worthwhile contacting one of us at the practice for some advice about training classes or behavioural work to ‘nip’ a problem in the bud before it develops further.